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Wild-goose Chase

A hunt after a mare's nest. This chase has two defects: First, it is very hard to catch the goose; and, secondly, it is of very little worth when it is caught.

To lead one a wild-goose chase.
To beguile one with false hopes, or put one on the pursuit of something not practicable, or at any rate not worth the chase.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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