Rabbit hunting is a sure-fire way to have some fun, do some shooting and take home supper.
Want a sure-fire way to have some fun, do some shooting and take home supper? You probably live near the perfect hunting solution: hunt rabbits.
It is no secret that to bag rabbits you have to hunt where rabbits live. While it is not rocket science to find good cover for rabbits, there are some things hunters can do to increase their odds to not only find rabbits, but to be able to put more of them in the bag.
Hunters who don't have a good rabbit dog can still plan and execute a great rabbit hunt no matter where they live. Rabbits are tenants of edge habitat. They love field edges, overgrown home sites, new cutovers, meadows and even river bottoms in the desert.
To survive, rabbits need overhead cover whether it be briars, clumps of grass, young successional growth resulting from an overgrown home site that has been abandoned, or a freshly timbered clearing that is weedy.
Dogless hunters will find that the above habitats that have ample open spaces scattered among the cover are the best places to try to stomp out rabbits from cover. Hunting in pairs or trios is always more productive and fun than going it alone, too.
Plot your hunt strategy around the cover on hand. One hunter should be the flusher on each leg of the hunt. As the flusher approaches a briar patch, small thicket or hedgerow, the other hunter(s) should position themselves where they can see escape routes and ready their scatterguns for a snap shot.
Rabbits run in short bursts to the next patch of cover. Identify those patches before flushing to have an idea where the rabbit will go.
In predominantly grassy areas that are relatively flat, don't overlook the clumps of taller grass. Thickets, briar patches, and even rockpiles are definitely focus points, but thick grassy clumps hold more rabbits than most people think. On a recent hunt with a friend, we were standing in such an area discussing the lack of rabbits in the briars nearby. I took a step toward my friend, mashing a tall clump of grass in the process. Three rabbits shot out!
Another consideration is to find higher ground (this could be as simple as a tall stump) in a relatively clear area and take a slingshot or a pocketful of stones. Sit down and remain quiet for 15 or more minutes.
Keep an eye on openings near cover. Every once in a while, lob a stone into nearby cover. I have taken my share of rabbits in many types of cover, including desert river bottoms, using this tactic. Hunting late in the day in such areas is very good!
Baying beagles and their furious chasing will bring a smile to any hunter's face. Beagles can be used in any of the cover mentioned above as well as very dense thickets, briar jungles and croplands too.
If you are taking new hunters out, opt for the same cover dogless hunters use to increase chances at shots due to better visibility for shooting.
Otherwise, make full use of the beagles' ability to penetrate dense cover and flush out rabbits to hunters positioned on openings not far from more cover.
Once the chase starts, don't be surprised to see the rabbit a hundred yards in front of the dogs. Watch all openings, and be aware of where all hunters are.
Wear blaze orange, and keep talking and movement to a minimum to allow the rabbits to feel safe pausing for a break at the edge of openings where shots can be taken. If you miss the first shot, stay put.
Rabbits often circle back to the first place they were jumped.