Solo or Group Rabbit Hunting Without a Dog

Solo or Group Rabbit Hunting Without a Dog

It may take more work to find rabbits without a dog, but the effort can be quite worthwhile. (Photo by Keith Sutton)

Chasing rabbits with dogs is a rewarding experience, but not everyone owns, or knows someone who owns, rabbit dogs. However, hunters can be successful without dogs if they hunt in the right places.

To find those places, keep two things in mind. First, every air-breathing predator in North America pursues rabbits. Second, cottontails are one of the few true rabbits in the world that don’t dig their own warrens.

This means cottontails are extremely dependent on dense, brushy, cover — vegetation that protects them from hawks and owls overhead and is dense enough that coyotes, foxes and bobcats have trouble moving through it.

Hunters without dogs need to find thick early successional cover interspersed with grassy areas that contain a variety of food sources. Typically, large amounts of cover that protect rabbits also have abundant food. But attractive food close to the edge of cover increases the chances that rabbits will come into openings.


Cottontails like thorny cover, such as briers, blackberries and raspberries, though they will use any cover that is thick. They do not hibernate, so ideal cover includes woody vegetation or substantial brush piles that provide cover all winter.


Cutovers that have grown up in briers or other brush are ideal. Any thick areas that hunters typically avoid walking through contain rabbits. One tip for scouting a cutover is that if there is a high density of rabbits around, the flat tops of stumps in the cutover will have rabbit droppings on them.

GOING SOLO

Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk. One solo tactic is to set up at dusk or dawn with a .22 rifle in a position that allows you to see rabbits that come to the edge of thick cover to eat high-value food, such as clover, forbs or native grasses. If the landscape allows you to move without the rabbits seeing you, you can also modify this approach to include spot and stalking.

But the classic method of solo rabbit hunting is to focus on small patches of cover — wood piles, hedgerows, clumps of briers that are slightly separated from other cover — and attempt to “stomp” the rabbits out of the cover. This kind of hunting requires alertness and quick shooting.

PAIRINGS & TEAMS

Most two- or three-man rabbit hunting is similar to solo hunting, but can be more effective, because one designated hunter can bust the brush while the others position themselves to get a shot at any rabbit trying to escape.


By far the most important aspect of this kind of hunting has to do with safety. Always know where your partners are, and stay focused on muzzle control. Communicate with partners, making a plan for each section of brush and don’t change positions without letting your partners know.

Ideally, the person stomping the brush is making enough noise that rabbits will leave it to avoid the commotion. Obvious escape routes include narrow openings between the far edge of the cover being pushed and the next patch of cover, or the end of a hedgerow or brushy fence line.

Scouting to find a lot of these smaller areas can pay off for many years, because good cover is likely to produce good rabbit hunting for a few years — or more if the cover is managed.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

Minn Kota's Brad Henry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that there's much to like in the new Minn Kota Riptide Terrova saltwater trolling motor that comes with I-Pilot and an 87-inch shaft.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time. Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the cooler.

By Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options. Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

See More Trending Articles

More Hunting How-To

Your actions in the field — with no audience or consequence — may determine the future of hunting and fishing. Stories

How Do You Behave Outdoors When Nobody's Looking?

Andrew McKean - March 18, 2020

Your actions in the field — with no audience or consequence — may determine the future of...

Said the hunter: ‘We knew he was big, but not world-record big.' Big Game

World Record Rocky Mountain Goat Approved by Pope & Young

Game & Fish Digital Staff - February 20, 2020

Said the hunter: ‘We knew he was big, but not world-record big.'

As winter food sources dwindle, hogs move more often. Here's how to be at the right place at the right time. Hogs

Proven Cold-Weather Hog-Hunting Tactics

Terry Madewell - February 28, 2020

As winter food sources dwindle, hogs move more often. Here's how to be at the right place at...

For deer hunters, what you do just after the shot is as important as any part of the hunt. Whitetail

Field Skills: Closing the Deer Deal

Mark Chesnut - December 24, 2019

For deer hunters, what you do just after the shot is as important as any part of the hunt.

See More Hunting How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.