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.

Recommended for You

Gear

Get Ready for Summer with Cordova Coolers

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide.

Bass

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

G&F Online Staff - May 20, 2019

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

Records

State Records Reported in Maryland, Michigan

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Mustad's Inkvader Octopus Live Jig

From big fish to small, just about any saltwater game fish out there will love the new Mustad Inkvader Octopus Live Jig that Mustad's Russ Whisler shows to OSG's Lynn Burkhead.

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

See More Stories

More Hunting How-To

Hunting How-To

Don't Stand Out: How to Become An Invisible Hunter

Joey Thiel - October 29, 2018

Being invisible in the woodlands involves more than just sight. You also need to be soundless...

Hunting How-To

4 Steps to Successful Predator Hunting

Scott Haugen - June 01, 2018

Here are four tips to help get you started for predator hunting. (Photo by Scott...

Hunting How-To

Solo or Group Rabbit Hunting Without a Dog

David Johnson - January 02, 2019

It may take more work to find rabbits without a dog, but the effort can be quite worthwhile.

See More Hunting How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×