Honestly, my incessant whining over deer season's unexpected, yet completely expected, end isn’t helping, either. I guess you could add the anticipation of spring turkey hunting to that list, too, and quite possibly throw in unplanned summer camping excursions with the family. You do know that leading researchers have defined my condition as, “The Sportsman’s Plight”, right? Just Google that crap, it’s real!
Nonetheless, in my hunt for a cure I stumbled upon a breakthrough. Actually, it was fresh cottontail rabbit droppings, and tracks, in newly fallen snow, but breakthrough reads with such pizzazz, so I’ll stick with that. At any rate, I began to map out the multiple cottontail trails that crisscrossed the countryside, with little to no rhyme or reason, and my excitement grew. These were prime conditions for a bountiful cottontail harvest and I knew there was a rabbit somewhere at the end of those tracks.
Now, contrary to popular belief, coyotes haven’t eaten all the rabbits. Sure, bourgeoning populations of predators in the U.S. would suggest otherwise, and to further this argument we could also mention vanishing habitat, just for good measure. But I object. Those assumptions are erroneous and the damning evidence that was left by rabbits in my wife’s garden last summer, is proof enough to backup my claim that they are, “Fine as frog hair and thriving!” Hence the start of my rabbit hunting season.
It’s Time To Bust Some Brush And Get Serious:
For rabbits we shoot the Remington Model 1100 American Classic, with Federal Field-Shok Heavy Game Load Ammunition - 20 Gauge 2-3/4" 1 oz #6 Shot. That’s an excellent pairing of a fine firearm and supreme ammunition that features hard-hitting loads and delivers consistent patterns every time. We highly recommend both of these products.
As before mentioned, predators often dine on cottontail's cute fluffy butts, so they opt for thick cover that shieldsthem from would be threats. Here you’ll want to concentrate on thickets or grassy strips that lie adjacent to crops or lush food plots. Remember, a rabbit's main food source and bedding/safe heaven is always within close proximity of one another. So find were they sleep or feed and you’ll be guaranteed a shot.
Aside from dangers that four legged predators pose, weary rabbits must be cognizant of lurking menaces aloft. Hawks, owls, and other birds of prey definitely take their toll on unsuspecting rabbits and we, as hunters, can capitalize on it. Nimble rabbits will seek refuge in downed timber and brush piles that are overgrown with vegetation, which affords us the opportunity to scour through them. However, be alert, rabbits will quickly dart out of range leaving you with no time to react if you’re not prepared.
Become An Arborist:
Rule of thumb, when snow is piled high and forage is scarce, turn to wooded areas. Rabbits go bonkers for young deciduous trees. Any variety that grows rapidly in small clearings will certainly hold a few bunnies. So investigate, look for clues around the bases of these saplings. You should find gnarled rings that mimic the appearance of a half eaten cob of corn, accompanied by lots of dropping. This is an ideal location for an ambush.
Baby It’s Cold Outside:
When the temperature plummets, rabbits tend to hang tight, unless they’re forced to move. So dial it back four or five notches and truly take your time like you’re enjoying a casual stroll on a beautiful summer day. Pause frequently, make plenty of noise and coheres those hidden rabbits into revealing themselves. I have seen plenty of hunters walk right up and sometimes over a hunkered down bunny and they never knew it was there. So be patient and aware.
Time Is Of The Essence:
In regards to health, due diligence is required when handling rabbits. One must be prompt and thorough throughout the entire skinning and cleaning process, because most small game animals harbor fleas and other critters that carry diseases. Likewise, by disposing of the skin in a timely fashion, it also curtails the risk of bug migration from carcass to you. Note: Disposable gloves are imperative when handling small game and all apparel should be washed immediately in warm water upon cleanup.
A Final Thought:
Excuses for hunting rabbits vary. Some claim nuisance issues, the table fare they provide, but for most it’s the rabbits stealth and cunning ability to sense danger that peaks their interest. My reasoning, however, is far more rudimentary: hunting gives me clarity. It keeps me grounded. Whether it be big game I’m pursuing in the Rocky Mountains, or cottontails behind the barn with my four kiddos, I always find myself at peace during a stalk. It’s serene. So I challenge you to take up rabbit hunting this winter, if you haven’t already, and to unlock hunting’s true meaning in your life. On second thought, maybe this is just the effects of “The Sportsman’s Plight” talking? Oh, well! Either way, I’m hunting rabbits.
Hugs, Handshakes And Happy Hunting.