Late Season Rabbit Hunting

Posted by admin On March - 8 - 2010

So you have got a hankering for some rabbit hunting, but the seasons almost over and you are just not sure what to do. Well, fear not. In some areas of the Northeast, the season still has a couple of weeks remaining and there are plenty of strategies for late season rabbits.

Come this time of year, especially with the winter that many states have had, rabbits are not having the easiest life. Unlike larger game that has a limited hunting season and few natural predators, rabbits have been spending the entire winter trying to avoid being snatched up for a snack. Everything from bobcats to birds of prey and owls to sportsmen in the woods has been doing their best to get some rabbit meat for dinner. Rabbits, on the other hand, have been grabbing what little food there is and trying to stay out of sight.

With food reserves pretty much frozen under the snow and ice and the promise of fresh vegetation starting to be scented in the soon to be spring air, rabbits will be hitting the same lo’ spots that have sparse, tough and brown food reserves.

Though this is not the time of year that seems like a perfect time to hunt rabbits, you would be surprised at the luck you could possibly be having for the next couple of weeks.

The first thing you need to consider when getting ready to hunt late season rabbits is where the critters are eating. You need to find the clover that is their typical dinner. If you can find that, you will already be close to your future dinner. And if you are not having luck in that department, then look for two other sources of food rabbits tend to turn to: Raspberry or blackberry bushes and saplings.

The reason the bushes are popular for rabbits is because they not only tend to offer a good source food, but also because they offer great protection. Few things are as exciting as a fresh powdering of snow that reveals rabbit tracks heading into a large tangle of bushes and no tracks leading away.

Saplings will give you a good indication if you have rabbits in the area. This time of year, the rabbits are chewing at the bark of the sapling, eating right down to the wood beneath.

Much like bushes, brush piles are a good place for hunters to look. There are usually plenty in rural areas, especially near fields and farms. Make sure you are not trespassing and that you have permission to go on private land. Many farmers will give permission freely because they do not want those rabbits around when the plants start poking up out of the ground this year. Work the brush piles well. Kick them. Stomp around them. Climb on top of them and stomp around. But watch for the jump, because when those rabbits run it is going to be fast. You may have to do some classic stalking after that.

No matter where you hunt or when, using a pack of beagles is always a plus. In the late part of the season, beagles are especially effective because of the lack of new smells that vegetation tends to pour into the air. Dogs are also good this time of year because of the fact that the colder weather tends to keep rabbits from jumping and running like they would in the early portion of the hunting season. The dogs will be able to push the rabbits instead of ending up in an all out chase from a quickly jumping bunny. Keep in mind though that the loops a rabbit runs tend to be different in the late winter than they are earlier in the season.

And, as always, practice safe hunting. Practice with a shotgun or your .22 before going out. Educate yourself as to the tendencies of the rabbits in the areas you are hunting. For example, rabbits will tend to run along a fence line in a farm setting instead of bolting away from it, and you have to plan your shooting accordingly. Conversely, a rabbit will bolt away from a bush instead of staying close to it if you jump one there.

And, if you are not sure, make sure to check your local regulations before hunting rabbits this time of year. Verify the season is still ongoing and that you are able to use dogs or not.

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