Hunting the Modern Cottontail Rabbit

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Old-fashioned rabbit hunting was the staple of outdoor enjoyment in the last century.  Before the era of no-til farming most farms and ranches had wide fence rows that were choked with brush and made excellent rabbit habitat.  Additionally, a US Government program commonly called “The Soil Bank” paid farmers not to plant crops in marginal areas to reduce erosion.  As a result, fields were allowed to grow up in natural grasses and weeds that made excellent for rabbit reproduction.

Love the Beagle Music

In the heyday of rabbit populations, many hunters raised beagles to hunt them and loved the dog work as much as the tasty venison.  Hunting with beagles was a rather gentlemanly pursuit.  Typically, the hunters allowed the dogs to run in likely habitat and then watched as rabbits were jumped and chased by the dogs.  The dog barks and bays were music to their owners ears and just the chase made for an enjoyable outing.  Rabbits tend to run in circles so that hunters waited near the jump site until they came sneaking back to avoid the dogs.  In this way, hunters often got passing shots.

Walk them Up 

In good habitat, hunters could bag a limit of rabbits just by walking slowly through thick cover, also the home of Bob White quail and ring-neck pheasants.  This combination hunting was quite exciting and made for a great feast back home.  Imagine having birds and rabbit as a meal.

Changing Times

Farming and ranching have changed dramatically in the past decades.  Today, many farmers have to work every inch of their property to make a living and wide fence rows and thick habitat no longer exist.  The folks at the Realtree website speak to “Modern Rabbit Hunting” in this informative post.  The hunting can still great, but you need to adapt.

Hunters have been pursuing the Eastern cottontail ever since the time of the earliest Native Americans. Although hunter numbers have declined from peak numbers, rabbit hunting still remains extremely popular overall and is one of the most popular small game pursuits. However, the dynamics of hunting cottontails have changed dramatically, and to achieve consistent success in the field, hunters must adapt to the new age of rabbit hunting.

https://www.realtree.com/small-game-hunting/articles/hunting-the-modern-cottontail-rabbit

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.

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