John's Journal...

Hunting Marsh, Swamp and Green Field Rabbits

Day 2: Use Older, Smarter Rabbit Dogs:

Editor’s Note: If you enjoy hearing the music of a pack of tri-colored hounds as they work the briars and brambles, then you've surely dreamed about hunting when deer season ends. Then rabbit dogs no longer will disturb deer hunters in the woods. Whether you hunt rabbits in marshes and swamps or along edges of green fields, get prepared for February fun, while rabbit hunting.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewIf you wanted to get into the swamp-rabbit hunting business, Verdin always suggested you purchase older dogs with experience hunting in the marsh. “I believe a beagle needs about 4 years to learn how to hunt marsh rabbits,” Verdin commented. “You can start hunting with a pup when he's about a year old, but if you don't have some older dogs in your pack, you won't take many rabbits. Not only will marsh rabbits swim across, through and possibly under water to throw a pack of yapping beagles off the trail, the long-ears also know how to throw tricks on dogs. I've seen a marsh rabbit run inside a hollow log all the way to where the log's stopped-up and then run back down the same trail that he's gone on and jump off the trail to fool the dogs. When the beagles follow the trail, they may pile-up at the end of that log, never realizing that the rabbit has tricked them. When a rabbit puts a trick on a pack of beagles like this, you need an older dog in your pack that knows how to backtrack and circle to find the rabbit's trail and continue on the race. Young dogs will continue to try to get inside the hollow stump and never know the rabbit has thrown a trick on them.”

Swamp rabbits also like to play the lost-trail trick on beagles. “I've seen a rabbit come up to a canal, a ditch or a pond, and jump in the pond, but instead of swimming across the water, turn downstream for 25 to 50 yards, and then get out on the same side of the bank that he entered from,” Verdin said. “If the beagles follow that rabbit’s tracks up to the water, they will swim across the water, never knowing that the bunny has tricked them. But after an old dog has searched up and down the bank on one side, he'll often swim back across the water and find the rabbit's tracks on the right bank. You can't train a dog how to avoid the tricks that rabbits play on them. The dog needs years of experience to know what to expect from these marsh rabbits.”

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewSome older smart rabbits also have learned the double-back trick. “I've watched rabbits run across an old road in the marsh, and as soon as they get across the road, they'll hop off the trail and sit really still,” Verdin recalled. “When the beagles cross the road running the rabbit's tracks, they'll often run within 2 or 3 feet of the rabbit and never smell it. After the beagles have passed the rabbit, it will jump back on the same trail where it's been and run back the way its come which will keep the dogs confused for a while. But, sooner or later an old dog will figure out what's happened, and the race will be on again.”

AmazonFor delicious recipes for preparing rabbits and other wild game with our family’s recipes from the past 45+ years in the outdoors, get John and Denise Phillips’ new eBook “The Best Wild Game & Seafood Cookbook Ever: 350 Southern Recipes for Deer, Turkey, Fish, Seafood, Small Game and Birds.” Go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: The Most-Productive Tactics to Hunt Swamp and Marsh Rabbits

Check back each day this week for more about "Hunting Marsh, Swamp and Green Field Rabbits"

Day 1: You’ll Find Marsh Rabbits Different to Hunt
Day 2: Use Older, Smarter Rabbit Dogs
Day 3: The Most-Productive Tactics to Hunt Swamp and Marsh Rabbits
Day 4: Hunting and Taking Green Field Rabbits
Day 5: Bunny Bumping Rabbits in Soybean Fields and Drainage Ditches with and without Dogs

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Entry 705, Day 2