John's Journal...


Find Railroad Track and High-Voltage Bunnies

EDITOR’S NOTE: Large-scale farming has affected rabbits in the South. Clearing vast tracts of woods and swamps to plant agricultural crops has meant losing much of the rabbits’ habitat. Even though the hedge rows between these large fields have produced outstanding rabbit hunting that season, in the past few years, we’ve watched rabbit populations decline. Rabbits, like all other wild species, must have a combination of ample food and proper cover to survive. If an area loses either one, bunnies just can’t flourish. Throughout much of our region, farming practices have changed. The small-plot family farm either has been abandoned or replaced with big-field farms, which are not conductive to rabbit hunting. So where can hunters go to find plenty of bunnies? The Click to enlargeanswer’s quite simple – anywhere you find an abundant food source and cover to protect the rabbits. Let’s see if we can define some rabbit-food hot spots and learn how to hunt them.

Throughout much of the country, you’ll find abandoned railroad tracks. Most of the time when builders make railroad beds, they’ll build the tracks on some type of mound above the surrounding ground level. In many areas along the edges of these old, abandoned railroad tracks, you’ll find briar and high grass thickets, which rabbits dearly love. When I hunted with one of my favorite rabbit-hunting buddies, Mel Stewart, we found some outstanding beagle-dog bunny hunting along an abandoned railroad track in the southern part of my state. “John, I like to hunt railroad tracks because a hunter can stand on the side of the roadbed, look down in the cover and spot the bunnies when they move,” Stewart told me. “Another hunter can stand on the opposite side of that thick cover and see the rabbits as they break to come out of the thicket. My favorite railroad tracks to hunt are abandoned railroad beds that go through farm country or that run along the edges of creeks or parallel to old roads. If you can identify one of these places that also has a clearing on the opposite side of the roadbed, you usually can discover plenty of bunnies.Click to enlarge If your dogs like to jump deer and run them, you can quickly and easily get ahead of your dogs if you see a whitetail instead of a cottontail, when hunting abandoned railroad tracks. My dogs have the advantage of being raised and trained to be deer-proof. When I rabbit hunt, I don’t want to spend time catching up to dogs that are chasing deer instead of rabbit hunting. I prefer to devote all my time to chasing rabbits.” However, if you plan to hunt railroad-track rabbits, make sure the railroad tracks no longer carry trains on them, and that no law in your state prohibits hunting a certain distance from railroad tracks. Many states allow hunting on the right-of-ways on the sides of abandoned railroad tracks. But, the right-of-ways on the edge of railroad tracks still in use can’t be hunted in most states. Check with your state’s Department of Conservation.

Search For High-Voltage Bunnies:

You’ll often find some of the best rabbit hunting ever along the right-of-ways with electrical power lines over them. Because of the regular clearing of power line right-of-ways, new growth of young grasses, close to the ground that rabbits can feed on, appear under these power lines. A large landowner in my state was very reluctant to grant permission for hunters to hunt his land. However, when I explained that all I wanted to hunt was the power line right-Click to enlargeof-ways, I was granted permission, and had some superb rabbit hunting all season long. Because right-of-ways are often planted with grasses to keep down the growth of weeds, they provide abundant habitat and food for the rabbit. In many states, power line right-of-ways are planted as greenfields for deer. In some states, these right-of-ways are permitted to grow up with briars and brambles. But in most states, power line right-of-ways provide hot-spots for bunnies and the hunters who know how to hunt under the high-voltage lines.


Check back each day this week for more about HUNTING WILD RABBIT FOOD

Day 1: Hunt Deer To Locate Rabbits
Day 2: Find Railroad Track and High-Voltage Bunnies
Day 3: Use Hot Country Rabbit Hunting Tactics and Hunt High Spots and Protected Places in the Floods
Day 4: Go to the Grass
Day 5: Enter Cane Thickets and Palmetto Swamps



Entry 337, Day 2