John's Journal...


Use Hot Country Rabbit Hunting Tactics and Hunt High Spots and Protected Places in the Floods

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 answer’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.

Click to enlargeWhen I think of hot-weather hunting for bunnies, Texas, New Mexico and Florida immediately come to mind, since these states have plenty of bunnies. When a drought swept through the South a few years ago, I employed the hot-weather tactics I’d learned elsewhere to my own state of Alabama. When most of the countryside looks brown, you will have a difficult time finding rabbit food. However, often tender, young shoots that provide excellent food for rabbits will grow around stock ponds, farm ponds, creeks, rivers and streams. During one dry spell we had in the early fall one year, some friends and I went creek-hunting for bunnies. We wore hip boots, used beagles and hunted down the edges of small creeks that still had flowing water. The man with the dogs waded in the middle of the creeks and took bunnies as they ran or swam across the ankle-deep water. Divided evenly on shore, the rest of us took stands, and shot the rabbits as they came down the edges of the creeks. If you begin to think like a rabbit and look for the essentials they need to survive, you’ll discover numbers of rabbit hot spots.

Hunt High Spots and Protected Places in the Floods:

Click to enlargeWe no longer know what normal weather conditions include because of the unusual weather we’ve had in our region in recent years, including the extremes of drought and floods. Either condition is bad for rabbits as well as people. When a food hits, people who live along the flood plain must move out of their houses, go to higher ground and find another way to earn a living in another place. Although rabbits spend most of their lives within a half-acre of land, when that land becomes water, like the people who live on the flood plain, the rabbits also have to move to survive. Therefore, any high-ground place you pinpoint during flooded conditions that also has food and cover probably will home a large number of rabbits.

Some years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cleared out a woodlot I hunted every year on the edge of the Tombigbee River that flowed through west-central Alabama and made it into a spoilage dump. The engineers dug up this 150-to 200-acre plot and built a dike around it. Then the Corps pumped the material dredged up from the Tombigbee River into this spoilage area while building the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Each year dredging this region usually took place in the early spring. Briars and grass filled this diked spoilage area by late summer and Click to enlargeearly fall, making it ideal habitat for both rabbit and deer, When the river flooded, you couldn’t reach the spoilage area except by boat or canoe. However, because this place had a high bank all around it to keep the dredged material in, it also kept the water out. Then when the flood waters came, this eyesore became a deer and rabbit hot spot because of the abundant food in the spoilage area. All along major river systems throughout the country, you’ll find these spoilage regions. Although the dikes holding sediment from the bottom of the river are eyesores, once the grass and briars begin to grow in these sites, they offer a smorgasbord for cottontails and swamp rabbits, and a honeyhole for the rabbit hunter.


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 3