John's Journal...


Enter Cane Thickets and Palmetto Swamps

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 Click to enlargefarm 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.

If you hunt in low-lying areas and swampy terrain, many times you can find Goliath-sized rabbits in the canes and the palmettos. This type of habitat homes big swamp rabbits, not cottontails. The swampers tend to like the tender shoots of the canes and grass that grow in wetlands. The thick cover of the palmettos and the cane provides an ideal home for these very-large rabbits. But when you hunt swampers, you better pack your lunch. Swamp Click to enlargerabbits run in much wider circles than cottontails. Most of the swampers I’ve encountered have earned at least their master’s degrees, and some even have their PhDs in dog-dodging. The swampers will hit the water in a heartbeat and swim upstream, downstream or across a pond quicker than a raccoon will.

“I know most people won’t believe this, but when a swamp rabbit crosses water, it tends to leave an oily or a sweaty film on the water that contains the rabbit’s scent,” Mel Stewart, by rabbit-hunting buddy explains. “A dog that comes from quality breeding with a good nose can follow that scent across water and keep the race going. If you Click to enlargehave dogs that hunt around water frequently, they’ll also amass a wealth of rabbit savvy. They’ll know where to look for a rabbit if it hits water. Even if the rabbit throws the dogs off the trail for a few minutes, sooner or later they’ll pick up the trail again and keep the bunny coming to you.” To take more rabbits this year than you have in the past, think about a rabbit’s stomach. If you know what goes in the rabbit’s stomach and where to find that food, you’ll locate numbers of bunnies to hunt.

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 5