It's a big world out there if you are a rabbit, or if you are the person trying to use dogs hunt rabbits. There are many places for rabbits to den up and to hide in order to avoid predators. While this is good for a rabbit, it can be frustrating for the hunter running dogs in hopes of reaching a limit of rabbits.
The thrill of the chase can be exciting and intriguing, but coming up empty-handed after a lengthy effort can put a damper on your day. Going home hungry and without a rabbit for the fridge, freezer, or table can turn hunting enthusiasm into sour grapes if it happens frequently enough. It can also have an impact on your dogs, so give yourself the best advantage possible by hunting in areas that are rabbit friendly.
Rabbits are plentiful creatures, but that doesn't mean they are always easy to find. It is essential that you know where to find them so you can release your dogs in an area where they are most likely to find a rabbit. You also must position yourself in a place where it is possible to get a good, clean shot. Here are some suggestions as to how to better your chances for success:
1. For starters, you need to remember a rabbit's fondness for heavy cover. It is cover that offers concealment and gives rabbits a survival advantage, especially in the case of brambles and briars where predators are often unable or unlikely to follow. They will use small holes in cover as a network in the brush that act as an escape route that will be utilized by many rabbits. These openings will be approximately 8-12 inches in height. Once you locate a hidey hole such as this, position yourself nearby and let your rabbit dogs work their magic.
2. Water is not something rabbits particularly enjoy immersing themselves in, so ground that is high and dry is a better choice. However, high and dry should not mean tough, hard-packed ground, as rabbits like to dig and need softer ground to do so. It is possible that rabbits will hole up near bodies of water but not so much in the ground very close to or in direct contact with such waters. Amongst tree roots is a typical den location as well.
3. Even though pictures of rabbits darting across open fields may be plentiful, the reality is that they are quite likely to stop at the edge of a field rather than bounding out freely and without a care. This gives them a chance to assess their surroundings, and also gives an awaiting hunter a shot. Once in the field, rabbits with take shelter in tall grass when pursued by dogs, but that momentary pause could be all you need to get a shot off and a rabbit in the bag, so keep an eye on the fringe of fields and be ready when such an opportunity presents itself.
4. It also goes without saying that a food source is essential to the survival, and therefore presence of rabbits. If you let your rabbit dogs loose in a barren area, success is less likely to occur there than in an area with plentiful food. Areas where crops, lush grasses, and other appetizing rabbit foods are thriving are sure to have thriving rabbit populations as well.
Photo: Oregon Live
While your rabbit dogs are hard at work, remember to stay quiet and post yourself in a location that gives you a wide field of vision. When a rabbit is driven your way, preparedness is essential to getting a shot off that will land that rabbit in your bag, making your hunting day a success.
Do you have any other tips for finding rabbits? Are there specific types of foliage or ground that have proven appealing to rabbits in your experience? Let us know in the comments!