When hunting rabbits, we all know the importance of a good, reliable dog or pack of dogs. These animals work like a well-oiled machine to bring rabbits in for you to be able to successfully finish the job. What might help make their job easier (and yours as well) is creating an environment conducive to fostering a healthy rabbit population.
Photo: Gina Sanders
While rabbits naturally exist in plentifully in the wild, their presence and population in certain areas does vary. Encouraging them by creating a hospitable living and feeding area where they can thrive will give you all the more advantage down the road when the time comes to hunt. Much like a food plot would be used for deer, the same logic applies to rabbits. Ways in which you can create a rabbit-friendly habitat on your land are as follows:
1. The first step is to provide cover. This can be done in a number of ways ranging from building your own brush pile from downed limbs or even utilizing Christmas trees after the season ends. Regardless of the exact type of foliage you use and from where you get it, the goal is to create edge cover and a hiding place for rabbits that will feel safe and give them a place to shelter. However, before you start haphazardly piling up brush, you need to dig a hole that will act as a den. This hole only needs to be about a foot or so wide/deep and should be reinforced with sticks and logs with an entry/exit route present. When you are done with your hole and brush pile, this hole should be concealed from overhead view with the small path in/out only somewhat visible to give rabbits a sense of safety. The more of these structures you build, the better the likelihood that rabbits will move in, although other small game animals may frequent them as well.
2. The next thing you need to do is provide a source of food. Clearing areas near the brush piles you created and re-planting with something rabbit-friendly is a good start. Free your desired food plot areas of any unfavorable weeds and instead plant items that rabbits will be interested in feasting upon. New plants should be in the form of forage plants such as clover, cereal grains, brassica, or other warm season grasses, all of which rabbits enjoy.
Photo: Gina Sanders
With an inviting source of cover and food in place, all you have to do is wait. Once rabbits discover the environment that awaits them, a plentiful population should establish in the area before long. At that point, it is up to you and your dog(s) to tweak the rabbit population through hunting and relocating rabbits from your property to your dinner table as needed.