Perfect Rabbit Habitat?

Discussion in 'Rabbit Hunting and Beagling' started by 5 Solas, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. 5 Solas

    5 Solas Well-Known Member

    What do you all look for when scoping out rabbit hunting land to ask permission on?

    I would think it might be different by geography... for example I mostly hunt North Central Indiana (super flat and 99.999% tillable land!), but I hunt Southeastern Indiana as well (hilly, 10% tillable).

    In the giant cornfield of northern and central Indiana, it seems that fence rows are almost non-existent anymore. Most of the woods around me are 2-10 acre plots out in the middle of a cornfield. Sometimes they seem to have such a thick canopy that no brush or grass grows in the woods, as no sunlight can get in.

    We have also seen a huge jump in coyotes around here. Some seem to be the size of German Shepherds! Do you reckon this is causing the rabbits to head into thicker cover?

    Do you look for forage/food that you would expect the rabbits to have plenty of? What about wetlands... do you think cottontails prefer to be drier, or do you think the wetlands will cause more lush forage to grow around them?

    Just wondering what the collective thinks to be the best habitat. Excited to hear your thoughts!
  2. mattdog

    mattdog Well-Known Member

    my area is all hills . Maybe a few pastures, a 10 acre corn field is often considered large. Used to be able to kick em up out of broomsedge, but no more. Not sure if it's the coyotes, bobcats, foxes ( seems few trap anymore) , or the hawks and owls, but most of the time we find more rabbits where there is some taller cover. Think chest high and up. Thick nasty gnarly stuff that the dogs have to fight through, if there's a food source close by , that's all the better. Thick cover has to extend to the ground too, not head high thick and bare ground underneath like autumn olive creates. If there is an occasional thin spot in the thicket that's a plus, gives a spot to be able to get a shot. Dogs ran one last week that was within 20 yards of a hunter 6 times, but couldn't get a shot because of the brush. Food source is secondary, if they can't hide they can't survive, so I always look for cover.
    We're mostly pretty steep hills here, so not much wetlands, but never seem to find many rabbits in the winter where the ground is soggy, maybe cause those places flood at times.

  3. bear128

    bear128 Well-Known Member

    anything with growed up clearcuts , fieds or full of briars and a nice person that will let you hunt
  4. JDW

    JDW Well-Known Member

    Rabbits survive and thrive in so many diversified habitats other than the text book perfect cover. A food source close to some escape cover to limit exposure is important. Its sometimes as simple as a nice grassy area and a couple of old sheds to get under. Actually at a recent hunt , of the 6 or so starts we got , most of them ended under the same old abandon shed on the property . Often enough for me , I scout what appears to be perfect cottontail cover in a large swath, but start no rabbits and see no droppings or knawing on food sources. Puzzling? Then scout a mountain top forest with minimual red berry briars under the canopy. Suddenly have discovered or rediscovered a hot spot. Anything that looks like it might hold a few bunnies and I can get access to is worth checking out.
    Close to home I have an area where I often run and hunt. Excellent cover / property. The population has been bare bones for several yrs now. Some reasons for the shortfall are easily assessed. First , the hay fields surrounding the cover have been revitalized and cut 2-3 times per season. I’ve seen easily up to a dozen rabbits go into the hay conditioner during a mowing. I’m Sure we miss some fatalities also. Another factor is the abundant predators. I went on a mission this winter to rid this property. Early Dec snow showed property overrun with fox and coyote tracks. As I went out scouting late today in the fresh snow , not a track could be found on this parcel. Snared 10 mixed foxes and 8 coyotes in the past month. Did this about 8 yrs ago and the rabbit population boomed for few seasons. I was surprised to catch so many on basically a 40 acre parcel. Normally not a high number of both species so close together. The coyotes will often run down the fox. Last time I caught 9 fox and no coyote at the same location. Like many of you , I don’t waste many trips to work, running errands or traveling around where not looking for new rabbit running or hunting spots. My wife doesn’t ask anymore why we take the scenic route everywhere. Haha. Good luck hunting tomorrow. Season is in its final month where I’m at. Best get out there asap.
  5. KyBrushBuster

    KyBrushBuster Well-Known Member

    I hunted a new Wetlands WMA that just opened this year. I hadn't hunted a swamp in years and was excited to give it a try. There is a low ridge that runs through the area and in the 2 times I hunted it we jumped 8-10 rabbits and only 1 that I can remember was jumped in the bottoms. All the rest where on that one small ridge. Most that were jumped on the side would run down into the swamp. The ones jumped on top would just cut back and forth across the top but wouldn't run through the boggy ground. It was a fun hunt but wouldn't trade it for the upland WMA closer to home.
    Patchhounds likes this.
  6. ireding

    ireding New Member

    Old abounded homesteads with out buildings are a pretty safe bet in KS
    KyBrushBuster likes this.
  7. STLMOBeagler

    STLMOBeagler Well-Known Member

    I look for cover. We have big ag. fields with thick ditches and draws that run through them. I see that I ask permission. I'll then scout it and look for rabbit hides in the grass or brush. Rabbit trails, and droppings. If you have those you'll have a good hunt. Now if you also find where they been chewing on the base of saplings and such it's usually a great hunt. That's eastern and mid missouri. If I don't see these things I check back in 3 years. Different areas seems to have them heavier in different years cycles maybe.
  8. 5 Solas

    5 Solas Well-Known Member

    All great ideas! Thanks everybody. Good luck the rest of the season!
  9. Pa Beaglerhh

    Pa Beaglerhh Active Member

    Good cover,food,and few predators. Usually will provide a good hunt. Not always. lol
  10. Patchhounds

    Patchhounds Member

    I look for for edges where two different cover is going on. Love when I find briars with tall grasses growing in it! Also,anytime I see an oil well I head for them! Always a rabbit around them!! All public land that I hunt