WILD RABBIT FOOD
Hunt Deer To Locate Rabbits
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.
100-acre soybean field had been cut, and looked as devoid
of vegetation as a stock-car dirt track. The only foliage
and color left grew in the small fence rows and brush
piles around the fields. The small cover strips appeared
to be no more than 20-yards-wide. “Did you bring
the sack, John?” a friend of mine asked. “All
the rabbits that once lived in this soybean field now
hold up in the fence rows. We should get a sack full
today putting on a bunny drive.” To drive these
rabbits out, two hunters stomped the briars, and made
their way through the fence row. Two other hunters took
stands on the left side of the fence row, and two hunters
took stands on the right side of the fence row. At a
small ditch about 100-yards down the fence row, another
hunter stood to block the rabbits. When the bunny drive
began, the shooting that took place sounded like a war.
In less than two hours, all of us had bagged our limit
of rabbits, and most of us had several quail to fill
out our game bags.
and deer feed on many of the same grasses and shrubs.
Although deer primarily browse and eat brushes, shrubs
and young trees, deer also like tender green shoots
of grass. The rabbit will eat almost any type of leaves
or grass that grows. Oftentimes, where you find ideal
deer habitat, you’ll discover productive rabbit
hunting. Sitting on the edge of a greenfield at White
Oak Plantation near Tuskegee, Alabama, a couple of years
ago, I watched 15 deer feeding just as night fell. With
my binoculars, I scanned the greenfield looking for
the trophy buck that a hunter often would find on the
edge of a field until shooting light was almost gone
and then would move quietly like a mist out into the
clearing. Although I didn’t spot my dream buck,
I did see large numbers of rabbits coming from the woods,
and going into the greenfields. I realized the rabbits
didn’t know this greenfield had been planted for
deer, and probably thought it was planted for them.
When I arrived back at camp that night, I talked with
Robert Pitman, the owner of White Oak, about the possibility
of hunting rabbits around his greenfields at the end
of deer season. When we did hunt, we found the bunnies
abundant, as I’d believed we would.
locate rabbits throughout your region, look on the edges
of greenfields planted for deer. You often can predict
the kind of rabbits you’ll find around these greenfields
by where the field is located. If the greenfield is
planted in or near a pine plantation or a clearcut,
generally you’ll have cottontails to hunt. However,
if that planted greenfield lies in swampy terrain, or,
on the edge of a creek or a ricer, primarily swamp rabbits
may utilize that field. You also can pinpoint productive
rabbit and deer hunting in the middle of a pine plantation.
Often the fire breaks, the wildlife openings and the
greenfields planted for deer as well as the roads leading
around and through the pine plantation will be planted
with some type of low-growing grass on which rabbits
thrive. Remember, all a rabbit must have to survive
is food and cover. If rabbits can find those ingredients
in a young pine plantation, or, on the edge of a pine
plantation, that’s where the rabbits will live.
TOMORROW: FIND RAILROAD TRACK
AND HIGH-VOLTAGE BUNNIES