BEST LOCATIONS FOR TINY WHITETAILS   Leave a comment

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Tiny Whitetails provide excellent hunting with a long season and generous bag limits.  They afford ample opportunity for enjoyable days in the field and the promise of good eating for the effort.

Many farmers regard rabbits as pests, therefore gaining access to private land is usually pretty easy.  A polite request is often all you need to gain access.  Choosing a good location is sometimes another matter.  Areas with clean fields and pastures lush with fescue are usually devoid of rabbits.  Fescue offers poor cover and as a food it can cause problems that effect reproduction.

Because they are the top of the menu for just about all of nature’s critters, a rabbit’s first consideration is cover.  They are concerned with cold and wetness first and wind second.  Rabbit fur is not warm, and when it is wet it tends to mat.

Rabbits want to have an area where they can get sun for warmth and still be out of the wind.  On sunny days, they are fond in direct sunlight.  They preen and fluff their fur to maximize its protection front the cold.  If the ground is wet in some areas and dry in others, they will go to the dry, bare patches with cover nearby.  However, if the day is cold and windy, they move deep into the cover, shielded from the wind.  They burrow deep into brush piles or seek ditches and culverts for protection.  If the sun is shining, they will move to the side of a brush pile bathed in sunshine.

Some good locations are clear cuts and powering right of ways.  A mix of hardwoods, run‑down farmland and brush piles worth exploring.  If you can contact local rural letter carriers, they often know where they have seen large populations of rabbits all summer.

Rabbits will inhabit woodlots, hedgerows, slews and weed patches.  They tunnel under abandoned farm equipment or buildings.  They are very adaptable and can live almost anywhere.  If cats are around, the rabbit population is usually not that good.

Other predators that attack rabbits include the hawk.  On cloudy days, rabbits are very nervous and tend to stay in the deepest part of their cover.  On sunny days hawks cast a shadow on the land that alerts the rabbit to their presence.  On an overcast day there is no shadow.  Rabbits react to this vulnerability by hiding in heavy cover out of the reach of any winged predator.

Public hunting lands are often a good place to rabbit hunt after the deer season is over.  Often they have been overlooked all through the deer season.  Hunters have been so concentrated on the deer that they have left the rabbits alone.  Wildlife management areas in the public hunting program are examples of public lands which offer good hunting for rabbits.

The most popular method for hunting rabbits is the walk‑up method.  By moving slowly and stopping frequently, lone hunters and groups alike are likely to flush a rabbit.  If hunting hedgerows, or where cover is thin, then it is a good idea to post a blocker to intercept a sneaker.

If there is snow on the ground, then the work of hunting is easier.  Stalking and flushing tactics work well in snow.  An abundance of tracks in a given area gives away the presence of several rabbits.  Well used rabbit runs are used by a flushed rabbit to return to the point from which started.  It may take some time, without the persuasion of a beagle, but all rabbits circle back to the original point from which he flushed.  In this way, they often are able to circle around a walking hunter and are securely in their home as the hunter goes on in frustration.

In warm weather, rabbits can be jumped almost anywhere there is food.  However, in cold weather they move to the thick cover.  That usually means a tough trail for a human to follow.

It is then that a good beagle is worth his weight in gold.  Beagles are great rabbit dogs, as they will stay on the trail, baying to tell their master where the trail is leading.  The hunter often has only to wait and as the rabbit circles around, the sound of the beagle alerts the hunter to the approach of the rabbit.

Weapons for rabbit hunting range from the ever popular .22 to 12 gauge shotgun.  Bowhunters also have also taken up rabbit hunting.  To the shotgunner, shot sizes of 6 or 7 lead, and 4 steel, are good.  The small size shot gives a good wide pattern to cope with the zigzag run of the rabbit.

The hunting archer can use the same bow that he uses to hunt other game.  His arrows can also do double duty thanks to the interchangeable arrowheads that most deer hunters now use.  The broadhead is removed and a blunt or similar head is substituted.  Bowhunting rabbits is very difficult, but also quite a rewarding experience.

Whatever the weapon, a small game hunting license is required.  But, there are no special permits or stamps required to hunt the Tiny Whitetail.

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