John’s Note: Now’s the time in February that outdoorsmen particularly enjoy hunting rabbits, especially with their families, neighbors and friends. 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 the nation, farming practices have changed. The small-plot family farm generally either has been abandoned or replaced with big-field farms, which are not conducive to rabbit hunting. So, where can a fellow go to find a mess 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.
Throughout much of the country, you’ll see abandoned railroad tracks.
Most of the time when builders make railroad beds, they’ll build the tracks on some type of mound above the surrounding ground level. In many areas along the edges of these old, abandoned railroad tracks, you’ll find briar and high grass thickets that rabbits dearly love.
Once when I hunted with my rabbit-hunting buddy, Mel Stewart of Dora, Alabama, we found some outstanding beagle-dog bunny hunting along an abandoned railroad track in the southern part of my home state of Alabama. “John, I like to hunt railroad tracks because a hunter can stand on the side of the roadbed, look down in the cover and see the bunnies when they move,” Stewart told me. “Another hunter can stand on the opposite side of that thick cover and spot the rabbits as they break to come out of the thicket. My favorite railroad tracks to hunt are abandoned railroad beds that go through farm country or that run along the edges of creeks or parallel to old roads. If you can find one of these places that also has a clearing on the opposite side of the roadbed, you usually can discover plenty of bunnies. If your dogs like to jump deer and run them, you quickly and easily can get ahead of your dogs, if you see a whitetail instead of a cottontail, when hunting abandoned railroad tracks. My dogs have the advantage of being raised and trained to be deer-proof. When I rabbit hunt, I don’t want to spend time catching up dogs that are chasing deer instead of rabbit hunting. I prefer to devote all my time to chasing rabbits.”
However, If you plan to hunt railroad track rabbits, make sure the railroad tracks no longer carry trains on them, and that no law in your state prohibits hunting a certain distance from railroad tracks. Many states allow hunting on the right-of-ways on the sides of abandoned railroad tracks. But the right-of-ways on the edges of railroad tracks still in use cannot be hunted in most states. Check with your state’s Department of Conservation.
For delicious recipes for preparing rabbits and other wild game with our family’s recipes from the past 45+ years in the outdoors, get John and Denise Phillips’ new eBook “The Best Wild Game & Seafood Cookbook Ever: 350 Southern Recipes for Deer, Turkey, Fish, Seafood, Small Game and Birds.” “Click here to get this book.”
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. “Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.”