column and photo by Josh Boyd:
As you wade through the thickets and brambles that dot the landscape before you, as if from the very ground beneath your feet, a cottontail rabbit emerges, sprinting toward the next available source of cover. In a flash, you shoulder your shotgun, swing to the target, and capitalize on the opportunity at hand.
With yet another fine specimen to add to your bag limit, you find yourself ever closer to the wonderful meal that awaits should the day's hunt find much success. Few things warm the chilled bones of a hunter that has been afield in winter's harsh grip as well as a simmering pot of rabbit stew.
Rabbit hunting is a time honored, classic outdoors endeavor that is enjoyed annually by a countless number of Kentucky hunters. With no shortage of quality rabbit habitat at the disposal of South Central Kentucky residents, opportunity awaits all who choose to seize upon it.
Your success when rabbit hunting relies solely on woodsmanship and a little good old-fashioned luck. Whether you return home with a limit of rabbits or not, the time spent in the vast expanses of nature's beauty and the camaraderie shared with friends and family is the true bounty of the day.
Part of the allure toward rabbit hunting stems from the fact that nothing is required to enjoy time afield, short of a shotgun or .22 rifle, a few shells, and a little slice of habitat. One can escape to the field in search of rabbits with little more than what most individuals carry in their truck.
A minimalist approach to rabbit hunting includes walking brushy field adjacent to areas of favored rabbit food sources such as clover. Alternatively, briar thickets or brush piles hold their fair share of rabbits and a half-hearted kick with a boot heel is often all that is required to send a rabbit sprinting from under foot.
This can be a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon, and hunting brush makes for an easy escape when time for your hunt is limited. By "kicking up rabbits", a woods wise hunter can work about the brush at any pace desired, often bagging a limit of cottontails in no more than a couple of hours.
Another significantly popular method for hunting rabbits includes the use of dogs. Beagles or other specially trained breeds run rabbits from their brush-clad hideaways in hopes of presenting the awaiting hunter with a clean shot. Rabbit hunting with the use of dogs often features fast-paced, relentless action.
This can be an immensely enjoyable way to hunt when multiple hunters are involved. When hunters stagger their location, a shot is often presented to one member of the party, no matter which course of escape a rabbit should choose.
When rabbit hunting, firearm selection is relatively straightforward. A shotgun of virtually any caliber is sufficient, although the use of an overly tight choke should be cautioned because of the potential for meat loss. #6 or #7 1/2 shot is often the preferred shot of many.
Some hunters prefer the use of a .22 rifle when rabbit hunting. A .22 will certainly get the job done. However, marksmanship is key, as hard running rabbits seldom stop long enough to present a hunter with a stationary target.
No matter your method or weapon of choice, rabbit hunting comes as an excellent source of outdoor entertainment for all who seek it out. Every hunt has the potential to make worthwhile memories with friends and family, while producing the main course for a dinner that your hunting party won’t soon forget.
Note: the thoughts and opinions expressed by Edmonson Voice guest columnists and authors of submitted articles are their own, not necessarily those of EdmonsonVoice.com