Bummed About Rabbits

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Loyalist Dave

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So Saturday, the last day of February, rabbit season closes.
I haven't seen a wild rabbit on or about the land where I hunt for several years now.

The habitat has improved a great deal. Lots of overgrown brush in what is a defunct attempt at a small vineyard. Woodlots to the West and North. Water to the North on the property boundary.

Lots of chipmunks, field mice, squirrel, groundhogs, and deer. Two different types of woodpeckers, blue birds, etc. Also fox, and several different types of hawks. No feral cats...they met their demise many years ago...

So no bunnies, however. I think the fox and the hawks prevent them from prospering. Meanwhile lots of bunnies in my neighborhood about 3 miles away. I'd live trap them and transplant them, but I don't want the chemicals they have likely picked up from lawn treatments and weed-n-feed.

On the other hand I have not seen tracks this year, but last year I did see what I thought was a bobcat...… maybe it's not such a mystery ???


LD
 

Carbon 6

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Rabbits cycle, they are also susceptible to disease. They breed fast and have short lives. For ten years my woods has been overrun with rabbits, 6 months ago they declined sharply, only seen a few since and almost no tracks in the winter snow. So either disease, weather, me or some predator has finally gotten them under control. But it's really easy to grow a rabbit population in a patch of woods. Spend next summer growing the population and you'll have more than you can shoot.
 

Spikebuck

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On the lease I was on the rabbit population was inverse of the coyote population. I can remember sitting in deer stand when coyote populations were high and just about dark hearing rabbits just screaming...obviously in the jaws of a predator and at that time of day, likely not a bird of prey, unless it was owl. As the coyote population plummeted for a few years, the rabbit population quickly rebounded then dropped again as the coyotes increased.
 

Britsmoothy

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What is the soil like Dave. They like dry sandy soil. Wet clay they will not have. Well drained land they like.
 

Carbon 6

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What is the soil like Dave. They like dry sandy soil. Wet clay they will not have. Well drained land they like.
In my area they hate sandy soil, they love the clay. Guess that's the difference between our areas, but dang if you don't have some big rabbits over there.
 

Dphar1950

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So Saturday, the last day of February, rabbit season closes.
I haven't seen a wild rabbit on or about the land where I hunt for several years now.

The habitat has improved a great deal. Lots of overgrown brush in what is a defunct attempt at a small vineyard. Woodlots to the West and North. Water to the North on the property boundary.

Lots of chipmunks, field mice, squirrel, groundhogs, and deer. Two different types of woodpeckers, blue birds, etc. Also fox, and several different types of hawks. No feral cats...they met their demise many years ago...

So no bunnies, however. I think the fox and the hawks prevent them from prospering. Meanwhile lots of bunnies in my neighborhood about 3 miles away. I'd live trap them and transplant them, but I don't want the chemicals they have likely picked up from lawn treatments and weed-n-feed.

On the other hand I have not seen tracks this year, but last year I did see what I thought was a bobcat...… maybe it's not such a mystery ???


LD
Rabbits can be very cyclical. So get a predator call and shoot the fox and coyote you might have. In poor rabbit years the Bobcats will move out looking for prey. So far as the lawn chemicals, release them and give them 2-3 years and don't worry. Unless you start finding rabbits with 3 eyes or some such. If you shoot the fox in winter they might help pay for the ammo and the call if the price is good and you know how to skin and stretch.
 

Britsmoothy

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Rabbits can be very cyclical. So get a predator call and shoot the fox and coyote you might have. In poor rabbit years the Bobcats will move out looking for prey. So far as the lawn chemicals, release them and give them 2-3 years and don't worry. Unless you start finding rabbits with 3 eyes or some such. If you shoot the fox in winter they might help pay for the ammo and the call if the price is good and you know how to skin and stretch.
My first thought was to shift the fox's! I do all the time.
IMG_20190126_111018_247.jpg
3f&1&1/2 oz of shot. 12g.
 

Carbon 6

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Lots of chipmunks, field mice, squirrel, groundhogs, and deer.
Mice are a coyotes #1 food source. It sounds like good habitat for rabbits, should be easy to improve.

1. Rabbits need shelter from "death from above", make brush piles, use junk like old roofing tin or satellite dishes to create aerial cover placed low on the ground and slightly elevated for the rabbits.

2. Bait them like you would a deer, and grow tall grass food plots, wheat etc.

3. Salt. Rabbits need salt for their breeding cycle. If your area has experienced heavy rains lately Your soil will be washed of natural salts and minerals.

4. This one is guaranteed to be a rabbit magnet.
Build a Rabbitry on the edge of the woods or in the woods. Rabbits, even tame ones attract other rabbits. As does the manure and urine. yes it will also attract other animals, but it is a super rabbit magnet. This is one reason why my rabbit population has declined, I shut down my rabbitry.
 

azmntman

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Long term similar issue around here. When I was a younger deplorable we had areas that were always good for at least a shot at a limit of cottontails. Now I don't even bother, they are so few and far between and I have no idea what where who why when......

Used to get em with bows n pellet guns all the time. May have to look around the rail road tracks again. They used to come out at sunrise and sun themselves on the rocks. (LOTS of bent arrows).
 
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As stated in above posts the rabbit population will vary from year to year and there are many reasons for it. I hunt rabbits on two private farms both are well populated with bunnies but there are plenty of areas heavily covered with brush cedar woods and junk piles, well over grown fence rows in general a rabbit heaven. In past years I had access to a few other farms that were also good places to hunt rabbits but the farmers have cleared out all the over growth, or have sold their farms or which the new owners do not allow any hunting some of these farms I hunted since I was a kid. no cover no rabbits also fox populations have grown, have yet to see a coyote but just this last week the farmer stated they hear them often towards dusk and have seen a few, in my area no trappers. I will limit my hunts to one day each on the farms I hunt and hunt especially late towards the end of the season in my experience the rabbits harvested during late season are about 90% males. I feel this stabilizes the population and helps with the next years population. If the Devine creator was to ask me to hunt only two animals it would be deer and rabbits.
 

Loyalist Dave

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3. Salt. Rabbits need salt for their breeding cycle. If your area has experienced heavy rains lately Your soil will be washed of natural salts and minerals.
THAT may be a problem. I remember the years that I saw rabbits, that salt had been put out for deer and for the owner's kids and their 4-H calf raising project.

So I may just catch and release some bunnies from my yard, and move them over to the field.

LD
 
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I would buy a 50lb. bag of stock salt at your local feed store, find a few brushy areas and place the salt there, I would believe on the farms I hunt that the rabbits obtain salt from the cattle urine and various salt blocks around the pastures. Also I see no reason that stocked rabbits box trapped and re-located would be a problem, the only thing I would suggest is checking with the game warden as to the seasonal laws on trapping them. Have not box trapped rabbits since I was a kid, but then when I was younger I trapped a bunch of them would check the traps before going to school and after my morning chores were completed. The dog and I would make the rounds with a burlap bag collect the morning harvest place them in a wire crate until I came home from school to clean them.
 

fishleclair

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The rabbit population has been going up in my parts, It is cyclical and will soon crash again. Only sad part is on my trap line I see loads of rabbit tracks but the fur does not seem to follow for some strange reason, I get allot of lynx but no foxes and the Marten seem to not go up with the rabbits, Need more Mice or I need to catch more lynx.

Our season for Varying Hare (Snowshoe) runs from Sept 15 to the last day of March. Only problem right now is the snow is just below crotch level in the bush so its hard trudging even with snow shoes. This also is our first year we have to follow a limit for them. Used to be wide open limit on them. Best day was 50 Ground was brown but the hares were white.
 

Carbon 6

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I would buy a 50lb. bag of stock salt at your local feed store, find a few brushy areas and place the salt there,
Make multiple salt licks, but near water is also good, Rabbits need water to stay healthy. Make sure you have a water source or rain depressions to catch water in dry periods. This will benefit all animals.
 

Britsmoothy

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I try to identify the bucks to try and save the does. Don't always get it right like this weekend!
 

fishleclair

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I try to identify the bucks to try and save the does. Don't always get it right like this weekend!
Our season used to be from Sept 1 to June 15 of the following year, The new change effective this year saves us from shooting pregnant does. And the new limit of 5 reduces the over harvest of them as well. I am interested in how to tell them apart.
 
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