MULHERIN: Bunny hunting: Winter is prime time for rabbit hunting in Michigan | Sports

MULHERIN: Bunny hunting: Winter is prime time for rabbit hunting in Michigan | Sports

In my decades as a sportswriter, we normally debated what the most physically demanding athletics ended up. Drinking water polo normally arrived out on best, adopted by cross-nation skiing, hockey and lacrosse.

Rabbit looking — at minimum the way we do it — could be in that listing.

My group of good friends and I really do not have puppies, so we really don’t hunt with them. I have hunted with dogs and it’s a pleasure. Listening to them bark, viewing them deliver the rabbits back again all around in entrance of you, seeing their pleasure when you ultimately shoot one.

But we don’t have dogs, so we are the canines.

Kevin Swygert, Dan Adams, Paul Kline, Joseph Kline and Matt Farber were being type plenty of to invite me along for their yearly hunt on Monday, and I assume we all arrived away a tiny much more gassed than typical.

The snow was not quite deep ample for snowshoes, but experienced a sugary crust on prime so you couldn’t shuffle via it like powder. It designed for some tricky walking.

I just cannot tell you how quite a few miles we walked simply because my Fitbit quit at 6.7 miles. I would guess that was about two-thirds of the way via our hike.

Rabbit terrain

If you’ve in no way absent rabbit looking, it’s a tour of some pretty inhospitable place. Rabbits like deal with since they have about a dozen predators soon after them, such as coyotes, crimson foxes, gray foxes, domestic dogs, bobcats, residence cats and a assortment of hawks and owls. If you are following cottontails in organic state, you want spruces, pines and thickets. Although they’re not a wetland species, they will happily use the edges of any wetland with tall grass and pointy bushes.

In our scenario, we were being hunting farmland absent fallow, swamp and orchard place with vehicle-sized brush piles.

Climbing the brush piles and hoping to get rabbits to scatter out is an work out in exertion. If you are not climbing the piles you’re pushing by restricted cover knitted with Rose-Of-Sharon thorns. We virtually all experienced blood on our faces by the conclude of the hunt.

If you know of some farmland that is out of production or an aged barn yard, ask the entrepreneurs for authorization to stomp close to for rabbits. You may well be astonished what you locate.

What is the ideal way to find public land for rabbits? Get out of the car or truck at the time in a whilst, for starters. Consider a walk. The Manistee Countrywide Forest is far more than 50 {aa306df364483ed8c06b6842f2b7c3ab56b70d0f5156cbd2df60de6b4288a84f} a million acres. Pair the condition recreation places with that and the Professional Forest Act homes and you’re wanting at much more land than you can hunt in a lifetime. How do you narrow it down? Nicely, the MI-Hunt resource that you can discover on the Michigan DNR’s site is a great spot to begin. This is a GIS map with unique layers you can convert on and off. Switch on the public land layer and then begin actively playing with the tree deal with layer and you are going to quickly see probably locations for your lookup. Save a bunch of them to your mobile phone on a wonderful system like On-X Maps or Strava and you’re in business enterprise.

Suiting up

If you really do not have puppies, you are likely to be masking floor. You are heading to want to dress in layers like a cross-state skier, but you want an outer layer which is briar-evidence. I put on briar-proof denims on my legs and a Gamehide coat that belonged to my father. I still get snagged here or there, but I can pull cost-free without as well substantially energy. Of program you however have to have an outer layer of blaze orange.

My less than levels had been just off-brand name Underneath Armour and then a sweatshirt. I have on pack boots when there’s this a lot snow, but a number of of our social gathering had the substantial neoprene boots. My recommendation is to use Gore-Tex gaiters in excess of your boots simply because individuals thorns seize every little thing but that, it appears.

If you do have dogs, you will want to gown like you do for sitting for deer looking. Heavier layers will continue to keep you warm when you’re just sitting down there listening to the baying and hoping the pet delivers the rabbit back again close to.

I have hunted rabbits and hares (and bobcats) on snowshoes. It can be performed, but it adds a amount of issues when you’re trying to maneuver in limited quarters. This 7 days we experienced 6-9 inches of snow to walk by and I would say if it was a consistent 9 we would have been on snowshoes.

Loading up

Although there are rabbits manufactured of iron in Riverton, they usually aren’t challenging prey. They are speedy and they are good at fitting in limited spaces, but if you put a pellet or two into them, they generally go down. This suggests that you can hunt them with anything at all from a .22 pistol up to a 12-gauge shotgun. A 20-gauge shotgun is about best for them for the reason that it is lightweight and will spray direct large sufficient to catch up with a bunny in full flight.

I have alternated among a hammer-fired single-shot shotgun and a 12-gauge pump shotgun with various results. I strongly propose a excursion to the skeet or entice range to get in the pattern of primary your concentrate on.

Our hunt

We were searching floor that experienced been hunted two months earlier by some younger hunters so we weren’t confident what form of results we would have. As it turned out, we did really perfectly, netting 9 rabbits amongst 6 hunters.

Looking without the need of puppies is celebration looking. You could possibly shoot a rabbit, but without having your buddy stomping or kicking as a result of the brush, that rabbit wouldn’t have bolted to give you that shot. So you have to have a group way of thinking for this form of hunting.

As luck would have it, I virtually stepped on our to start with rabbit. I shouted “Bunny!” and Matt took a shot that induced the rabbit to hunch up. It held operating and I built a comply with-up shot that I imagined went large. When Matt followed the rabbit, he found it was completely ready for the video game pocket.

Farber and Paul kicked up a further rabbit that Adams dropped with a wonderful shot.

The future rabbit was kicked up by learn pet dog Paul Kline and shot by our host, Kevin. The rabbit ran involving us all and gave us a fantastic reminder to continue to keep be aware of wherever anyone is in this variety of thick-stuff searching.

We kicked up an additional rabbit around a pond and I was the closest to it, but the thick marshgrass I had flushed it from caught my shotgun barrel and I experienced no shot.

At that issue our team break up up with the Klines getting plenty of shooting on 1 side of the pond while the other four of us labored to kick up rabbits from the other aspect. As we labored our way south and east, we discovered the bunnies had been in drifted-in excess of marsh grass and the reduced branches of bushes. We flushed a person that nobody could look to drop in advance of Swygert did.

Then matters got silent all-around midday. As our going for walks gait became a trudging gait, the rabbits obtained stubborn and held limited to deal with. I kicked one out of a big brushpile that went out about 4 ft and turned around and went right back in in advance of Swygert experienced a shot.

With the weighty cloud go over and moist, severe wind, I almost certainly would have sat limited, also.

In the finish, we all dropped some pounds and had a great time, which is genuinely all you can ask out of a chilly winter season day.