Battle-proven Tricks for Hunting Briar Patch Bunnies

It’s time for rabbit hunting. There are plenty of places to pursue bunnies, but there is one place serious hunters look for when searching for a good cottontail hotspot. That place is a nice, thick briar patch. Oh sure, rabbits can also be found around brush piles, thick stands of bushes, fallen trees, overgrown fencerows and other thickets, but they really love briar patches. Briar patches made up of raspberries, blackberries or multi-flora rose are common, and they are real rabbit magnets.

Rabbits love briar patches for many reasons. The thorny plants provide excellent cover for rabbits. Airborne predators like hawks and owls avoid flying into the thorny tangles. Other predators, like foxes and coyotes, will chase rabbits through the briars, but the nimble bunnies are faster and can usually get away.

All the comforts of home

Briar patches are a major food source for rabbits during the cold months. Since rabbits do not hibernate, they need to find food every day. Rabbits eat grasses and other vegetation until it becomes covered in snow, then they chew on bark from briar shoots and small saplings. Briars are one of their favorite winter foods!

The thickest brambles and briar patches offer rabbits good protection from the wind and weather. They also shield the rabbits from the cold rain and snow, at least to some extent. Once the snow falls, rabbits crawl into the many open pockets under the snow and continue to eat the raspberry and blackberry shoots in comfort and safety.

Hunters need only look for thick stands of briars at the edges of woodlots or farmer’s fields to find some good rabbit territory. Having a good rabbit dog makes a big difference when hunting in and around briar patches, though. Beagles are great rabbit hunters. They can usually follow the scent on a rabbit trail with surprising ease. They almost always get excited when they smell or see a rabbit, and they start baying loudly to let you know they are hot on the trail!

Beagles are not afraid to go into the briars to chase the rabbits out. When a rabbit comes bursting out of the thicket, you had better be ready to take a shot quickly! Sometimes you get a good shot at a rabbit right on the edge of the briar patch, but then he crawls into the thick stuff before expiring. That’s when a beagle that can retrieve the rabbit for you is worth his weight in gold.

Waiting for the best shot

A good point to remember when hunting thick briar patches is that you won’t always get a clear shot at the bunny when he makes a break for it or when the dog jumps him. That’s okay. Let him run. The dog will follow his trail if he loses sight of him, barking and baying like mad. Most rabbits tend to circle back and return to where they were jumped. If you stay in one spot and wait for the rabbit to come back, you are likely to get a good shot. Be aware that they may try to circle in behind you.

Another thing to keep in mind is that rabbits tend to panic if you approach them slowly. Their first instinct is to freeze and hope that you don’t see them hiding, since they blend in very well with their surroundings. If you keep walking and pass them by, they know that their hiding strategy worked. If you stop and watch, they can get very anxious. They often burst from the cover and make a run for it, thinking that you stopped because you saw them.

Be sure to wear proper clothing when you target bunnies in the briar patch. Briars have thorns, and thorns take the fun out of a trip in a hurry. Protective clothing like pants or chaps with thorn-proof material on the front can be a lifesaver. Hunting boots and a briar-resistant coat or jacket will make for a more pleasant day, also. Don’t forget to wear a fluorescent orange hat and vest, too. Thick cover hides hunters as well as rabbits, and you want to be able to see your hunting partners.

Not a limitless supply

One last thought is to use some discretion when it comes to harvesting rabbits from your favorite hotspots. Rabbits are prolific breeders, but they can be overhunted—especially in small areas. A good rule of thumb is to harvest only one rabbit for each two or three acres of land that you are hunting.

Rabbit hunting is a fun and exciting way to spend a beautiful November day, so get out there and enjoy the outdoors! With any luck, you will have a successful hunt and you and your hunting partners will soon be feasting on fried rabbit!