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Showcasing the DNR: Rabid about ‘Rabbit Time’

By RYAN SOULARD
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
MARQUETTE— As the snow starts to fly and the days get shorter, that means one thing for many folks –Rabbit Time! Rabbit hunting provides an excellent opportunity to get outside this winter, get some exercise, and hopefully bag a rabbit or two if you’re lucky.
My Grandpa Moon used to tell me tales of rabbit hunting with his beagle and his Belgian-made Browning A5 shotgun. Unfortunately, by the time I came along, my grandpa had gotten out of hunting, but the stories sure lived on.
Spending a big portion of his life in Alabama, he was a storyteller without even trying hard at it. I can remember being in awe listening to him tell stories of bringing rabbits home for my mom and grandma to clean, which as a kid was something I just couldn’t comprehend.
“Rynee,” as he liked to call me in that deep Southern accent, “those rabbits made some fine vittles.”
It wasn’t until my late 20s that a group of guys I met from the Grand Rapids area introduced me to rabbit hunting the old-fashioned way, without the use of dogs.
You can have a lot of success with some good old-fashioned stomping through the brush. The cottontail rabbit really prefers brushy and overgrown areas like old fence rows, brush piles, stands of conifers, orchards, stands of grass and overgrown fields.
I can recall my first rabbit hunt, fresh snow on the ground, the crisp cold air and bright blue skies. Naturally, I wasn’t prepared for just how much walking we would do, and I wore way too many clothes, based on what the temperature was, just standing still.
There were several of us who embarked into an old overgrown apple orchard surrounded by old fields. We all made sure we had plenty of orange on and began our march, side by side through the woods.
Bobbing, weaving, stomping and kicking brush, along with a little huffing and puffing at times to catch our breath, not only from the exercise but from the endless number of laughs.

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