Rabbit Under Foot
Published: January 26th, 2022
By: Eric Davis

Rabbit Under Foot

I was fortunate enough to have a string of people in my life after I passed my Hunter Education course that were able to keep me interested in sticking with hunting. One portion of that group was my friend Todd and three brothers. While we had played on the same soccer team in first or second grade, we didn’t have the same teacher all through elementary school.

Finally in junior high, when we started to move between classrooms throughout the day Todd and I ended up in science class together. When I had gone turkey hunting with my cousin’s boyfriend, Todd was one of my classmates that had any interest in my hunting story that Monday. That fall, Todd invited me to stay the night at his family’s dairy farm and to go out raccoon hunting with his older brother and his Walker coonhound. I took up his offer and had a blast going out after dark, waiting for the dog to start bawling, and running to where Zipper (the dog) had treed the raccoon.

Since we weren’t old enough to gun hunt for deer (16 was the minimum age back then), we spent the fall hunting grouse and squirrels. Once we got some snow, I was invited to rabbit hunt.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was first asked but I packed my 20-gauge 870 my grandfather gave me after passing Hunter Education and some number 6s along with my orange vest. After my mom dropped me off at the farm, I got my stuff ready and we headed out.

As we walked out to the creekbed beyond the heifer barn, Todd explained that we were going to stomp on brush piles to hopefully make the rabbits run out giving us a shot. We would rotate who was the stomper and who the shooters were to make it fair to everyone. Also, we had Daisy, their rescue dog, who was small enough to get into most brush piles which would cause rabbits to flee without someone needing to stomp the brush pile. The key was to pretend you saw a mouse or rat and get Daisy curious enough to go in the brush pile after it.

We made our way down the creekbed for a little bit before we had a rabbit come out of a brush pile, but nobody had a safe shot so it got away. We were able to follow it to another brush pile from its tracks in the snow, yet it got away again. We worked our way to where the creekbed transitioned into a hardwood flat so we turned around and headed back toward the barn. After some discussion, we decided to try going across the road and trying the area around their horse pasture.

Instead of clumps of brush like in the creekbed, there was lines of brush along the edges of the horse pasture that were old fence lines. So for this, they set me on one end while someone walked down the line pushing anything that came out towards me. As I watched the walker coming my way, I noticed some movement in the snow about 15 yards ahead of him. It was a rabbit and it came right down the brush corridor until it stopped about 5 feet from the tip of my boot.

Without thinking about it, I shouldered my shotgun, clicked the safety off, and shot the rabbit. There was not much left of that rabbit when I picked it up, but I was proud that I had been successful! I learned from that shot to let the rabbit get a little farther away before shooting in the future.

We tried another old fence line and Todd was able to shoot a rabbit where the meat was not all-but-gone. So when we returned to the house, I got to see how to skin and dress a rabbit so that it was ready to be prepared for the table.

After that day, we became a nightmare for the rabbits on the farm not just that year but until we graduated high school as we would rabbit hunt after deer season ended.