Deer hunting has been the big topic for weeks now, and with muzzleloader season coming up beginning Thursday, that's not likely to change. Hunters are flooding into sporting goods stores, buying powder and ball, and other necessities like jerky and a new skinning knife. But some hunters have already bagged their deer, 167,000 or so of them, and don't plan to hunt anymore. What can you do for the next weeks? Remember rabbits?
When the season opened on Nov. 2, everyone who could stomp a brushpile and carry a shotgun was out there looking for cottontails, and most found enough to make some tasty skillets filled with crisp fried rabbit. But few people indeed are looking for them now, and they're still out there waiting, if you'll remember that their habits have changed.
Those first-of-the-season bunnies were still enjoying reasonably warm weather and following usual rabbit behavior. Which means they leave their daytime layup spots each night, hop around in the dark feeding on everything from dandelion greens to field clover, then before dawn find a place to sleep for the day. In decent weather, that sleeping spot could be anything from rolled over grass to a tiny brier thicket or just a field of goldenrod and Queen Anne's lace. Easy to find them and easy to bag some.
But the weather has gone bad now with occasional snows and some bitter cold weather. They're a lot like people when it comes to temperatures in the teens or less. You wouldn't sleep out in it and neither will they, which means most will head down woodchuck holes, and join the chuck well below the chill. Or seek out a brushpile that's nice and thick, and has insulating snow cover to keep it warmer. Or burrow under old farm machinery, or whatever. You get the idea.