Wee doggies: It’s rabbit time
James Green’s favorite month is February — he’s a beagle man who loves to set his kennel loose on rabbits.
“I hunt them some in October, November, December and January, but I turn them loose every day in February that the weather allows, and we run rabbits until those dogs run out of can-do,” said Green, who lives in Madison County. “Basically, I use those months to get these pups ready and in top shape for February.
“Gets me ready for February, too. I always drop about 20 or 30 pounds in February. My doctor always laughs about it. I used to go get my annual physical in January every year, and he used to tell me I could stand to lose some weight. One year, I told him about how I always lose weight in February and why, and he invited me to his deer club to rabbit hunt. Now, I get my physical in March.”
Like all rabbit hunters, Green and his two hunting partners are a popular breed in February.
“Everybody becomes a rabbit hunter when deer season ends, or in the Delta when duck season ends,” he said. “That’s when a guy with good beagles is in high demand. I can cherry pick the places I hunt and the people I hunt with, and that’s what makes it so great.”
A semi-retired real estate salesman, Green has the means to hunt as often as he wants. And he wants to hunt every day the weather allows.
“Most of the places we hunt in February are the same lands we’ve been hunting for five or 10 years,” he said. “It would be longer, but CRP affects that. We concentrate on CRP lands with very young pines that create perfect ‘rabbitat,’ which is what we call rabbit habitat. Those places stay good about five years before the trees are big enough to thin and the briars and thick stuff are gone. Then, we look for more.”
Green and partners have what they call “the rabbit hauler” that they take on weekend trips. It’s a self-contained camper that sleeps four that they take to the different locations each weekend. It’s a nomadic lifestyle.
They may be in the Delta one week, in the hills the next.
They’ll target canecutters, aka swamp rabbits, on one hunt, and then cottontails, aka hillbillies or bunny rabbits, the next.
“I don’t really have a preference, but when we get on the bunnies, we usually get into more rabbits,” Green said. “The hillbillies are really great in the Delta and in the Black Belt Prairie (northeast). There was a time last year when we turned the dogs loose in this one turnrow ditch bank in the Delta; within 10 minutes we had 10 different rabbits running in 10 different directions.’
Mississippi’s two species can be found statewide. Swampers tend to inhabit land around creek and river bottoms. Hillbillies inhabit everywhere else.
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