Hunting rabbits is a diverse activity, and there are many capable ways of hunting these animals. Of course, the prevalent image of the rabbit hunt is the hunter using their dogs as part of the process. However, not all hunters want to use dogs, and others simply enjoy the experience of hunting completely alone.
Fortunately, there are alternative methods for rabbit hunting, and many of them are quite effective. One such example is the stop-and-go technique, which is not only extremely effective, but the perfect solution for the hunter who wants to hunt alone or without dogs.
Rabbits are remarkably nervous by nature. It is one of the animal’s signature characteristics. Just like a human, suspense affects the animal in a tangible way. Consider the games of hide-and-seek as a child. The most anxiety-filled moments came while waiting in the hiding spot. Rabbits experience intensity much like that.
The stop-and-go technique leverages this effect. For example, the rabbit hunter enters the covert and then walks ten paces. The hunter will then stop for 60 seconds, and then repeat the process. There will be times when the simple sound of the approach is enough to flush the cottontails out.
However, in most cases, it is the anticipation of the silent period that will eventually flush them. The rabbit’s anxiety level will increase until it is overcome by it, and reacts to the fact that it has been detected even though it has not. The rabbit makes a run for it, and in the process provides a clean shot.
Of course, that description of the stop-and-go technique makes it sound much simpler than it actually is. If the novice steps into the covert based solely on the words above, chances are that he or she leaves with nothing. Practice makes perfect, but also, studying the nature of rabbits makes perfect.
Dogs will often disguise our shortcomings as a hunter. Employing a technique such as stop and go exposes these shortcomings more easily. As the hunter grows more familiar with rabbit behavior, he can alter his game plan on the fly. Perhaps a variable wait time is the key to flushing this particular rabbit.
Many novices to the stop-and-go method undervalue the importance of the walk. Chaotic, fast, and noisy are not adjectives that one wants associated with the go portion of the technique. For one, it often has the opposite effect and keeps the rabbit pinned down in its hiding spot.
Secondly, if it does manage to flush the rabbit and the kill is important, it often leaves the hunter in an awkward position that is not well suited to a clean shot. Walk on the tiptoes and watch the rabbit as much as possible. Don’t worry about grabbing its attention. You’ll have it.
Another key to successful rabbit hunting, and this one holds true for all forms, is the careful study of escape routes. Rabbits learn from their escapes, and they improve on them. Older rabbits will have often achieved the best available route in an area. If you monitor the path of one, the chances are that the next rabbit will follow that route, allowing the hunter to anticipate its movements.
If using the stop-and-go technique as part of a pair or more, consider putting one hunter in the stand or other vantage point. This is particularly effective for hunting rabbits when the kill matters. The walking hunter employs the stop-and-go technique to flush out the rabbit while the other waits, lined up to take the shot.
For many rabbit hunters the stop-and-go method or similar technique is their first introduction to rabbit hunting. If that is that case, it is important that the novice be aware of a few items. Rabbits tend to move from side to side when running along a stretch. If they run out into an open field, a pattern develops, and the hunter can use that pattern to anticipate the rabbit’s moves.