Bowhunting Small Gameon Dec 14, 2012
Written by Bowhunting.com contributor....Brodie Swisher
With most of the best days for bowhunting big game now a distant memory, it’s amazing how quick cabin fever can begin to set in. The “off-season-bowhunting-blues” affects different hunters in different ways, and at different times. However, the best cure I’ve found to maintain sanity until spring turkey and black bear seasons begin to unfold is to take advantage of small-game bowhunting opportunities that abound across the country.
Having grown up in the south, I’ve had my share of rabbit hunts with the use of hounds. The action is fast and furious, making it the ideal sport for the shotgun hunter. When I moved to Montana, and mentioned the thought of hunting rabbits to a few of the locals, I quickly heard, “Why would you wanna hunt those things?!?!” There’s no season for rabbits in Montana. They seem to be considered more of a nuisance critter than a game animal. And that’s exactly why they make the perfect off-season target for winter and early spring bowhunting. My pursuit of rabbits has now transitioned from the use of hounds, to spot-n-stalk methods. And the challenge and testing of my stalking and shooting skills continues to lure me back each season. Cottontails, jack rabbits, and snowshoe hares, continue to humble archers across the country in search of winter-time targets.
Squirrel hunting is one of Brodie's favorite ways to break in a new bow each season.
Moving slowly along the edges of thick cover around agriculture fields or timber can often produce shot opportunities at cottontails as they remain motionless, hoping to go unnoticed. And don’t overlook haystacks and barn lots for an abundance of rabbits hanging out close to the farm. Jackrabbits can be found across the western states and across the plains. Jackrabbits can also be found on the edge of thick cover, sunning at the base of a tree or bush, or in open sage flats. Considering the jackrabbits heavy appetite, landowners often allow hunting of these nuisance critters to avoid damage to farmlands.
Rockchucks and groundhogs make for some pretty fat targets as winter gives way to spring.
Snowshoe hares can be found at higher elevations in forested country. The tiny black blink of snowshoe hares eyeball will likely be the only clue to their whereabouts as they sit motionless against the snowy landscape. Again, move slowly. Rabbits will often allow you to walk within “spittin’ distance” before busting out for safer cover.