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hello,

Went out on my first small game hunt two days ago at a local WMA, and spent about two hours trudging through 1-3 feet of snow to not see anything but a bunch of tracks. Looking for some tips/advice, want to make sure I'm doing the right things..

I showed up around 12 pm, temp was about 35 degrees and it was a bright/overcast day. No strong winds. I saw tracks everywhere, but they looked probably a day old, nothing fresh that resembled the tracks I was making.

I saw one other woman walking her dogs leaving the WMA, right as I was entering - she said that she rarely sees anything here because so many people walk their dogs off leash - but that really seemed to contradict the amount of tracks I saw, along with the skinned raccoon tail I stepped over as I walked onto the trail.. I also heard guns in the distance go off twice, I think from the other side of the WMA.

The WMA itself is a wetland area, I walked along the edge of tree foliage and grassland areas, seeing plenty of tracks but no actual animals. I would walk a few feet then stop, scanning, then walk another few feet, scanning. Nothing, no movements, no sound, nada.

Bad spot? Bad technique? Bad time? Bad luck? What do you think?
 

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Since 03-15- 2002
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We tend to walk right by them quite a bit. Sometimes it’s good to walk a little and just stop for a bit. If ones close, may get nervous and bolt. They like to run behind you when you pass as well.

Check sunny hill sides. They don’t like being cold.

That aren’t always in fields. They like timber too. I’d you have a coyote problem, probly have a rabbit problem as well.

Best we ever did was when my buddy had a good beagle.


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I assume in MN your hiunting the snow shoe hare mostly. Yes one cane leave a lot of tracks in a short time and if it has not snow recent you could be seeing several days worth of tracks.

With all that being said A tip or two.
One don't look for the whole rabbit/hare look for that shiny black eye, no way they can hide that.
Look for places it appears they have sat for a bit and look for simular areas.

Yes day time hunting the area can be tough if people free range their dogs there. Hunt deeper into the area where fewer folks are willing to walk in 3 feet of snow.
I am guessing your on snow shoes to get thru the area?
stay off the traveled paths also.

Years ago my brother and I got a dog from the pound that looked to have some hunting Genes in her. She teamed up with my brothers spring really nice.
His springer was a sight runner and the mutt we named beave cause she liked to chew on chunks of wood would be slower and work the track out and be on the rabbit till the springer caught up.



:D Al
 

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You hunting hare or cottontails? With a dog or not? As alleypooper says first find a spot that is more quiet and secluded. I hunt both almost every Sunday during season here with our beagle. Hare would be extremely tough to hunt without a dog i would think. Cottontails don't rage too far and usually are found close by any kind of tracks in nearest thick cover. I believe hare range a much larger area , and are just as happy in the open woods as a brush pile or tangled in a multiflora rosebush. I've seen hare tracks everywhere , seemingly from the night before and we can't find one anywhere in the area with even a dog the next day. Maybe just scent conditions due to weather/ wind or whatever. Hare are more of a challenge due to range and where they might be hanging out any particular day it seems. If a dog can't find them some days, we can't seem to either. Lol!
 

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If I’m hunting without a dog it’s mostly about patience. Find some sign and wait quietly for a while. Move on if nothing happens after a bit. In less traveled areas I can sometimes do well flushing them out by banging around a stick as I walk a ridge. They bolt but will stop under the nearest cover and can be dispatched with an arrow or .22 easily enough.

With a dog, he sniffs around and acts like a doofus. A rabbit flushes. I call the dog back with his two commands of “With Me” followed by “Behind Me”. Then I pop the rabbit with a .22. They always stop in the nearest cover after the pressure is off.

as an aside, The “Behind me” command was the best thing I’ve ever taught my dogs (singular dog, now), I can archery or rimfire hunt with them much more safely. They were taught to get directly behind me and sit. It was a hard command to teach because they lose sight of my face and know I’m not looking at them...
 

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If you can use a Beagle I always enjoyed them picking up the trail of a rabbit and then running it in a huge circle and bringing it right back to us.
 

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Since 03-15- 2002
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If you can use a Beagle I always enjoyed them picking up the trail of a rabbit and then running it in a huge circle and bringing it right back to us.
79aff396f430ca40-photo.jpg

Best dog my buddy ever had. Copper was part **** dog part beagle. He would hunt until his tail was bloody then get mad at us because we had to quit due to it being dark.



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hello,

Went out on my first small game hunt two days ago at a local WMA, and spent about two hours trudging through 1-3 feet of snow to not see anything but a bunch of tracks. Looking for some tips/advice, want to make sure I'm doing the right things..

I showed up around 12 pm, temp was about 35 degrees and it was a bright/overcast day. No strong winds. I saw tracks everywhere, but they looked probably a day old, nothing fresh that resembled the tracks I was making.

I saw one other woman walking her dogs leaving the WMA, right as I was entering - she said that she rarely sees anything here because so many people walk their dogs off leash - but that really seemed to contradict the amount of tracks I saw, along with the skinned raccoon tail I stepped over as I walked onto the trail.. I also heard guns in the distance go off twice, I think from the other side of the WMA.

The WMA itself is a wetland area, I walked along the edge of tree foliage and grassland areas, seeing plenty of tracks but no actual animals. I would walk a few feet then stop, scanning, then walk another few feet, scanning. Nothing, no movements, no sound, nada.

Bad spot? Bad technique? Bad time? Bad luck? What do you think?
By now the WMA properties have been hunted to death. You are starting out on an uphill climb all day long with that plan BUT you just never know. 4 of use walked all afternoon about this time last year and shot two. So if you multiply that out that would be equivalent to about 2 days of one guy walking by himself.

I'd try to make a better plan, better ground, less hunted and more rabbits. #2 get a good dog.
 
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I always found that more often than not, if you stop 30 seconds or so after walking 30 yards or so, the bunnies get nervous and bust loose running. So be sure to take it slow and pause now and then .
 
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