SOUTHSIDE — For about 30 years, three friends have been getting together and going on hunting trips.
In February, the group of hunters comprised of Greg Hartley, T.D. Dennis, and Keith Pridemore went rabbit hunting in Southside.
Hartley, Dennis, and Pridemore hunted for two hours and 10 minutes and came out with six rabbits caught and caused eight rabbits to “jump” or run out and away from their shelter.
Hartley explained he and his friends hunt each year together in Mason County for various game as well as in South Dakota during pheasant season.
“It’s been enjoyable to hunt with them,” said Hartley. “The 30 years we have spent together has meant a lot to me.”
Each hunting trip he goes on, Hartley keeps a hunting journal jotting down what happened during each day, such as what was caught, what the weather was like, and various other notes. He has been keeping a journal since the 1980’s.
Hartley hunts several different types of game such as rabbit, squirrel, deer, turkey, duck, and pheasant.
In the summers as a child, Hartley would spend time with his maternal grandparents at their farm. This is where his hunting intrigue began. Though there was no animal in season during the summer, he would practice his shooting with his grandfather and then in the fall they would go squirrel hunting. As he grew up, Hartley’s interest in hunting and collecting guns continued to grow.
Though the population of rabbits has decreased throughout the years, many hunters still try their luck at hunting them including Hartley and his friends.
For the state of West Virginia, according to West Virginia Hunting and Trapping on the West Virginia Tourism website, cottontail rabbit hunting was held from Nov. 3, 2018 – Feb. 28 this year.
According to “Hunting the Modern Cottontail Rabbit,” recent surveys have shown that approximately 1.5 million people hunt rabbits and/or hares. Rabbit/hare hunting is ranked as fourth as the most popular hunting endeavor, tied with pheasant hunting and behind only whitetail deer, turkey, and squirrel.
Rabbits live in any area they can find food and cover to hide from predators as well as an area to provide them with warmth and protection from the elements. Popular locations in which rabbits reside are areas with extremely dense cover such as gnarly tanlges of briars, thorns, honeysuckle, and brush. These places make it difficult for coyotes and foxes to get the rabbitts and are also great locations for the rabbits to hide from birds of prey. Once living in a habitat such as this, rabbits hold tight in these areas and often do not “jump” unless their nests are disturbed or they are forced out by a rabbit dog.
Though the rabbit population has shrunk over the years due to the shrinking natural habitat for the rabbits, hunters can still get some take away from their hunts.
Some information from “Hunting the Modern Cottontail Rabbit” and wvtourism.com was used in this article.
Erin (Perkins) Johnson is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.