Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports columns

January 5, 2013

MARTINO: Cottontail capers offer return to your roots

The briars ripped at my coveralls as we made our way through the overgrown thicket of shin tangle. January can be the perfect time to get out and do a little rabbit hunting. Our recent snow even made conditions better.

For many of us, it can be a trip back to our early outdoor roots and simpler times. For others, it can be an introduction to something you’ve been missing. There is no hunting activity that is more suited for youngsters. It’s a chance to get back into the field and find some bonus hunting and excitement.

This is just what hunting cottontails is all about. There is no sitting motionless waiting for deer, ducks or turkeys. Rabbit hunting lets you take the hunt to the game, while getting refreshing exercise in crisp winter air.

Hunting cottontails isn’t rocket science, but it’s not a stroll through the woods either, literally. Rabbits love dense cover that grows close to the ground, something of which mature woods are void. My friend Rob Stedry calls perfect habitat “rabbitat.” He says if you can throw your hat three times in any direction and it never hits the ground you are in the right spot. He looks for thickets, groves of raspberries, bushes, brush and brush piles. Overgrown fencerows with wild or forgotten corners are also good spots. Rabbits, like most wild game, love edges of various types of thick cover.

In today’s age, most folks don’t have beagles or hounds and they are not a necessity by any means. The best approach is to line up with your hunting partners and work the cover. Bunnies are easily flushed by rooting around, walking through or kicking likely hiding spots. After a few flushes you quickly learn the kinds of places rabbits like to hide in. On this particular day it appeared the rabbits preferred downed tree tops where grass and weeds had grown around and through it.

Although methods may differ from hunter to hunter there are several standards that can get a rabbit to forsake its tight-sitting cover. Like many well-camouflaged critters, a rabbit can’t stand to be out-waited. Pausing can make them a nervous wreck, it kind of works like this. Enter a good location and begin walking very slowly picking at thick cover. After 15 or 20 steps, stop for a minute, then repeat the process. The sound of your approach may flush some rabbits, but often it is the silence that does the trick. Apparently the rabbit thinks its been spotted and decides to make a run for it. Forget about that hippity-hop stuff. A fleeing cottontail can hug the ground like the finest sports car banking a tight curve.

When hunting with others, it’s best to line up about 50 feet apart walking abreast. Move in a staggered succession. One hunter moves up about 20 feet and waits while the other hunter then moves up and waits, alternating until the cover is worked.

The shooting can be fun as well. Shotguns are by far the best and any gauge will work but most prefer a 20 gauge. Most important is the choke. Improved cylinder or modified are tops since most of your shots will be close range especially in thick cover. I do know of people who prefer using a .22 rifle and take more of a still hunting approach. However, scatterguns and busting brush are by far the most popular method.

Although Indiana does have a few places open to the public, 97 percent of Indiana is privately owned. As far as most hunting endeavors are concerned, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a place. Landowners are fairly receptive if all you want to do is chase a few rabbits. Bring a child with you and you have just upped your odds dramatically on gaining permission. Indiana’s rabbit hunting season runs until Feb. 15 with a daily bag limit of five.

There is no doubt chasing rabbits is a fantastic winter time activity, not to mention their quality table fare. Few wild game are as delicious or versatile as rabbit. The meat is lean, delicate and white. It can be cooked in every conceivable way from simply pan fried to baked, stewed, roasted or placed casseroles. The taste is comparable to — wait for it — chicken, and recipes for the two are nearly interchangeable.

Sure, it may lack the sudden explosiveness of hunting upland game birds or the mesmerism of a duck hunt at dawn, but it does have an allure all its own. The real magic of rabbit hunting is its simplicity. It does take some work but not near as much as other types of hunting. There is no need to build blinds or stands. It is not imperative to be out at daylight either and high-dollar equipment can be left at home. Just find an area with adequate cover and the fun will come naturally.

TV Show Hosts Kids Fishing Clinic

Over the past several years, Michigan’s Kim and Danny Stricker graciously made guest appearances at our community’s Jim “Moose” Carden Kokomo Kids Fishing Clinic. The Strickers produce one of the nations’s most watched angling programs, appropriately titled “Hook and Look.” Besides fishing clips, the program also incorporates underwater footage unlike other television broadcasts.

While on their visit to Kokomo the Strickers provide participants of our Kids Fishing Clinic with a captivating and informative presentation. Last summer they also filmed the closing for one of their shows featuring clinic students and parents.

The Strickers have informed me the show’s “sign-off” featuring local talent will air Saturday, Jan. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 20. “Hook and Look” is featured on the Outdoor Channel. Air times will be 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Jan. 19 and 7 a.m. on Jan. 20. Be sure to tune in and see if you recognize any familiar faces.

John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at jmartinooutdoors@att.net.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports columns
  • State Briefs Instructor, student pilot hurt in crash GREENWOOD (AP) -- A flight instructor whose plane crashed while he was giving a lesson has told police the craft had engine problems. Police say 65-year-old Dennis Rumley of Greenwood and 38-year-old student pi

    March 19, 2014

  • de la Bastide, Ken mug ID de la Bastide: Young stars shine in Georgia For the past few years I have had the privilege of watching two up and coming stars in the super late model ranks that are going to make noise in NASCAR. The two drivers scored victories this past weekend at the Champion Racing Association's annual S

    January 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • de la Bastide: IndyCar silly season is heating up

    The start of silly season for 2014 has started in the Izod IndyCar Series with just a handful of races remaining.

    August 14, 2013

  • Emmons, Rohlfing select colleges Preston Emmons enjoyed a breakout season as the catcher on Kokomo's baseball team. He drew college interest at just the right time, and will join Wildkats teammate Eli Grimes at Goshen College, where he will continue his career on the diamond with th

    June 13, 2013

  • Hibbert.jpg GASKINS: Hibbert’s block was thing of beauty

    For the better part of the NBA season, ESPN devoted all kinds of time on SportsCenter episodes to replays of two dunks. Anyone who watches any ESPN at all surely knows the two to which I’m referring: 6-foot-11 DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers posterizing 6-3 Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons, and 6-8 LeBron James of the Miami Heat hammering home a dunk over 6-2 Jason Terry of the Boston Celtics.
    Day after day, ESPN commentators lavished endless praise, which quickly grew tiresome. The dunks were strong, but Jordan and James were much taller and heavier than Knight and Terry and the dunkers also caught perfect alley-oop passes with the defenders in poor positions to defend. Still, ESPN commentators loved these plays.
    I kept wondering if a great defensive play would receive the same kind of love.

    May 21, 2013 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT042413 - Art for Bowman.jpg Gas City I-69 Speedway has big show in store

    Weather permitting, the local racing action will kick off this weekend as the Gas City I-69 Speedway will play host to the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series on Friday night.
    Last week’s scheduled opener for the bullring in Grant County fell victim to the heavy rains that besieged large portions of central Indiana.

    April 24, 2013 1 Photo

  • Frederickson.jpg BOWMAN: Frederickson ready for his 20th year of racing

    As hard as it is to believe, when Kokomo’s Jamie Frederickson rolls onto a race track in the coming days, it will mark his 20th year of toiling in a non-wing sprint car.
    Entering this season, Frederickson has high hopes as a result of the previous 19 years honing his craft and bettering his equipment.
    “This year is pretty much like I am every year,” said Frederickson. “My main goal is that I would really like to pick up a feature win at some time this year. I don’t care where it’s at and how I do it, I just want to win a feature before this year is over.”

    April 19, 2013 1 Photo

  • Indiana’s Crean simply fails to inspire confidence

    Survive and advance?
    More like, struggle and aggravate.
    Such is the frustrating reality for Indiana University men’s basketball fans this season. Blessed with roster talent rivaled only by Hoosier teams of lore, coach Tom Crean stumbles his way through game plans, matchups and adjustments; the outcome is occasionally brilliant, but largely inconsistent and underachieving.

    March 28, 2013

  • GASKINS: Schultes' deaths hit hard

    Like many others, I am walking around with a pit in my stomach following the senseless deaths of Dennis and Judy Schulte earlier this week in Seattle. The retired Kokomo couple was walking with their daughter-in-law, Karina Schulte, and her 10-day-old son when they were slammed into by a suspected drunk driver.
    Dennis had deep roots in Western athletics. He was a longtime assistant coach in football and wrestling and later the head coach in wrestling. In addition, he was a rock-solid teacher in the math department. Judy worked in education at Northwestern.

    March 28, 2013

  • Hoban had zeal for Tigers

    While Merrill Hoban put his signature on Howard County basketball during a 12-year reign as coach at Northwestern High School, it was his influence and lasting relationships with players, students, colleagues, friends and family that will be remembered most fondly. Hoban, 91, was a teacher at Northwestern for 31 years. He died Wednesday at St. Joseph Hospital.


    March 25, 2013

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
US: We Do Not Pay Ransom to Terrorists Ferguson Teachers Training to Deal With Trauma Jon Hamm on the Unrest in Ferguson Tit for Tat? McDonald's Shuttered in Moscow Life on the Professional Video Game Circuit TX Gov Perry in Washington: 'Confident' in Case Hospital Releases Two Missionaries Who Had Ebola Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle NYC Doctor-in-chief Seeks Community Approach Indonesian Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters Raw: Shots Fired in Liberian Shantytown DOJ, Bank of America Reach Record Settlement Raw: Cubavision Airs Images of Fidel Castro Raw: Grief After Deadly Airstrikes in Gaza Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Kathy Griffin Challenges Minaj to 'a Booty Off' Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller