Just curious if anyone would be willing to share what they look for as "prime" snowshoe habbitat?
I have shot several this year in two particularly good spots but I have scouted several others and not seen any or very few bunnies. The only thing I can can find consistent about the spots i've shot them has been fairly heavy spruce cover.
I've been in a bunch of spots with moderate spruce but lots of grass and willow, which seemed to me to be good habitat, but I haven't shot any in those spots!
Any idea what they are eating right now?
They will be in those spots with the thick grass and alders too. They just hole up in the most miserable part of it and the only real way to find them is to get in their and kick em up. Work slow and methodical and they will blow up right at your feet. Once we get a little snow and ice cover (not sure what is out there now) you can find their droppings and urine easier which will let you know if you are in a good area. Usually you can find that in the open where they come out at night to feed then just look around till you find the most miserable tangle which is probably where they will be.
I've seen the most sign in back spruce thickets; hare highways...
However, the last one I killed was hiding behind a birch tree.
Go find an area that has a lot of sign, the beaten down paths, droppings, etc. Hunt those areas at first and last light. I enjoy hunting them with a 22 by walking slowly through the woods and doing more looking than walking. You'll see them before they take off running. Train your eyes to look for their curved back line or their dark black eye.
I have found that the "best hare habitat" typically contains two things. Alder thickets and grass for escape cover, and willows, aspens, and poplar for food. They probably can live in a wide variety of habitats, like spruce mixed with alder, willows, and birch, but the prime habitat typically contains very thick Alders for cover and young willow, and poplar shoots for food. Like Lujon said, when you see the droppings, and urine spots, you know they are close by. Also, young willow, aspen, and poplar shoots will be nipped off cleanly. Not torn off at the top like a moose. Snowshoe hare have two sets of incisors on the top of their jaws and one set on the bottom, which act like pruning shears. Moose only have lower incisors, and they tear the shoots, so the tips looked frayed. Also, just because you see lots of sign, it doesn't necessarily mean they are all around you. They will be close by, but often times, you may see lots of sign that was made in the nighttime. In the day, better to look around the edges of forests, and in brushy ravines, and areas where the alders borders the willows. That is where they typically like to hang out in the day to avoid predators.
I sure appreciate all the input, I just hope my home tanning process goes well, then i'll put some of it to use! I'm mid-way through my first batch of 5 hides, i'll report back next week!
alders along rivers can be very productive. also thick spruce forest with patches of willows almost always have rabbits.
just a hint, for some reason they dont like large open areas and burn patches.
rabbits love thick cover!
I find them most often in willow thickets. I haven't tried but I think I have heard you could try calling.