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QUAIL/RABBIT SEASONS OPEN
By Steve McCadams
Novemberís arrival brings on a potpourri of hunting opportunities for
Tennessee sportsmen and fishermen are still in the picture too.
Among the seasons opening up this week are small game, namely quail and
rabbit. Unfortunately, very few quail are left in the countryside so in
the opinions of most veteran bird hunters the opening of quail is a moot
There are a few hunters holding on to bird dogs and the southern
tradition but their numbers, like the quail they pursue, are few and far
Rabbit hunters, on the other hand, are anxious to drop the tailgate and
let the games begin. The beagles are overdue for some good races as
theyíve had a long rest since season ended back in February.
Yet there is some concern on the part of both deer hunters and rabbit
hunters when season openers conflict. Muzzleloader season opens Saturday
and so do quail and rabbit seasons. Sometimes deer hunters donít want
their chosen area to get disturbed by a pack of beagles running rabbits
through the area.
The deer usually hit the trail and get out of Dodge when dogs enter the
Also concerned are bird and rabbit hunters who fear the danger of
hunting in an area where muzzleloaders are present, not to mention the
concern and safety of their dogs. Most fellow sportsmen would never
shoot a manís hunting dog but there have been times when bad things
The hunting dog doesnít know when acreage might be posted or someone
else is hunting in the area. Thatís why opening the seasons at the same
time is a recipe for conflict, at least in some sectors.
Many rabbit and quail hunters simply donít go if their favorite season
opens at the same time as a popular segment of deer season. They defer
until weekdays or later in the season when hunting pressure diminishes
for all concerned.
Meanwhile, rabbit hunters are always wondering how the numbers look for
the season ahead and whether or not some of their favorite spots are
still intact the way they remembered them. Each year habitat disappears
and small game gets pushed aside when fencerows vanish and gullies of
honeysuckle or other thick vegetation disappear.
Small game must have a place to hide and thrive. Many hunters voice
concern over predators such as coyotes, fox, raccoons, skunks, bobcat
and feral cats that hunt all the time and take a toll, especially during
the nesting season.
Fortunately, thereís still enough cover to keep rabbit hunters going
from year to year. The same cannot be said of quail hunters who have
suffered years of habitat loss and various factors that contributed to
the demise of southern bobwhites that once thrived across the
Ready or not here comes small game seasons. Bag limit remains five daily
on rabbits and six on quail. Seasons run all the way through February
29, 2016, which means another day added for Leap Year this time around.