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Choctaw Wildlife & Parks

"Keeping the Rabbitstick Tradition Alive"

After a gathering of dos and don'ts along with guidance and stories from our rabbitstick experts, Barry Ben and the late Henry Williams, it's not long after the dogs are released before the silence is broken and the first rabbit is jumped, the chase is on, and the excitement begins. Along with the races of the dogs, a lot of the excitement comes from the gathering of youth and young at heart moving towards the location of the rabbits in hopes of not only attempting to throw a rabbitstick, but just the opportunity of seeing a rabbit. For some of the youth, this may be the first time of experiencing Choctaw hunting in the traditional form.

Choctaw rabbitstick hunting is as primitive as primitive can get. Rabbitsticks are carved out of hickory in sticks made for the hunters, ideally 18 inches long. A handle is carved leaving the top 5 inches or so natural depicting a "club". Most hunters carry at least two sticks in an attempt to better their odds of harvesting a rabbit. Although dogs were not traditionally used, rabbit dogs are used to chase rabbits in the direction of waiting hunters ready and willing to fling out rabbitsticks in order to harvest the game. The skill and strategy involved illustrate the traditional ways and our expert guides will show and explain how to be successful even if a rabbit finds a hole to hide in.

Although the success rate of harvesting rabbits has been minimal at our Choctaw Rabbitstick Hunts, the point of the event is to introduce the sport to newcomers and revive the tradition in others. The fellowship and fun that accompanies this event is probably the largest success gained from bringing our tribal youth and members together. The event ends with lunch, door prizes, and everyone talking about their experiences while sharing laughs and successes. So, if you haven't yet experienced one of our rabbitstick hunts, haven't been to one in a while, or come every year, come out February 25, 2012 in Attala County and enjoy a day of fun in the traditional way of rabbitstick hunting!

- M. Reed, Tribal Biologist