By Pat Carrothers
Learning how to hunt rabbits takes practice and patience, and for many, the fun of the hunt can be more relaxing than hunting larger game. Many hunters master their skills through trial and error, and over time, they can bag a rabbit every time they go out. If you’re a beginner, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have much luck busting the rabbits and or actually hitting the rabbits you shoot at. Rabbits are fast and always on the lookout for prey, so shooting them is not easy. Here are 10 tips to help you have a great day rabbit hunting.
1. Choose the Right Gear
You can’t be successful on hunting day if you don’t have the right gear. Most rabbit hunters carry either a .22 rifle or a 20-gauge shotgun with improved cylinder choke. However, some also prefer pistols. I personally have never tried a pistol for rabbits. That would be some fancy shooting. Shotshells, size 6 and 7-1/2, are ideal. You’ll also want to wear thick field pants and a coat to fend off any burs and prickly branches, as well as an orange hunting vest and hat. Also, carry a game bag to take home your kill.
2. Know Where They Hide
Consider taking a sunrise or sunset scouting trip to scope out where rabbits are active. They come out most often during these parts of the day. Mark it on a map. Know that they’ll hide in brush piles and spend time in farmer’s fields, especially wherever clover and alfalfa grow. Rabbits also spend a lot of time near fence lines.
3. Request Permission to Hunt
Trespassing is a sure way to ruin your hunting day. Beforehand, ask permission to hunt if it’s private land. More often than not, farmers are more than happy to give you permission and will also point out the favorite hiding places.
4. Check the Forecast
If it’s cold, it may be easier to spot rabbits that are hiding, and they may also flush slower, giving you a better chance at a kill-shot. Hunting after a snowfall has stopped is a good time. Also consider hunting on the first warm day after a cold spell when they come out to take in some sun. A covering of snow helps you find rabbit tracks, and it also makes it easier to see the rabbit’s eyes as it’s hiding in brush. Sometimes that’s the only thing you can see since they blend in so completely. When I was a kid, my dad would stop and point to a spot for me to examine. After a while I could see the eye of a rabbit there. If you are hunting alone for rabbits, that’s about the only way you will find them because they are masters at slipping away unnoticed.
5. Take a Partner
Unless you have your heart set on a quiet day of hunting alone, take a partner who knows how to hunt rabbits, to help flush them out. Walk in staggered succession, taking turns to pause. Walk opposite sides of a hedgerow or fencerow with the shooter about 10 yards back from the flusher. Be aware that rabbits are always going to take the back door if it’s open. So leave it open and be ready for them to run on the opposite side of the flusher. However, make sure to follow all gun safety rules and always be aware of your buddy’s location, or don’t shoot.
6. Take Hunting Dogs
Hunting dogs can be a great help when hunting rabbits, but only if they are well-trained. They should know how to flush the rabbits out of hiding as well as toward you whenever possible. They should also know the “release” command so they don’t tear up your kill. However, hunting dogs aren’t mandatory for a successful hunt. You can learn to hunt rabbits without them and find the experience rewarding.
7. Position Yourself
Stay downwind from where you think they are whenever possible, and be ready to move your aim along the fence line or wherever you think they may run.
8. Be Ready for A Shot
Rabbits are fast. Keep your firearm in ready position with your index finger on the trigger guard. Swing gun across the body and just beyond the head as you gently squeeze the trigger.
9. Be Patient
Rabbits often stop and look back to see if you are out of distance, making it a great time to shoot. Alternatively, whistle shrilly or use a clicking device to make the rabbit stop and listen. Also, know that rabbits often circle back, so you can take a set up and sit as still as possible and wait.
Rabbits are a lean, healthy meat that cook up quickly. A great rabbit recipe will make your day a complete success.
Please share with us your favorite rabbit recipe.
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