The most commonly hunted rabbit is the cottontail. These small game animals are typically brown with white bellies, and average between two and six pounds depending on the subspecies. Each subspecies has a slightly different diet that is specific to its local habitat, but are all herbivores that feed on various berries, roots, and other plants that occupy the thickets they call home. All species breed rapidly and are able to have up to five litters that produce up to nine offspring annually. This quick breeding cycle frequently results in dense populations that allow for quality hunting.
Where To Hunt Rabbit
Rabbits are hunted all over the world and have been since the beginning of time. Because of their widespread nature and short breeding cycle, good hunting can be found nearly anywhere there is good habitat. Typically, areas of dense cover that provide protection from predators will hold good numbers of rabbits. Thick cover made up of thorny or otherwise unpleasant plants offer the best protection from toothy critters, and will be hotspots of activity.
Rabbit Hunting Techniques
The most effective method of hunting rabbits utilizes dogs. Specially trained dogs, often beagles, are used to both jump and track rabbits. Rabbits have a habit of running to get some distance between them and their pursuer when they are spooked, and will often work in a large circle that eventually leads back to their original location. By posting up at his doorstep, hunters can let their dogs push the rabbit in this circle and then wait for him to return and offer a shot.
If you do not have the privilege of hunting with a dog, a similar method can be done with a hunting partner. Rabbits can simply be shot when they jump and run, or the circle technique can again be taken advantage of. With a hunting partner, you can chase the rabbit in the circle and while your partner carefully waits for the shot. This method involves slightly more exercise, but the result is the same. Another popular method of rabbit hunting is to simply walk edges of cover, kicking around the brush as you go. Scared rabbits will often jump from cover and offer a quick shot, or allow you to follow them to a new hiding place where you are more prepared.
Rabbits are typically hunted with shotguns. Opportunities are typically on fast moving animals, so a scattergun gives you a serious advantage. They are not particular tough animals, so any gauge shotgun and shot size combination you are comfortable will be adequate. However, keep in mind that shots are usually at a close range, so a more open choke that throws a wider spread is recommended for hitting these quick animals.
Rabbit Food Quality
Rabbits are known for their excellent food quality and taste very similar to chicken. In the kitchen, hunters often fry their rabbits like chicken wings, or turn them into a tasty meat gravy. However, keep in mind the outside temperature when hunting rabbits. Early season, rabbits will often be covered in disease carrying fleas that are best avoided. Luckily, the first big freeze in fall will kill these fleas and your rabbits will be totally clean. Also, be sure to check for white spots on the liver when you clean your rabbit, as this can be a sign of tularemia. If it looks like it is contaminated, discard the meat as it can make you very sick.