The Uncomplicated Sport of Rabbit Hunting
Rabbit hunting can be as simple as a quiet walk in the woods with your favorite .22 or it can be a complete outdoor ritual with packs of beagles. There are many ways to hunt rabbits and lots of places to hunt them. Perhaps that's why rabbit hunting is so popular.
According to recent surveys, approximately 1.5 million people hunt rabbits and/or hares. Rabbit/hare hunting ranked as the fourth most popular hunting endeavor, tied with pheasant hunting and behind only whitetail deer, turkey, and squirrel. Rabbit hunting ranked more popular than waterfowl and dove hunting, as well as all other species such as elk, bear, and others.1
Where to Hunt Rabbits
The best locations for finding rabbits are areas with extremely dense cover. Gnarly tangles of briars, thorns, honeysuckle, and brush are difficult to reach for coyotes and foxes and make great locations for rabbits to hide from birds of prey.
Rabbits can also be found near dwellings, barns, and other areas with a consistent amount of human activity. Coyotes and many other predators steer clear of areas where people are constantly present, but a rabbit will hang out in brush or other thick foliage and disregard most human activity.
Methods of Rabbit Hunting
There are many different methods of rabbit hunting, depending on which is best suited to your demands and requirements.2
Ferreting is the use of polecats or ferrets to flush rabbits out of holes, normally into nets placed around the holes. It can be combined with dogs, long nets, or a shotgun.
Falconry or hawking is the use of birds of prey to hunt.
Normally used at night, the net is set between the foraging rabbits and their rabbit holes. The hunter chases the rodents into the net and nets them as they run.
The use of a .22 rifle is common, but so is the use of a shotgun. A 20-gauge shotgun with an improved-cylinder choke is one of the best choices, but almost any shotgun, regardless of gauge, action, or choke, is adequate to hunt rabbits. 6s and 7-1/2s are both good choices for cottontails.
One of the lesser used rabbit hunting tricks, snaring is the use of wire based traps to snare the rodent.
Fast, effective, and inexpensive, trapping can be done with cages, boxes, and pits.
Dogs can really boost your chances of a successfully hunt. Use them as receivers, gundogs, or trackers.
Best Times to Hunt Rabbits
Typically, the most productive days to hunt rabbits are cloudy, cold, damp days. A perfect day is one with a foggy morning or afternoon, where there is heavy mist in the air, and the woods are real, real quiet. You can sneak in the woods, moving very slowly, and keep a keen eye out. Constantly watch ahead of you for any type of movement.
Tip of the Day
When you spot a rabbit, stand still and either whistle or click your tongue. Most of the time, the rabbit will instantly stop and offer you a perfect shot!
1RealTree.com, Paul Moore, "Hunting The Modern Cottontail Rabbit." December 16, 2015