Your Guide to Rabbit Hunting
In some states, rabbits are so common that there may not even be a hunting season, but rabbit hunting is a very popular sport, and here at Copper Ridge Outdoors, we want to help every hunter be prepared. Whether you prefer small game hunting to big or you're looking to diversify your options once other hunting seasons have closed, then rabbit may be just the prey for you. Keep reading to learn more, and find outdoor hunting gear you can trust at Copper Ridge Outdoors
Why Rabbit Hunting?
Plenty of hunters focus on big game, but we believe you're missing out if you
haven't tried your hand at hunting rabbit. There are more than a few reasons why rabbits are one of the most popular targets of small game hunting. For one, with the right planning and skills, you can make practically every hunt a success. You've got a good chance of putting dinner on the table, and rabbit is a delicious, mild-flavored, and versatile meat that you can prepare a dozen ways.
Another advantage of rabbit hunting is that it's an accessible and straightforward sport. It doesn't require as much expensive gear as big game hunting, and it's a great option for introducing kids or newcomers to hunting. There are many ways to approach rabbit hunting, which we'll discuss later, and there are a lot of places to find rabbits, which means you likely have the chance to go hunting close by — practically in your own backyard!
What You Need
With enough skill and practice, there is a wide variety of weapons you can use for rabbit hunting, including a pistol, a small rifle, or a bow and arrow. However, a light shotgun is the most common choice for the overgrown, close quarters you'll be working in. Many rabbit hunters default to a shotgun with an improved cylinder choke. A shotgun produces a wide column of small shot to increase your chances of hitting a small, fast-moving target. Copper Ridge Outdoors can help you hone your speed and your aim with a wide variety of steel plate shooting targets.
A Sharp Knife
You'll want to field dress your rabbit as soon as possible, so make sure you carry a sharp, effective knife. We also recommend having disposable rubber gloves for this step to protect you from contamination and possible diseases.
Protective clothing is a must for rabbit hunting. Because a lot of rabbit hunting takes place in cold weather, you'll likely already be planning on long sleeves and long pants, but when it comes to the tough cover rabbits hide in, ordinary jeans may not always be enough. Look for thicker, tougher materials that can stand up to the briars you'll likely be wading through. Don't forget to invest in some blaze orange clothing! You'll want to be especially visible as you work in dense vegetation to flush out your prey.
When to Hunt
When choosing your next shot at hunting rabbit, your first step should always be checking local and state regulations. Different regions have different rules about if and when you can hunt rabbit. In many places across the U.S., you're welcome to hunt targets like cottontail from fall through winter. In fact, cold weather is a great opportunity for rabbit hunting, because their fur isn't very insulating. They need to take shelter to stay warm as well as stay hidden from predators, which can make them easier to find. The cold also makes them less likely to bolt wildly from their hiding place once you flush them out, encouraging them to stay close and easier to track
Where to Hunt
Rabbits are found all across the U.S., which means you'll likely be able to hunt for rabbits in your region wherever you are. You may have the option of hunting
in nearby public land managed by the U.S. Department of Interior, the state, or local government. You can also ask property owners to hunt on their private land. When it comes to rabbits, many farmers will happily let you hunt on their land to thin the population and reduce the potential of crop damage. Working with farmers comes with an additional advantage of knowledge — those landowners will likely already know where you should start looking for your quarry, so your reconnaissance is partially done for you. When hunting on private land, remember to ask permission every time and follow whatever rules the land owner has established.
When you find an area where you are allowed to hunt, your next step is finding your prey's hiding places. Rabbits favor areas near their favorite foods – grasses, clovers, wheat, alfalfa, and soybeans, for example – with plenty of ground cover. If there's an area you're likely to avoid because of its thick vegetation, such as areas with briars, blackberry patches, and thick grass and weeds, then that's a promising place to look for hiding rabbits. Small fields near wooded areas, drainages with vegetation growth, and overgrown areas near old buildings or abandoned equipment are prime places to start. You can also do some research by driving slowly down rural roads near sunrise or sunset when rabbits are most active.
How to Hunt
As we mentioned, there are a few ways to approach rabbit hunting. We've included our top recommendations and tips to help you find success! The important thing to remember about rabbits is that they are a nervous, flighty prey species. With a few tactics, you can flush them out of hiding --- the trick is getting them in your sights when they're on the run!
Work With Dogs
Rabbit hunting is a great opportunity to work with dogs. They can flush out your prey for you from dense cover. In the case of vocal breeds like beagles, you can also track the location of your rabbit based on their baying. It's an experience we recommend at least once, because there's nothing quite like it! Just remember to be extra cautious when firing. Snap shooting is challenging as it is, and you don’t want to make a mistake that endangers your furry best friend.
One way to take advantage of a rabbit's tendency to run is through "walking up." Approach an area you've targeted slowly, and stop every few steps and wait for about 10 seconds before moving on. For whatever reason, this pause often triggers rabbits to dash out of their hiding places. Those that do resist the urge often succumb once you draw even with their hiding place. It's important not to rush when stalking your prey, but you want to move quickly once the rabbit has made a run for it. If you lose sight of it, don't forget to check over your shoulder --- rabbits tend to circle around and stay as close to their original hiding place as they can. Your prey may be behind you!
Practice Snap Shooting
When hunting rabbit, you won't often have the chance to wait and line up a shot like you can with big game. You'll need to rely on snap shooting --- locating the rabbit, shouldering your weapon, and shooting. This happens all in one motion, as quickly as possible. With shooting targets from Copper Ridge Outdoors, you can create your own shooting range to practice, and our collection includes a wide range of shapes and set ups so you can choose what works best for you. When you're in the field, the important thing is to stay ready. You don't want to relax too much by cradling your weapon on resting it on your shoulder, because you may miss the perfect opportunity to bring home dinner.
Plan Your Next Hunt Today
When you're looking for a new opportunity to test your skills or a new target once deer season is over, why not try rabbit hunting? It's a unique challenge that comes with a delicious reward if done right. At Copper Ridge Outdoors, we're passionate about any chance to get outside, which is why we have created a collection of high-quality outdoor hunting gear. From hunting targets to tree stands to ATV gear, you can find something to make your next trip better here on our site. Explore to learn more about the high standards we hold all of our products to, and place your order today to get started!