About 1.5 million Americans hunt rabbits yearly. If you are among these hunters who love rabbit meat or hunting rabbits for fur or sport, you will be happy to know that most states allow rabbit hunting. Some states even allow it throughout the year. However, a successful rabbit hunt requires knowing where to hunt rabbits and how to prepare for a rabbit hunt.
Would you like to learn how to hunt rabbits with a high success rate? If so, our comprehensive guide has you covered with the best rabbit hunting tips for increasing your chances of bagging a cottontail every time you go rabbiting.
Preparing for Your Hunt
Hunting rabbits is different from hunting big game or birds. For instance, unlike rabbits, big animals are easy to spot, and they cannot duck under bushes. If you want to find rabbits in the wild, you need to know the best places and times to hunt them.
Know Where to Hunt Rabbits
Rabbit hunting 101 dictates that the best rabbit hunting grounds are places with thick brush, hollow logs, or dense woods where rabbits can quickly hide if threatened. These spots are usually close to rabbit food sources, such as clover, wildflowers, alfalfa, blackberry bushes, broadleaf weeds, and garden crops. Hunting in such areas will increase your chances of finding rabbits quickly.
Since rabbits are timid herbivores, they will hide within the closest brush, hollow log, or other hiding spots if they notice you approaching. Once you find a hiding rabbit, flush it out and take it down as it flees.
Know When to Hunt Rabbits
“Rabbit hunting season” is not the best answer to when can you hunt rabbits. If you want to increase your chances of bagging a bunny, the best time to hunt rabbits is early spring. During this period, rabbits that could not find enough food in winter are on the prowl to feed on the fresh growing vegetation.
Before and after spring, you can still hunt for rabbits, but you are most likely to spot prey in the early morning and evening. Why? Since rabbits forage at night, you can catch them returning to their burrows in the early morning. If you hunt in the evening, you can catch rabbits on their way to feeding grounds.
Lastly, on sunny cold days, you can usually find rabbits sunbathing on south and southwest facing hillsides. Alternatively, hunt rabbits during the day by using a hunting dog to sniff out rabbit burrows and scare the rabbits out into the open.
Get the Proper Gear for Your Rabbit Hunt
Our how-to rabbit hunt guide would be incomplete if it did not cover correctly equipping yourself for rabbiting. Without the right rabbit hunting equipment, you could have difficulty finding and killing prey. Even worse, you could end up injured during your hunt. Avoid such outcomes by going rabbiting with these items:
A rifle suppressor or silencer that muffles your gunshots during a hunt can be very helpful. How? First, suppressors reduce the likelihood that you’ll scare away every rabbit within a five-mile radius, giving you the chance to bag more prey. Also, a suppressor can reduce the recoil when you fire a shot.
A reduced recoil will improve your accuracy and chances of hitting your target with your first shot. If you prefer hunting with a pistol or shotgun, suppressors are available for those as well.
A Rabbit-Ready Rifle
You cannot hunt a rabbit with just any rifle. If the caliber of the rifle is too high, it will obliterate the rabbit and leave you with nothing.
According to many rabbit hunters, the best rabbit hunting gun is a 20-gauge shotgun with an improved cylinder choke. You can also use a 12- or 16-gauge shotgun. The best shot size for rabbit hunting with such weapons is No. 5 or 6 shells that will not damage the meat too much.
Alternatively, you could hunt with a .22 rifle. Unlike a shotgun, it has a longer range that will allow you to take down small prey from afar. Most states also permit rabbit hunting with a bow or crossbow if you have an archery license.
Regardless of if you choose to hunt with a pistol, rifle, or shotgun, avoid using lead ammo. Lead ammo can poison the meat, making it dangerous to eat.
Instead of searching for hiding rabbits, you can have your prey come to you with rabbit calls. You can learn how to call rabbits with your fingers and lips or use handheld rabbit calls. Blowing on a handheld rabbit call will emit a sound that gets the attention of nearby cottontails and lure them out of hiding. You can also find rabbit call apps that you can download on your mobile device.
As we mentioned earlier, the best time to hunt rabbits is early morning or late evening. If hunting in winter or spring, these hours can be chilly. For this reason, dress in thick clothing that will keep out the cold air while hunting. Wearing thick clothing is also necessary for protecting your skin when passing through thickets, tangles, and thorny bushes.
For extra protection, wear boots and heavy-duty work gloves. Lastly, wear a blaze orange safety vest so that other hunters won’t mistake you for prey in the low light conditions.
Most states require that you get a license before hunting rabbits on private or public land. You can get the necessary license by contacting the Department of Wildlife or the Department of Fish and Game of the state you want to hunt. However, in states like California, you do not need a license to hunt rabbits on your own property.
Also, verify the rabbit hunting season of your state before going hunting. Rabbit hunting without a license or outside rabbit season can lead to fines and other penalties.
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Rabbit Hunting Tips for When You’re in the Field
We asked experienced rabbit hunters to share their favorite rabbit hunting tips, and here’s what they told us:
Understand a Rabbit’s Kill Zone
The rabbit kill zone is where to shoot a rabbit to kill it quickly. If you aim outside a kill zone, your shot may only injure the rabbit, giving it a chance to escape. Aiming outside the kill zone could also lead to a messy kill that damages the meat and makes it inedible.
A rabbit has two kill zones – the head and chest. Since a rabbit is small, many hunters prefer aiming for the chest kill zone because it offers a larger target than the head kill zone.
If you are aiming for the head kill zone with a shotgun, aim towards the end of the rabbit’s nose to limit the number of pellets that enter the meat. Rifle hunters should aim behind the rabbit’s ear to increase the chances of getting a clean shot.
Call Rabbits So They Come to You
After locating a rabbit’s feeding area or burrow, lure your prey towards you with a rabbit call. The hunting tactic is effective because it helps you avoid the hassle of looking for rabbits under every rock or thicket. As we mentioned earlier, several rabbit call apps and devices are available.
Hunt against the Wind
After spotting your prey, avoid alerting it by staying downwind. When the rabbit is upwind, the wind won’t carry your scent or the sound of your approach towards the animal. If the rabbit is unaware of your presence, you can get as close as necessary to get a perfect shot.
Zig-Zag through Cover
If calling a rabbit fails, you can scare your quarry out of hiding by moving through the area in a zig-zag pattern. Moving in this manner will allow you to cover more ground and increase your chances of getting close enough to scare your prey into making a run for it. When the rabbit bursts out of cover, you will get your opportunity to shoot it.
Hone Your Accuracy and Speed
Since rabbits move fast when spooked, hitting one in the kill zone requires shooting with top speed and accuracy. If you wait too long to pull the trigger after a bunny notices your presence, the rabbit will soon disappear out of sight. However, you will miss your target if you pull the trigger without properly aiming. Avoid such issues by perfecting aiming and shooting quickly at a practice range before going rabbit hunting.
Ready, Set, Hunt
That’s everything you need to know to prepare for your next rabbit hunting adventure. All you need to do now is get your gear and head into the wild to try out our how-to rabbit hunt tips. Looking for a suppressor to make your rabbit hunt quieter? look no further, give our suppressor experts a call, and learn how the Silencer Central team makes the buying process simple! With over 10 years of experience, we will walk you through the submission process, set you up with a Free NFA gun trust, and deliver directly to your door.