The United States covers a wide variety of terrain, climate, and plant and
animal life. As one traverses the country, there is one type of critters that
you will see from border-to-border -- besides the cockroach and coyote -- and
that is the good old rabbit.
Rabbit meat is one of the healthiest meats a person can eat as it is high in
protein and virtually fat free. There was an old saying in the West that a man
could starve to death eating rabbits, because of the lack of fat.
We are blessed with two main types of rabbits, the cottontail and the
jackrabbit. The cottontail covers most of the country, from border-to-border, and
has been one of the most popular small game animals since man invaded the land.
This prolific breeder has not only kept human hunters supplied with meat, but
also the fox, bobcat, coyote, and various members of the hawk family.
When it comes to hunting rabbits, most hunters walk through the woods or fields, and search out any place where a rabbit can find a hiding place. A
beagle is a real asset to a rabbit hunter as they hunt by scent and therefore will
not pass up a rabbit that may be hiding that the hunter might walk by without
If you are a hunter who likes a challenge, try hunting them with a .22 rimfire rifle. You will
probably find that your shots are limited to the times when the rabbits you
encounter are sitting. They will sit and let a person come relatively close if
they think you do not see them. If they are not too startled, they will hop off a few
yards and then stop to see where you are, and if you really present a threat. At
either of these times a person with a .22 can get a quality shot.
Handguns More Challenging
If you think you are really a good shot, you might try hunting these gray
streaks with a handgun. Most handgunners will use either a .22 Long Rifle or
.38 Special. If you use a .38, use medium-power loads. Cast bullets, such as
either wad cutter or semi-wad cutter, are a good choice.
The jackrabbit is mainlyy found in the Western U.S. These are true
hares and grow to a weight of about five pounds and about 20 inches long. A
young healthy jackrabbit can make a nice meal like a cottontail.
Unlike a cottontail, however, the jackrabbit relies on his speed, zigzagging pattern,
and high leaps to get away from his enemies. He can outrun a dog, bobcat or
coyote. About the only dog that can catch a jackrabbit is a greyhound or other
breeds that were bred for hunting wolves.
Shotguns: Quick Shots Needed
To hunt jackrabbits, you need a little more "reach" than for cottontails. A
jackrabbit will take off and run for 125- to 175 yards before stopping to see
if there is still danger. A .22 long rifle will not get out there with
consistent accuracy. The .22 WRM will, but that may be stretching its
capabilities. There are some better calibers including the .22 Hornet, .223, or
.243. These will reach out to where the rabbits are, and an accurate 200-yard
shot is not unusual.
If you want to use a shotgun, you will have to be quick and get your shot
off just as they jump because they will soon be out of range. Also, a Hornady
.17 rimfire tends to tear them up.
If you like good tablefare, like to get out in nature, and also want to get
in some shooting between hunting seasons, try rabbit hunting. Beside the
possibility of putting good meat on the table, hunting rabbits can be a
humbling experience for those of us who feel we can't miss a shot.
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