As a survivalist one of the most important items to consider if society breaks down is where to get food. If you live near the coast, sea, river or lake there will always be fish.
But for those of you who live inland, well wild rabbits can be a great source of food. The trick is, what are the best rabbit hunting tips and tricks?
There are many options to hunt wild rabbits and hares. Some popular choices are:
- Traps and Snares
- Bow Hunting
- Ferrets and nets.
In this article, I will go over the equipment I use to shoot rabbits on a property that is being overrun by wild rabbits. Rabbits are a pest, as they dig burrows that can injure livestock such as horses, and cows. This is because their legs get caught in deep burrows.
Not to mention the damage they can do to crops and vegetation. If left alone they can quickly take over a farm.
Rabbit Shooting Equipment
My go-to weapon of choice is a Tikka .22 T1X MTR 20-inch rifle with a 3-9×40 Crossfire 2 scope. This is a lightweight rimfire rifle that packs a lot of punch out to over 130 yards. I like to stick with the CCI standard velocity .22 rounds (1070 FPS) unless I am close to livestock.
High velocity .22 rounds are good for small game that are out at further distances like 150 yards+. But you must re-zero in your scope from standard velocity rounds as the bullet trajectory is different.
Subsonic ammunition is good to keep the noise down and not to spook the rabbits too much, but your range will suffer slightly. Just be sure to zero in your scope first again. The black-tailed Jackrabbits in the desert areas are very skittish so I have to hang back out of sight so quieter rounds are sometimes better.
I have a sling stud mounted bipod attached to the front of the Tikka rifle as I like to shoot in the prone position so I can stay hidden. Plus most of the time I find myself just chilling out waiting for a rabbit to appear.
Camouflage head to foot covering is a must to blend into your surroundings. The camo face and neck masks work great to hide the top part of your body.
Accurately being able to detect the distance to your target is the job of a good laser range finder. I have the TecTecTec ProWild Range Finder which has a whole heap of features such as:
- Max Range 500 Yards
- Continuous Scan Mode
- Speed Mode
- 6x Magnification
- Through the lens display
- Carry case and Lanyard
Rifle Options for Hunting Rabbits
The .22LR rifle is one of the best selling firearms in the world. Just about every gun manufacturer makes one. They can come in a range of options such as Bolt action, Semi-auto, Full Auto, Leaver action and other variations. Let’s not get into barrel length as there are so many variations.
I do like the bolt action as there are less moving parts and I believe they are more accurate than fully or semi-auto firearms.
The .22 rimfire ammunition is cheap and is readily available in different configurations such as:
- Hollow Point.
- Round Nose.
- High Velocity.
- Match Grade.
- Standard Velocity.
- Hyper Velocity
But a .22 rifle is not your only option. Many people are using air rifles to shoot rabbits at up to 60 yards. There is less noise and they can be used with close neighbors and livestock. (If the law allows in your country)
I grew up with an air rifle of .177 caliber and it taught me some great skills in controlling my breathing and zeroing in scopes. They are fun to shoot.
Check out this video of rabbit hunting using an air-rifle by Devon Airgunner
.17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR)
For long-range rabbit hunting, a .17 HMR would be the rifle of choice. The maximum range for the .17 HMR ammunition you be around 150-200 yards. After this distance, your accuracy will start to drop off. The side effect is the .17 is a lot louder than a .22LR rifle due to the extreme projectile speeds 2,550 fps for CCI V-Max. The ammunition is also slightly more expensive.
At the end of the day, it will come down to a budget. Try and stick with quality gear. You don’t have to go high end but as the old saying goes by cheap buy twice. Some of the cheap scopes on places like eBay are just rubbish.
Best Time to Hunt Rabbits
The best time to hunt rabbits is early in the morning and late in the afternoon just before nightfall. They will be out looking for food.
Rabbits tend to live in areas that have good coverage. Lots of shrubs, bushes and thick hedges make excellent hiding spots for rabbits.
It is best to get into position and wait for the rabbits to appear. I sometimes like to lure them out by placing some carrots, cabbage, and wheat in an area where there are obvious burrows.
Once the wild rabbits are feeding they will make an easy target for your .22LR rifle. If they are on the move I like to make a little noise like a quick whistle while I have them in the gun sight. This will cause the rabbit to stop moving and stand up to look around. Take the shot.
Often you can find fresh rabbit droppings in an active area. This is a great hunting tip that rabbits are around. Rabbits tend to drop their fecal pellets in the same area all the time. So if you find a big pile of rabbit droppings you are close to their burrows.
Rabbit shot Placement
Whenever shooting animals for food or vermin control it is important to do it humanely.
The two spots that will kill a rabbit instantly are a headshot and a heart shot. The rabbit’s brain is located between the eye and the ear. Whereas the heart is located just above the front legs.
The head is a lot smaller target than the body so make sure to practice at various distances at a gun range to improve your skill. This is where a range finder comes in handy to judge distances for your scope settings.
Using hollow point rounds will also cause more damage if you are slightly off with your projectile. The hollow points tend to mushroom out whereas round nose bullets may exit cleanly.
I like to zero in my 3-9×40 Crosfire 2 scope at 50 yards. This gives me a good starting point for accurate shots at those smaller rabbits. This Vortex scope is a Dead-Hold BDC reticle with a long eye relief which makes it very good for hunting.
The art of calling rabbits up from their burrows into view is a skill that takes a lot of practice. One of my mates can whistle or screech like a rabbit, which makes them pop their heads out of the burrows sometimes.
The easiest way to call rabbits is to use a block of styrofoam and a piece of tile or glass. Make the glass wet and stroke the styrofoam over the glass in quick strokes. A mobile phone works well for this.
If you don’t want to take these items out with you on the hunting trip then just record the sound at home and play it back on your smartphone. Or you can just download this free android Rabbit calls app to do all the hard work.
Just be aware that a side effect of using rabbit squeaking noises is sometimes attracting foxes into the area especially at night. I have had a fox sneak up around the side of me to see what all the noise was.
If you are out and you can’t find any rabbits try calling them out. This is a great rabbit hunting tip that many people don’t know about.
Interesting Rabbit Facts
In many countries of the world, wild rabbits are in abundance. They can bread many times over a year. In fact, the gestation period which is the time between breeding and kindling is only 31 days. With an average wild rabbit producing several litters per year and up to 14 in a litter, you can see why their population can quickly explode.
In North America there are 15 breeds of rabbits:
- Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis)
- Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus)
- Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus)
- Arctic Hare (Lepus arcticus)
- Alaskan Hare (Lepus othus)
- White-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii)
- Antelope Jackrabbit (Lepus alleni)
- Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii)
- Swamp Rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus)
- Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani)
- Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)
- Mountain Cottontail (Sylvilagus nuttallii)
- Appalachian Cottontail (Sylvilagus obscurus)
- Marsh Rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris)
- New England Cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis)
Hunting rabbits for food or vermin control can be a very rewarding experience. Just make sure to shoot within your limits. Practice makes perfect and you will have well-placed shots that hit their mark every time.
If you take the time out to zero in your scope and mount it correctly with lapping the scope rings you will have a very accurate weapon.
Be sure to know the capabilities of your gun and go to the practice range often. You can then make fine adjustments using a hunting range finder in the field. This way you will become an expert marksman and learn all about bullet drop at different distances.
Rimfire .22 rifles are cheap (unless you live in Australia) and are a great survival weapon for preppers. The ammunition is available everywhere for only a few dollars for a box or 50 rounds.
As always remember to practice gun safety, and feel free to leave me a comment on your tips of hunting or trapping rabbits.