Rabbit hunting is a good skill to have if you’re in an emergency situation where food is scarce, if you’re in the wilderness for an extended period of time, or if you’re a generally mean person that likes to kill cute, furry animals (hey, I don’t judge).
Today we are going to talk about the various methods of rabbit hunting.
As an alternative, if you really like the taste of rabbit meat or enjoy keeping rabbits as pets, you may consider raising rabbits for food at home.
A HISTORY OF RABBIT HUNTING AND TRAPPING
Rabbits are a decent source of meat and protein, and have been hunted by humans pretty much whenever possible. During the dark ages, birds such as hawks and falcons were used to catch them. Sometimes an albino ferret was used to chase the rabbit, making them both easier for the bird to spot (clever).
Primitive methods of trapping were invented as well, such as using metal jaw-type foot-hold traps, and net-style, purse string traps.
In modern times, we have become more effective at catching rabbits. Below are some of the most common methods used today to catch those hoppity critters.
There are two main branches of rabbit hunting- those done with dogs (often beagles), and those done without.
Hunting Rabbits with Beagles
Hunting rabbits with beagles (“beagling”, as it is commonly known) involves using a beagle, or pack of beagles, to find the rabbits, and chase them into a desired situation (desired for the hunter, of course). Beagles have a sharp sense of smell, and are quite adept at tracking and chasing out rabbits and hares.
Once out in the open, the hunter can then kill the rabbit using a firearm or crossbow, or capture them using some sort of net (often a long net).
Hunting Rabbits without Dogs
When dogs aren’t used, a rabbit hunt usually entails a hunter (or a few) walking through an area that rabbits frequent. The idea is to track the place where a rabbit may be hiding under cover. This is easier in the winter, when rabbit tracks are much easier to see, but a skilled tracker can do pretty well in the summer months as well.
Once a suspected cover is found, a hunter stomps the area to scare the rabbits out. Once in the open, the hunter attempts to kill the rabbit with a short-range weapon such as a firearm (often an air rifle), or even a bow. This method requires some skill, both in tracking rabbits and in using a weapon, and as such can be less effective (see picture above).
Ferrets are sometimes used to enter in a rabbit burrow and chase them out. Be sure to use a female ferret though, as a male is more likely to eat the rabbit himself and then fall asleep in the burrow (yes, I’m serious).
There are many methods used today to trap rabbits.
Sometimes long nets are set up around a suspected burrowing area, and animals such as ferrets or dogs are used to chase the rabbits into the nets. Drawstring nets, still an effective and humane way to catch rabbits, are common as well.
Two very common traps used today are live catch traps and snares.
Live catch traps are essentially cages with an open end and bait inside. When a rabbit enters the cage to eat the bait, it sets off a trigger that closes the door, trapping the rabbit. The hunter can later return to retrieve the cage with rabbit inside.
Snare traps and wire nooses set up along trails rabbits frequent. A rabbit will be shooting along, when his head gets caught in the noose. Sensing it is a predator, its instincts will be to keep running forward, trying to escape. The rabbit will inevitably strangle itself, to be retrieved later.
KILLING AND PREPARING A RABBIT FOR COOKING
Really?! I thought we were cool.
A rabbit may be killed with a blow to the back of its neck, either with a blunt object or with your hand. They can also be killed by grabbing the neck on opposite sides with your thumb and forefinger, and making a sharp whipping motion to break its neck.
Put on rubber gloves to avoid contracting diseases such as tularemia. Using a sharp knife, skin and gut the rabbit. Remove its head at the neck, its forelegs at the shoulders, and its hind legs at the hips. Separate the rib section.
Proceed to cook the rabbit however you see fit.