How to Hunt Rabbits without a Hunting Dog
Hunting rabbits has been an all-time favorite sport of mine, as with many other hunters that I know. Every hunter has his own reason for hunting the little critters. If you’re a seasoned hunter like me, then you’ll know that hunting rabbits is as fun as it is a profitable hobby.
On the other hand, if you’re an owner of a garden or a farm, then hunting rabbits is a way of controlling the pestilence that they cause. However, this article was written for beginners and in this article, you will know the most effective and efficient way on how to hunt rabbits.
Now, it is established in the hunting hobby/profession that a hunting dog will get you a long way when it comes to tracking down critters. Beagles, hounds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers; these are all the best dog breeds for hunting.
However, most of us don’t have dogs fit for hunting or simply do not want to have a canine companion. So, specifically, this article will teach you how to hunt rabbits without a hunting dog. Therefore, we’ll cross off that ‘have a hunting dog’ trick off the list right now and focus on the traditional ways.
To hunt rabbits, you’ll need:
How to Hunt Rabbits
Step One: Prepare yourself and prepare your gear
The first thing you need is a hunting license to make sure that you are hunting legally. Once you have secured your license, you will need to choose the right gear, which will depend on the hunting method you choose.
If you are going to hunt, you will need to set your pack. I recommend having ample amount of food and water in your pack, along with the necessities such as hunting knife, gloves, guns and ammo. Important: if you are hunting with a group or hunting in a known hunting location where friendly fire is a risk, wear bright orange clothing.
Step Two: Choose your hunting method
When hunting rabbits, you can either set up traps or hunt them directly. Either method will require patience and skill. However, you must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option that you have.
When trapping rabbits, you can either use a live rabbit trap or a pitfall trap, which are the most efficient and humane ways of trapping rabbits. A live rabbit trap is basically a spring loaded cage wherein you place your bait. When the rabbit enters your cage, the door will close and the rabbit will be unable to escape.
The same principle goes with pitfall traps, but in this trap, a rabbit will be lured into a tunnel with a spring loaded panel. When the rabbit arrives at this panel, it will open and drop the rabbit into a pit. The main difference between the two is: a live rabbit trap can catch one rabbit at a time while a pitfall trap can catch many.
If you want to try a more primitive trapping method, there's always a snare trap, a time tested method that also offers a challenge, and allows you to learn a valuable skill that can be used in survival situations if you just so happen to get lost in the wilderness.
You'll need 2.5 feet of wire or string, from which you will tie a slip-knot. Use a pencil or a stick to check the strength to make sure the knot doesn't pull apart under light pressure. Then thread the other end of your string through the loop to make a noose.
Next, find a sturdy stick and make a small hole at one end, which you will thread the end of your string through to secure the noose. Drive the other end of the stick into the ground as a stake. Use another smaller stick to hold the loop of your noose and straddle it about 6-8 inches off the ground, preferably over a rabbit path. A rabbit should run through it and get caught at the neck by the noose and the stronger stick will tighten the noose, thereby strangling your prey while keeping it in place for you to find when you check your trap.
Trapping using any method takes patience, but it's a worthy skill to have in your bag of tricks.
Here is a video on how to set up a 2-door live cage trap:
When using a gun to hunt rabbits, it is essential that you use a low caliber bullet (.22 for example) to entail minimum damage to the meat and fur. You can use hunting rifles or shotguns, but the efficiency of your shot will depend on your skill in aiming and shooting. That being said, choose the gun that’s best for you. Additionally, it is also recommended that you aim for the heart, lungs, or head of the rabbit to prevent the animal’s suffering, and kill them quickly and as painlessly as possible.
When driving out rabbits out of their holes, you can catch a lot of rabbits at one time, but this method requires both skill, stealth, agility, and patience. You can use a few different sub-methods to drive out your prey from their hiding spots, namely, ferreting, falconry, and long netting.
Ferreting and falconry both use other animals to hunt rabbits. Ferrets can dig into holes and drive the rabbits out of the rabbit hole and into an awaiting net. On the other hand, falconry is a much more complicated method and requires careful and patient training of the bird. When done right, your hawk can learn how to hunt for you.
Lastly, long netting is a method wherein you catch rabbits with your net. Essentially, you will be setting up a perimeter with your net near the rabbit hole, drive the rabbits out, and then quickly catch them (or shoot them).
Step Three: Decide what to do with your catch
It is important that you know the local rules on how many rabbits you can catch in one day. If you’ve caught just enough to abide by the law, decide what to do with them next.
If you’re hunting for profit or for food, you may field dress the rabbit and sell their fur and/or meat, or simply cook it right after. To do this:
- Pinch the rabbit’s back and make a small cut.
- Hook your fingers underneath the cut and pull the skin apart; one hand going towards the head and the other to the tail. Keep pulling until you have the two pieces of fur.
- Next, cut off the foot, head and tail.
- Cut the skin on the belly and remove the rabbit’s innards.
- Wash the rabbit thoroughly.
- Remove remaining skin and fatty pieces.
- Cut your rabbit for cooking. Slice off the front and hind legs, two sides of the belly, and the loin. You can use the ribs for broth.
On the other hand, if you are a farmer or gardener just wanting to prevent the rabbits from eating your plants and have used traps to catch your pests, call in wildlife control to take care of the rabbits that you’ve caught.
And there you have it! All the basic steps you need to know on hunting rabbits without the use of a hunting dog. Remember: hunting is not an easy sport. It requires the basic attributes of a hunter, which are patience, time, and skill. Always keep in mind that every hunter starts somewhere, and don’t be discouraged when you don’t catch the rabbit on the first try.
I hope you learned a lot from this tutorial. If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share, feel free to put them in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to share this article for other aspiring hunters out there. Thanks for reading and happy hunting!