Once considered a species hunted mostly by poor families for a quick and easy meal, or as the primary reason a group of family members or friends would get together to hunt, today there’s another reason many hunters pursue rabbits. Rabbits are destructive to the small trees and young plants of many landowners and farmers, and in the right habitat, rabbits are plentiful and can possibly reach pest status. Plus, rabbits are tasty when prepared properly. Plentiful and a good meal after the hunt means you should consider placing a rabbit in your sights!
The first place to begin your hunt for rabbits could be nearly any farm with an orchard, or a commercial nursery with trees and shrubs for sale. The base of a tree that has been gnawed by rabbits is easily noted with the exposed white or yellow inner tree pulp. That gnawed area can girdle and kill young trees or make them far less valuable because of the rabbit-inflicted scars. Also, any place with cleared land, and the resulting stump and brush piles, will probably harbor a huge number of rabbits. Large briar patches and overgrown fields will also be potential rabbit homelands where you can begin the hunt.
Once you find rabbit hunting turf and get permission to hunt there, be afield at dawn and dusk to look for those pronounced long ears, brown oval body shapes, or the shiny black eye that can reveal a hidden rabbit. Following rabbit tracks in fresh snow can help you determine local rabbit populations and possibly where they are hiding or feeding.
After you’ve found the rabbits, you can use a shotgun or .22 rifle to topple the rabbit. Small dogs such as beagles are also fond of running rabbits, so enlist their help when possible. While you can hunt these lagamorphs (rabbits are not rodents) alone, it helps to hunt in pairs or large groups of hunters. If the snows are deep, consider using snowshoes to move around.