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Who harvests wild rabbits?

 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Lots in this forum about raising rabbits but little about harvesting wild rabbits. I know there are advantages to meat rabbits - size, growth rates, docile natures etc... But a lot of that seems less relevant if they are just living in their own burrows until the day you catch and kill them.

If they are smaller than your meat rabbits, then simply cull an extra one for your dinner.

Most farms around here either have a rabbit problem, or a rabbit control problem - i imagine many farmers would be very happy for people to harvest from their fields ( i have pemission from four different landowners to hunt with my air rifle).

Methods
Air rifle - time consuming, takes skill to stalk into range, not reliable if you need meat for the table

.22 rifle - more powerful so much better accurate range, needs a license to own, effective at controlling population but time consuming - using night vision is expensive but can yield 100 plus bunnies per night

Snares - you can set 20 along fence lines in an hour and come back next morning for your harvest. Fairly relable if you are skilled. I have qualms about the stress on the bunnies and possibilities of catching someones pet catch

Drop boxes - these are my favourite method. Installed in a rabbit proof fence, rabbits pass through a tunnel and drop through into the trap. They wait calmly in the dark until you come and harvest in the morning. Depending on your purposes they provide either highly effective control or a reliable supply of rabbits for the table. When our neighbours plant their grape vines I'll be asking them to put some of these in along their fence line - free rabbits for ever!

Issues

Ok, so the bunnies are smaller, but there is vastly less work involved in raising them.

Pelts will not be valuable - probably fit for the compost heap only.

Processing - you will need to process twice as many rabbits for the same amount of meat, bit of a time drain there although if you are prepared and practiced you can get quick.

So overall wild bunnies look to be a winner, yet any people are raising the meat breeds, so what am i missing?

Mike
 
Tyler Smith
Posts: 6
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The first thing you need to know is that wild rabbits, especially cottontail rabbits can have a serious disease that is communicable to humans. Gloves should be worn when handling raw meat, and caution should be exercised.

I prefer the clean meat of the .22 rimfire, but daytime shotgun hunts are doable too. Rabbits love brambles - roses and blackberries - so wear tough overalls and buy a small .410 or 28 ga shotgun. If you're an absolutely astounding shot, try the .22.

The key is to advance toward where you think rabbits may be, guns at the ready, and then stop suddenly every 10 paces or so. Any nearby rabbits freak out when you stop, thinking they've been discovered, and run for it. That's when you blast the little shit. You'll be shootung through brush, so use like #4 shot.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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What disease are you talking about Tyler - i'm not aware of anything here in the UK. As a general rule though, if an animal looks sick it doesn't go for the pot.
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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In North America wild rabbits are actually hares . They have a different dental structure than true rabbits and their babies are born with fur. There is nothing more enjoyable than hunting hares with a beagle . Find one that follows a hot trail but slow enough to avoid getting shot . Shot gun is best. Make sure they will respond when you call the dog back unless you have all day . You need to follow local hunting seasons and rules . Kentucky does not allow trapping of hares . You cannot dig up their burrows , use nets , or hunt between dusk and dawn . Shot guns or .22's . There is a daily bag limit . There is no season limit so you could fill a freezer. I can hunt on my own property without a license but still have to follow season and bag limits.The season is long , like Sept . - Jan. but is on hold during Deer gun season . That's so us Elmers don't get shot. If I hunt on any other property I need a license. Youhave to wear hunter orange . I do not raise beagles myself but hunt with a few friends that do . Most of them kennel their dogs and only let them out during hunting . Typical Americans they do not exercise their dogs or themselves . They say you can only let the dogs out to hunt or they will become pets. Not true , if you exercise your beagle regularly - out in the field chasing bunnies - they will make great pets for your kids and still be in shape for season. They know when it's time to go chase bunnies .
 
chip sanft
Posts: 330
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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Michael Cox wrote:What disease are you talking about Tyler - i'm not aware of anything here in the UK. As a general rule though, if an animal looks sick it doesn't go for the pot.


He's talking about "rabbit fever," aka tularemia: tularemia. If you don't have it in the UK, you're lucky.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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It appears we don't have it in the uk - or if it is it is extreemly rare.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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I haven't heard of that one in the UK, but I'm no expert. Around here lots of farmers shoot rabbits, either with a 22 or an air rifle if they want to eat them, or a shotgun if they just want to remove them for pest control reasons - most people shooting them to deal with the pest aspect do eat them though. Snares are illegal in the UK to the best of my knowledge, and most people feel they are inhumane so prefer not to use them anyway.I like eating rabbit but have no desire to get involved with raising them. At the moment we are not plagued with them, though neighbours are. They've eaten some of our hops and nibbled the fruit trees though so my partner is getting an air rifle and planning to go nighttime shooting with a lamp.
 
Brian Mallak
Posts: 16
Location: Central NY
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I have seen signs (scat) of rabbits all over my property in the fall, when the foliage is brown, leaves fallen. Easier to see, especially near water sources. In the winter I have seen both cottontail and hare tracks.
However, since spring I have seen only one rabbit. And he was huge! Thought it was a large fat cat at first.
If I had the time, I would get out there and hunt using the .22LR, or even the 12ga.
But who has time!
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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S Carreg wrote:I haven't heard of that one in the UK, but I'm no expert. Around here lots of farmers shoot rabbits, either with a 22 or an air rifle if they want to eat them, or a shotgun if they just want to remove them for pest control reasons - most people shooting them to deal with the pest aspect do eat them though. Snares are illegal in the UK to the best of my knowledge, and most people feel they are inhumane so prefer not to use them anyway.I like eating rabbit but have no desire to get involved with raising them. At the moment we are not plagued with them, though neighbours are. They've eaten some of our hops and nibbled the fruit trees though so my partner is getting an air rifle and planning to go nighttime shooting with a lamp.


Snares are not illegal, but they are strictly controlled - wiremust be nine strands of a certain gauge, free running on a slip ring. Basically they are non-lethal and should not injure (thin wire cuts, multistrand does not). I have personally never used them.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Ah ok I didn't know that. We were considering snares, but have now gotten a cat so not a clever idea.
 
Tyler Smith
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Looks like someone replied, but yes, the answer is Tularemia [after Tulare County].

I would still check with local fish and game and ask about safe handling procedures. Better safe than sorry!
 
Denis Huel
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Wild meat, rabbits or other, harvested humanely, locally and efficiently makes a lot of sense.
 
Alex Hamond
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Here they are taken in several ways. Opportunistic shots with a rifle or shotgun, using rabbit dogs to sniff and flush them out, and rabbit boxes.

Rabbit boxes are fairly simple and effective wood traps. Wood that has been weathered a bit is preferred. You probably won't have this problem but if a opossum ever gets in one a rabbit won't ever go back in it.

A good line of rabbit boxes in an area full of rabbits would probably provide a lot of them. Its a lot like the drop box idea in that once they are in there they go in there and the door shuts behind them. Less stressful than a snare.

When rabbit season comes around, we are going to trap or shoot some of the rabbits around here when the season rolls around. We have a 3 month season for hunting them here, so more of a seasonal thing unless where you live is year round.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Alex - where are you in the world? I'm surprised that you have a closed season on them. Here in the UK they breed all year round.
 
chip sanft
Posts: 330
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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Michael Cox wrote:Alex - where are you in the world? I'm surprised that you have a closed season on them. Here in the UK they breed all year round.


Laws vary state to state but in Minnesota, for example, rabbit is classed as small game and there's a defined hunting season. However, you can take them out of season if they're doing damage -- i.e., eating the garden. I'd expect much of the US is similar.
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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I believe rabbit fur can be spun in to a high quality yarn for making clothes...

As far as diseases go, I assume you check the internal organs while cleaning the rabbit for signs of disease, same as the coat.

I've eaten both domestic and wild rabbit and I must say, the wild one is definitely tastier.

As far as harvesting, I think a .22 is best personally as you are more likely to make a clean kill with is as opposed to an air rifle. That said, if you're a good shot and you can get close to them then there's nothing wrong with an air rifle.

I've snared a few but I stopped as it seems like a rather unpleasant way to go. I'd use it in a survival situation though.
 
Alex Hamond
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The state of Georgia, we are allowed 12 rabbits per day from November 17 to February 28.

We do have a few year round animals we can hunt but they tend to be invasive species like coyote and feral pigs. Feral pigs are a huge problem in some areas here. All of the other native game is regulated. We do not have a very long rabbit season, but we are permitted to take 12 whitetail deer and 2 black bear a season. It kind of sucks that rabbit season here is so short, but for the hunter there is game for just about every time of year. Summer is short on game animals, but wild hogs are a year round nuisance we can shoot take meat.
 
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