Throughout the spring, because I don’t want to spend the money to hunt pig on private ranches, I suffer from hunting withdrawal. So by the time July 1 rolls around, I’m ready to hunt anything. Just give me a field, a shotgun, and something to chase! The answer is rabbit. On July 1 the brush cottontail season opened, and this coming weekend I’ll be in my favorite canyon, flushing brushies and jacks.
These little creatures are surprisingly fun to hunt. They run fast, break without warning, and turn out great in a stewpot. We typically hunt with number 6 shot, but I tried number 4 last time out and found it very satisfactory, with better knockdown for the sturdy jackrabbits and a sure, clean kill on the cottons. You are likely to find the jacks in grassy areas, where they will run fast and erratically, relying on their speed to reach cover before you can take them down. Flush the cottons from brush, like sparse chaparral, on the slopes. They will break fast and run for cover. The window of opportunity for a shot is small, and you’ll have to swing the shotgun quickly.
The jacks, which are considerably larger than cottontails, produce a dark, beefy looking meat that you’ll want to debone and dice for stews or pot pies. Don’t forget the backstrap when butchering them. Cottontails are smaller, produce an almost white meat, and the only real worthwhile meat is found on the hind legs. Cook the legs whole on the bone. My favorite is chicken fried. For another very tasty idea, go to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook for this very nice Greek Rabbit Stew.
So enjoy some fast paced, fun, early hunting in the rabbit season, and put some different game on your table this summer.