Hunting rabbits, or any other animal for that matter, is also about being humane, as much as you can. Some think it’s cruel, some think that you can still do it in a humane way, so let’s go into the details.
Can hunting be humane in any way?
Humane relates to sympathy, mercy and kindness. According to many, there’s no way to kill an animal in a kind way- a kill is still a kill. We need to point out that humanly killing your game means to do it with as little pain as you can.
How can you kill in a humane way? How can we tell when a method isn’t as painful as others? These are only few questions to think about before you go out and kill your game, no matter your game is.
Is rabbit hunting necessary?
Many say that a sport that doesn’t serve to anyone else is quite cruel. Fox hunting with hounds is the perfect example as it was done only for the pleasure.
That’s not the case with rabbit hunting as it’s quite important to animal owners, farmers and land owners as well.
If you didn’t know it by now, rabbits are seen as pests in many places around the world (Europe is just one of them). They’re able to damage fences, trees and plants, leaving holes behind them. Their damage leaves also a hole in your wallet, whether it’s for the pricey veg they ruin or the holes you need to cover.
Truth be told, the rabbit meat is very tasteful and doesn’t get the popularity it deserves. If you’re reading this, it’s clear that eating meat is no problem for you and you should try rabbit meat some time.
Can rabbit hunting be humane?
There are many methods to kill rabbit or to control them and the methods are different when it comes to cruelty level.
For instance, using a snare to trap the rabbit is less humane than using a high powered rifle. The more you know about the methods you can use for rabbit hunting, the easier is going to be for you to decide which suits your skills and principles a lot better. Nevertheless, try several ways until you find out which suits you the best.
Is rabbit hunting for control necessary nowadays?
You can find plenty of rabbit repellents that are going to keep them at bay. The repellents are made with bright lights and powerful smells, so they’re pretty effective. You may also try the anti-rabbit fencing in order to block their access to your land right from the beginning.
However, these methods aren’t 100% effective and they’re not the best solution for the large farms or lands. When rabbits can’t get to a farm (due to the repellents), they’re simply going to move on to the next one.
The rabbit repellents may work for a small garden, but they’re not going to be of much use for a big farmer. Forget about building a fence around your land- it’s a big waste of time!
How to find rabbits anyway?
In order to kill your game, you’re going to have to start with finding it. Finding rabbits isn’t as challenging as you’d think. There’s plenty of them in the grassy areas, for sure. However, finding them per se is going to require you some skills.
- Dry, green and high
One thing that rabbits really don’t like is getting wet. They love the dry ground just as much as they love the soft ground which is easy to dig in. Therefore, you’re always go to find rabbits in the trees around the edges and almost never in the middle of a field.
Mud mounds or tops of ditches, higher grounds aren’t very popular among rabbits. Don’t lose hope around lakes or rivers as rabbits may dig holes near the big volumes of water. However, they’re not going to dig in the ground around them.
- Again and again…
Rabbits do love their grass of planted crops and they’re going to travel a lot in order to get to it. They’re willing to go in the middle of the night, crossing fields or roads when they know that a plenty of green is at the end of their trip. It’s no surprise to find holes away from a cornfield.
Their constant need for food makes them really easy to found in the countryside. Find a field, follow the thick tree line or look for some blackberry bushes. Seek the damaged areas- once you found them, you’re only few steps away from killing your game.
- Hiding spots
Rabbits like a lot the wooded areas and they also know that not many animals like crawling into hawthorn trees. This is why you may end up with some scars while trying to find them.
- Find them above ground
The real challenge is to find the rabbits above ground and not their holes in the ground. You need to get up really early in the morning. Better yet, go out there as soon as it starts to get dark. Get your lamp too, of course.
You should go in a place where you know there are rabbits and be really sneaky when doing it. You shouldn’t have a natural smell and you should definitely camouflage yourself as much as you can. Move slowly and don’t make a sound.
- Look for the signs
Rabbits do leave various calling signs. A chew mark on a tree, some droppings on hard ground are great signs that help you while hunting. Check the “rabbit runs” as well. We’re talking about the path that is highly used and the grass is pressed down and even turned into a tunnel like shape.
How to judge a rabbit hole?
Identifying a rabbit hole is easy if you know a thing or two about it. Judging a rabbit hole is something that many skip, but it’s essential for knowing if there are any rabbits in your area or not. Here are the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to judging the rabbit holes:
- Check the location and angle of the hole
Rabbits have been surviving in holes for quite some time now and they master it. They’re aware that if they dig it at a step angle, it’s going to be more difficult to run in/out. On the other hand, digging the hole in the middle of some brambles is a safer for them.
A flat and lever path in the hole is known as a “bolt hole” and helps them run in and out really fast. Bolt holes are smaller than the regular ones and finding them is really tricky.
Sometimes a barrow be placed under a fence, but it’s not going serve as a bolt hole.
- Is there any loose oil on the ground?
This is pretty much common sense and loose and fresh soil means that the rabbits have been called out. Inspecting the hole very careful is going to help you know for how long the hole was dug. The amount of soil is also going to inform you about the depth of it.
- Make sure that the rabbit hole is clear
Plenty of twigs and dead leaves in the barrow mean that there is no rabbit using it at the moment. Take a look at the grass/foliage around the outside of the entrance. When it doesn’t look like it has been pressed back out/into the hole and it’s growing over, the barrow is dead for sure.
On the contrary, if the leaves look like they’ve been kicked clear, some rabbits are most definitely use it at the moment. When the overhanging foliage looks like it has been pushed at the entrance/exit, chances are the hole is used for sure.
- Final checks
You need to be 100% sure that it’s a rabbit hole. If it’s a large hole, it may belong to a badger and not to rabbits. Rabbits cannot dig squares and they almost never dig down onto tunnels (which is something that ferreters do).
Don’t forget to take a look at the whole picture. Rabbit droppings, chewed bark, tracks are all letting you know that you’re close to your game. Keeping in mind the tips is going to help you know for sure if you’re dealing with a big or small pest problem.
How to hunt rabbits?
If you’re going to rabbit hunt for extermination, the methods to use are various and many. Taking a closer look at some of the ways is going to help you which works the best for you. The more you know about a method, the easier is going to be for you to decide. Nevertheless, actually trying them may be the most conclusive way for anyone out there.
Even though this method is very efficient, fast and cheap, it’s not as popular as it should be. Pits, various forms of cages and boxes are typically used in trapping.
Let’s see what are the advantages when using trapping:
- It’s a very easy and simple way to put the rabbit infestation under control
- It’s a really cheap method. It’s even cheaper when you’re building your very own traps.
- You can use the traps for several times, no problems attached
- It’s really efficient for the small areas (gardens are great)
Any method has its downsides so let’s see which are in the case of trapping:
- You need to make sure that nobody is going to steal the traps as this happens a lot. You should have a place to hide the trap
- You’re only going to trap one rabbit at a time. It’s a bit time consuming as you’re going to have to check the traps over and over again. You also need to bait them until you’re done with all the rabbits.
- You cannot rely solely on trapping if you’re dealing with a large scale extermination. It’s helpful, but it’s not enough.
- You may have success with trapping only during the summer months when there’s plenty of food for the pests.
Budget-friendly, simple and easy to do, trapping is a solid option for the small areas or when you’re into getting a nice game stew for dinner.
In the case of ferreting, you’re going to use ferrets or polecats for flushing the rabbits out of their holes. Typically, you’re going to get them into nets installed around the holes. You may use long nets, dogs and even shotgun together with this method.
Let’s see which are the main advantages of ferreting:
- The meat isn’t going to be spoiled
- You get a very high kill area when ferreting an area
- You don’t damage your land in any way
- You do get a clean and humane kill
However, this method has its downsides too:
- This method is quite time consuming, especially if you have many holes. You also need more people for covering the holes. If there are holes on both sides of hedgerow, you’re definitely going to need two people.
- You do need ferrets in order to try ferreting. Unless you’re going to hunt miles of land or even hunt other places, you shouldn’t try keeping ferrets as it’s an important commitment. Otherwise, you’re also going to have to find/pay ferreters to solve the rabbit’s problem for you instead.
- You can only try this method from early autumn to later winter as pregnant mothers and rabbit pups aren’t going to bold
- This is no easy way to hunt rabbits. Not only do you need to be in good shape, but you also need time to practice it until you truly master it.
Ferreting is truly a highly efficient way to reduce the pest population, but it’s also not very accessible to most out there. You should ask other land owners about ferreters as it may be helpful for your efficiency.
Most farmers out there do own a shotgun, so it only makes sense that they’d use it for killing rabbits too. Efficient and fairly easy, shooting comes with its ups and downs too.
Here are the advantages of shooting:
- It’s fun and easy to do by anyone with some sort of shooting experience
- It’s really accessible to anyone owning fire arms
- You can combine shooting with other hunting methods. It works with ferrets and dogs as well.
Some things don’t work that great in the case of shooting so here are the downsides to think about:
- You need to make sure that is safe for you and everyone out there
- Owning and using firearms is taken under legal regulations so you do need to make sure you’re 100% legal
- Buying and taking care of a fire arm isn’t as cheap as you’d think
- The clean kill is not a sure thing with shooting, especially if you don’t have the experience
Taking rabbits under control is a good reason for you to use your gun for stalking, lamping or flushing. Even though shooting shouldn’t be used as a single way to eliminate the pests issue, you may still try it as an additional method to exterminate the pests.
This method for hunting rabbits is truly under rated, even though it’s quite efficient. You need to use wire based traps to snare the rabbits so it’s not as complicated as you may think.
You may use the wire loop for getting rid of many of the pests on your land. Even though it’s not for anyone as it does take some practice for getting it right, snaring is highly efficient and you should at least try it at times.
Here are the best parts about snaring:
- You don’t need to put much physical effort into it
- This method is really cheap, especially if you’re going to make your own traps
- It’s pretty effective and you can actually get impressively large catches with it
- You may confidently use it for all sorts of lands, no matter the size of the land
Snaring isn’t all roses and rainbows either so you do need to go through the downsides as well:
- The chances for losing the snares are quite high. They may also get stolen so that’s a risk you need to take.
- Setting the snares is a bit tricky and everything can go west pretty easy. It’s going to take you a lot of practice until you get it right so don’t lose hope
- Snares aren’t seen as humane. The animal may strangle itself or even pull off some parts of its skin or fur.
Long netting is pretty self-explanatory: you use long net to catch your rabbits. You should use this method at night, placing the net between the holes and the feeding places. You’re going to chase the pests into the net, which is very effective.
Let’s see the advantages of this method:
- It’s a great method to use on large fields, but it can work on decently sized lands as well
- It’s a rather cheap method as you only need to buy the nets
- You do need to know your land very well for setting the net. You also need to know where the rabbits feed and where are the holes too
- It ensures a humane and fast death
- You can kill a high number of rabbits in no time.
The disadvantages are important and you should give them a good read:
- If your field has livestock, the other animals may ruin your hunting
- You’re going to have to work in the dark which is pretty dangerous. The risk of slipping into a hole is quite high
- This isn’t an easy method, for sure. As a matter of fact, the rule of thumb is that the more you do it, the better you get at it. It takes time, nevertheless
- It’s going to take more than one hunter to cover a larger land. You should split the area into chasers and killers (two in the field and two on the net).
- The risk for rabbits to get away is quite high as they truly love this sport.
Long nesting is an effective method to use when the land is loaded with rabbits and hedgerows. It’s useless to try using it on a small garden with only two rabbits. Effective and challenging, long netting addresses to the dedicated hunter and it’s becoming a dying art as we speak.
Training dogs for rabbit hunting is a great way to be more effective, but also to bond with your dogs a lot better. Using dogs for rabbit hunting is going to make you even more successful. You may use them as receivers, gundogs or trackers, but there are ups and downs for each situation.
Let’s take a look at the advantages of using dogs for rabbit hunting:
- It’s a great way to spend more time with your dog
- You’re getting better chances for your rabbit hunting
- Dogs are better at hunting than humans. They’re fundamental when it comes to scent trailing or flushing.
When it comes to using dogs for rabbit hunting, the downsides aren’t many, but it’s useful to take them under consideration:
- You do need to spend time and to take care of your dogs so do it only if you are willing to give them time and attention
- You also need to spend some money for the vet and the good food. Keeping your dogs well fed and healthy is essential for relying on them while hunting
- Training your dogs doesn’t come cheap so it adds up to your spending. Is your wallet thick enough?
Yet another less popular hunting method, falconry is about using birds of prey for hunting. Falconry is truly for anyone willing to spend time with the bird of prey and it’s a long road to take. Falconry is a long time thing and it’s more about the sport, and not so much about putting the rabbit number under control. It’s a lot easier to try it when you know a falconer that wants to land some game.
Let’s highlight the main advantages of falconry:
- It’s probably the most environmentally friendly hunting method known to mankind
- It’s one astonishing sight to see. You should definitely watch it if not try it for yourself!
Even though it’s impressive in its essence, falconry does present some important downsides that need to be taken under consideration:
- This method isn’t very effective if you’re dealing with a large number of rabbits. The kills are pretty limited
- It’s quite a challenge to find falconers, to begin with. Finding one that does it for free is even more difficult
- If you’re determined to use it for pest control, you shouldn’t do it in the first place. Falconry is about training a bird for hunting and not so much about controlling pests on a land.
One last tip to keep in mind
There are many ways to hunt rabbits, and you should go with the ones that fit your needs and skills the best way. Try each of them and find out which works the best for you and your land. The more you know about a method, the easier is going to be when you’re out there, trying your best to get rid of the pests.