Bunnies aren't beneath me. Sadly, this is not the case for all hunters these days. Some look down their noses at old Br'er Rabbit. They've decided, what with our cornucopia of whitetails, turkeys and elk, that cottontails are kid stuff. Heck, even some kids forgo the joys of stalking, rousting, jumping and chasing rabbits.
Too bad. They're missing out. Anyone who ignores bunnies misses out on a classic American hunting tradition. Famous old hunters like Dan Boone, Kit Carson and Teddy Roosevelt honed their skills on bunnies. Pioneers and farm kids potted cottontails from Maine to California while fueling our westward expansion. And after the fences, farmsteads and roads went in, country folk maintained their connection to the wilds by continuing to stalk, jump, chase and hunt rabbits. Pursuing rabbits for dinner is simple, inexpensive, pure hunting fun.
"Hunt" is the operative word. You don't sit in blinds reading novels while waiting for cottontails to show up. You don't stare at decoys, scrapes or bait piles. You get after 'em. You walk the fields and hills; explore the hollows of that toppled old oak; stomp down that abandoned, brushy old railroad grade; turn out the hounds; stomp on the brush piles; rattle rusty fence lines; kick the rock piles. This is a physical undertaking, an exhilarating, heart-pounding freedom. Don't worry about scent or camouflage. Don't bother with trail cameras, mock scrapes and grunt calls. Just hunt.
Don't worry about missing opening weekend, either. In virtually every state the season stretches for months. Daily bag limits are generous, so hunt long, hard and often. You don't need to buy an expensive license or win a limited tag. You don't have to determine if one is a buck or a doe or whether it has enough antler points. You won't have to pay extra if the antlers are too big or too small, and you can probably get permission to hunt farms and ranches closed to big-game hunting.
Fill your freezer with mild, delectable rabbit, a staple in hunter/gatherer societies around the world. Amazingly, cottontails don't just feed our bodies; hunting them also feeds our spirits with the simple joys of our birthright—the right to roam the Earth in our natural roles as hunters searching for sustenance.
So don't shortchange yourself by thinking bunnies are beneath you. Hunt them to renew memories of a simpler time. Hunt them to refresh your skills. Hunt them to give yourself and your dogs some exercise. Hunt them to stay close to nature, to see snow falling on cedars, to smell rotting leaves and damp soil, to hear owls hooting in the gloom as you hike back to the truck, game bag heavy with the day's reward.
Finally, hunt cottontails with kids. The simple cottontail has the power to lure youngsters away from electronic stimuli, tempting them into the wilds where they discover a real world of mystery, beauty and drama. It's a place where they must learn to control more than a joystick, it's where they must learn to control themselves. It's a place where, given proper guidance, they can grow strong, straight and self-confident.
Cottontails were and still are our entre into the challenging, natural world of the hunter/gatherer. Grab the .410 single-shot. Load up the .22 rimfire. Whistle up the hounds and call the kids. It's time for a bunny hunt.
How to Put Down A Black Bear
Most hunters are used to aiming behind the shoulder on deer for a double-lung shot. This works on bears, too; you can aim right behind the top of the shoulder and nearly halfway up the side. Better yet, break one or both shoulders. A bullet that busts bone and bursts lungs is the best way to anchor a bear. Bullet and bone fragments should damage the lungs and maybe even the heart. If you accidentally hit high you should still sever the bear's spine.
Take this shot only on a wounded bear that needs to be anchored. Your target is the top of the tail, not below it, so nervous and skeletal systems are hit. You want to split the pelvis and take out the back legs so a finishing shot can be taken.
Try to brain a charging bear. From the front, your target is just above a line that would join the top of the eyes. If possible, wait till the head points down or at a 90-degree angle to the bullet path. Keep shooting until it is down, as an adrenaline-charged bruin can be hard to stop.
If it's facing you, aim just below the jaw to drive the bullet through the neck and chest. If it's quartering toward you, aim for the shoulder you can see and send the bullet through the chest cavity. If it's quartering away, do this in reverse by shooting up through the chest to the far shoulder.
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Like the fossilized skeletons of its ancestors displayed in the Smithsonian, a 12-foot alligator can be scary even when it's dead—something that Shooting Illustrated's Adam Heggenstaller learned in person during a gator hunt in Florida. Read More »
Could 2011 be the year of the work truck? If so, the Ram Tradesman is ready to clock in. Equipped with a juiced-up HEMI® engine.... Read More »
The year that Sumner, Mo., erected a statue of "Maxie" to commemorate being the "Wild Goose Capital of the World."
Maxie sports a 65-foot wingspan while resting on a cinderblock building in a community park.
The number of cackling subspecies.
The cackling goose, a smaller-bodied goose prominent in Canada and Alaska, is a tundra-breeder with considerably more black plumage than the Canada. At one time, the cackling goose was considered the smallest subspecies of the Canada, but is now recognized as a separate species.