I had first got the idea of going rabbit hunting after eating rabbit soup while in Russia, the meat was delicious and had a texture similar to chicken. When I returned to Arizona it was February and prime season for rabbit hunting. I did a little research online to try and find the best place to go but as is usual, and I don’t blame them, only vague general locations were given! So I took to a trusty tool for Arizona hunters called Habimap.com. This is a state resource website that details land usage using a GIS (Geographic Information System) and it enables you to look at and analyze multiple layers of land data. For my purpose I turned on the land ownership layer and the topographic map layer. I found some State Trust Land and National Forest about 45 minutes from home that had what looked like some decent valleys and washes for the rabbits to live in.
I packed up all my gear including:
-Molle Backpack, with water bladder, knife, zip lock bags, gloves, and of course snacks!
-WH SSSK Survival Kit & GHA Medical Kit
-Over/Under 20 gauge Shotgun
I headed out early in the morning with
my wife hoping to bag a couple of rabbits
and maybe even a quail or two. We hiked
and hiked and I saw some movement and
drew up my gun but it only turned out to be
a squirrel…It started getting late in the day
and we regrettably had to call it quits. I went
home disappointed that I had not even seen
a rabbit or taken a shot, but you can never
regret about getting out into the wild and trying
I had honestly thought rabbit hunting would be fairly easy compared to hunting quail, but it turns out I had underestimated the rabbit. I was determined to get a rabbit the next time though so I started doing some reading on how the rabbit lives, eats, and sleeps. While reading the materials I realized my mistake, I hadn’t checked the moon’s stage. The cottontail rabbit is very smart and knows how to best protect itself, so when the moon is more than half full he opts to feed mainly at night when it is safer from predators. When the moon is less than half full he prefers to feed in the early morning or dusk where it is easier for him to see. On my previous trip the moon had been nearly full; it was now no wonder why I hadn’t seen a single cottontail! Another thing I learned about rabbits is that they will defecate right next to their dens, because in hard times they will eat it again. So finding rabbit droppings is a good sign that there is a den nearby. A good tip is to circle around the hole two times to see if you can get him to jump. Of course it is also good to know that rabbits like valleys and ravines and bushy/dense areas.
With this new knowledge in hand I planned my next hunt accordingly. My Wife and I took off at 5:00 am to some State Trust land east of Chandler Arizona. The sun was just getting up when we started out into the desert towards some small hills. Not 30 minutes into our hunt did I bag my first Rabbit, unfortuntley it wasn't the first one I had seen that morning! Arizona Rabbits are fast! The rabbits were out and we were having a great time, doing the research had really paid off. We even got to see a huge Desert Jack Rabbit with his huge ears jumping around looking for food in the early morning. As the day wore on we got another rabbit and then ran into a huge covey of quail around 40 count. So we turned our sights on them having satisfied our taste for rabbit. Quail are always an exciting bird to hunt, they are loud when they take off and fly real low, their small size also aides in their ability to evade our sights. Without a dog to hold the quail in place the covey stayed out pretty far in front of us and we were only able to bag two stragglers. Our Golden Labrador Melon had to sit this one out at the car as she was still just a pup, but she got to play with the quail feathers later! By the end of the days hunt we had bagged 2 Rabbits and 2 Quail, it was a great day and we are looking forward to our next chance to chase some more rabbits.
Jonathan Barbera - Owner