Best Time to Hunt Rabbits: University Expert Reveals

Hunting rabbits can be fun and fulfilling, particularly when you can catch a sizable number. To increase your chances of success, you need to get things right, including the best kind of equipment to use and the right time to hunt.

When is the best time to hunt rabbits? The best time to hunt rabbits is at dusk or dawn, as this is when they are most active. Due to their sleeping and feeding habits, it might not be easy to find rabbits during midday or late at night.

In a post on rabbit hunting, Matt Walker, a researcher at Mississippi State University mentions that rabbits are easy to spot at dusk and dawn. He also highlighted that cold; damp weather makes hunting rabbits easier.

When Is Rabbit Season?

Rabbit season varies depending on your location and the exact rabbit breed, but in most states, rabbit season starts in late fall and ranges from mid-October to late February.

A lot of states allow people to hunt rabbits all year round. However, hunting rabbits is more successful during some seasons than others. The best time to hunt rabbits ranges from fall to winter. In most states, this period is between October and February.

During this period mentioned above, the weather gets a lot colder as the season changes from summer to winter.

How Do You Attract Rabbits to Hunt?

The best way to attract rabbits to hunt is to lure them using foods that they like, including carrots, lettuce, and clovers. You can also target bushy areas that are close to their feeding areas.

Hunting rabbits can be made easier if you know what food items they like, as you can use these as bait. Apart from those mentioned above, Brussel sprouts and apples are among the foods that are rabbit favorites.

Apart from making rabbits come to you, you can instead seek them out by using food sources. Farms that contain any of their favorite food plants and barns are great spots for you to find rabbits.

Ways Hunters Tend to Capture Rabbits

Wooden rabbit boxesWhen used with apples and apple scent, it makes for an exceptionally good trapping method since if it’s old wood, the scent will stay within making it easier for the rabbits to catch the smell.
Cage trapThough cage traps don’t seem to be as effective as wooden traps, many use scraps of favorite rabbit dishes along with wires to catch rabbits more effectively. Though the effectiveness also depends on the material of the cage.

What Time of Day Are Rabbits Most Active?

Rabbits are most active at dusk and dawn as it is easier for them to stay safe from predators during these periods. During the day and at night, they mostly relax and stay hidden in their burrows.

There is a general belief among a lot of people that rabbits are nocturnal – meaning that they are active at night. However, this idea is false, and it is made popular because rabbits do a lot of sleeping during the day. Contrary to general opinion, rabbits are crepuscular animals.

While that sounds like a big word, its meaning is straightforward. Crepuscular simply refers to something related to twilight. Twilight is the period when the sun is below the horizon when there is a transition between darkness and daylight.

Simply put, crepuscular refers to dawn and dusk. When an animal is crepuscular, this means that their natural body rhythm makes them carry out most of their activities early in the morning and early in the evening.

The main reason rabbits and other animals are crepuscular is due to safety. In the wild, there are quite a lot of animals that predate on rabbits for food. Early in the morning and in the evening, the sun is low, and it is easy for a rabbit to spot a potential predator.

Also, most of these predators are active either during the day when the sun is high or at night when it is dark. Rabbits can avoid either of these time frames by being most active at twilight, reducing the likelihood of running into a predator.

During the day and at night, rabbits spend their time sleeping, safely hidden in the underground burrows. Even domesticated rabbits follow this pattern, and their inactivity during the day is what makes people wrongly assume that rabbits are active at night.

Apart from keeping safe from predators, rabbits are also less active during the day and at night because of unpleasant weather. During the day, the weather can get hot if the sun is out. Also, when the sun goes down at night, the weather can get very cold.

To avoid either of these uncomfortable situations, rabbits would stay in their burrows, safe from sunshine and extreme cold. At twilight, when rabbits are most active, the weather is more bearable than any other time of day.

In the wild, rabbits usually wake up early in the morning and spend time foraging for food, grooming themselves, and interacting with each other. This period of activity stops when it becomes mid or late morning, as the rabbits will return to the safety of their den to sleep or simply relax.

When evening approaches, rabbits will wake up once again and come out of their burrows to continue activities like feeding and grooming. Rabbits might remain active till late in the night before finally returning underground for the night.

If you are looking for the best time to hunt rabbits in the wild, you can stick to either early mornings or early evenings, as these periods increase your chances of getting a catch. 

Trying out different methods of hunting are valid too, such as setting down traps and snares. A high-quality traditional steel trap can be found on Amazon by Havahart. Click here for more information!

However, if you are hunting with dogs, you can still catch rabbits during the day since dogs can catch scent trails that have been left by rabbits early in the morning.

Is Rabbit Hunting Good in Cold Weather?

Yes, you can hunt rabbits in wintry weather, and it is easy to track their prints in the snow. However, you need to be properly outfitted when going out to hunt in the cold.

As mentioned earlier, rabbit season is usually in the fall, and this is when the overall temperature drops rapidly. Rabbit season usually stretches from the end of one year to the start of the next year. This period coincides with late fall and early winter.

During rabbit season, the weather transitions from summer to winter, and might extend into full winter. This means that for you to successfully hunt rabbits, you might find yourself moving around in very freezing weather, and sometimes, in deep snowfall.

We have discussed how rabbits often stay hidden during the day and night, choosing to come out early in the morning and the evening. Sometimes, they might break this routine, going out during the day instead.

This occurrence is more often during chilly weather, particularly when the sun comes out after a particularly cold spell. Rabbits might come out in situations like this because of the rare sunshine, using the rare opportunity to receive warmth after a prolonged period of unpleasant cold.

You can take advantage of such a situation, hunting rabbits down in full sunlight, either alone, or with your hunting dogs.

When hunting rabbits in cold weather, you should be fully prepared for the occasion. This means thick coats and pants that are sure to keep away the cold, and boots that can help you walk in the snow and unpleasant terrains.

Apart from the availability of rabbits, there are some reasons why hunting in the winter a more fulfilling experience can be than other periods.

  • Easy Tracking

Due to snow’s white color, it is easy to find rabbits that are trying to hide from you since most rabbit species have brown fur. Their appearance makes them stand out against the snow, meaning you can locate and track them easily.

Also, since snow is soft, you can easily find the footprints of a rabbit that you are tracking down. Tracking is often harder in other seasons since animal footprints are not as pronounced on snow as on the regular ground.

  • Increased Visibility

If you are hunting with friends, each member of your hunting group needs to be visible enough for everyone else to improve safety. Since snow has a distinct white color, everyone can put on bright-colored clothing to remain visible.

Orange-colored clothes for instance are a necessity, making sure there is no accident among members of your hunting party caused by poor visibility. Snowshoes are just as important, such as these from Odoland on Amazon, sinking on the hunt could mean getting left behind and quickly losing core body temperature due to continuous contact with snow. Click here for more information!

  • Aesthetics

While this might not be a practical advantage when it comes to hunting, the presence of snow can go a long way in improving your experience.

Also, because of the weather, you can have a genuine camping experience while hunting. Warm clothes, campfires, and hot coffee put together are an awesome combination.

What Time of Year Can Rabbits Be Eaten?

It is safest to eat rabbits during the winter, as the weather conditions reduce the risk of hunting down a rabbit that is either ill or has been infested with harmful parasites.

As exciting as it might be to hunt down and eat wild rabbits, some disadvantages come with the practice. Unlike those that are grown on farms, wild rabbits are exposed to many diseases and parasites and do not get adequate treatment.

This exposure can make some wild rabbits unsafe to eat, particularly if they carry a disease that might be harmful to humans when touched or eaten. Due to more comfortable living conditions, it is easier for some parasites to grow during warm weather than in chilly weather.

You should note that if you prepare and cook a rabbit properly before eating it, you shouldn’t be bothered by these parasites. However, if you are particular about reducing the chances of encountering any of these organisms, your best bet is to hunt during the winter.

Another reason it is safer to hunt rabbits in the winter than in other seasons is that there is a lower chance of coming across a sickened rabbit. When a rabbit is ill (potentially carrying a dangerous disease), it is more than likely to be weakened and die off when winter starts.

So, if you wait until winter is in full effect, you can be sure that all the rabbits that you will see running around are healthy.

Can You Hunt Rabbits Without a License?

No, you need a license to hunt down rabbits, particularly if the land on which you are hunting belongs to someone else, the government, or the public.

According to statistics from the Hunter Incident Database, in 2019, there were 56 hunting-related accidents that involved a shooting. While most of these shootings were not fatal, they emphasize the need for hunting activities to be regulated, making hunting licenses very vital.

Getting a hunting license varies depending on the state you live in, but there is a general procedure that can apply to most locations. The best way to get a hunting license is to contact the wildlife department of your state to purchase a license.

This can be done in person or by visiting the website of the state’s hunting department. You might need to submit some paperwork to get licensed, including proper identification. You can also get a hunting license from a retail store that sells hunting equipment.

To further improve safety, some states might require you to pass a test to prove that you know how to handle a gun properly. While this might be a basic quiz, it can also be a full-on gun safety course, ensuring that all licensed hunters maintain proper decorum.

Apart from getting a general license from your state, you might need to get an additional license depending on where you are hunting. If you intend to visit a national wildlife refuge, you might be required to pay for another license, permitting you to hunt in that specific area.

You should also take note of how often you need to update your hunting license. Some states demand that you renew your hunting license every year, just before a new hunting season.

In addition, you should be wary of the type and amount of game that you hunt in specific areas. If you are hunting on regulated grounds, there are often limits to the number of rabbits that you are allowed to hunt within a specific time range.

For instance, some hunting refugees might not permit a single person to hunt down more than six rabbits at one go. You should find out about such regulations and stick to them. However, if you go out into the woods where there are no such restrictions, you can hunt as many rabbits as you want.

Finally, getting familiar with various rabbit species is necessary to keep things at optimal. Some rabbit species are rare and endangered, and as such should not be hunted down. An example of these delicate rabbit species is the Mexican Volcano rabbits.

Rabbit species like the jackrabbit and the cotton-tailed rabbits are the most populous and often the most hunted. If you come across either of these rabbit breeds, then you can hunt with a lot of freedom.

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