Long Range Air­gun Hunt­ing

Jim Chap­man de­scribes how he likes to hunt the hum­ble rab­bit

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Jim Chap­man tells us why the desert is his favourite place for hunt­ing rab­bits

Like our hunt­ing brethren in the UK, rab­bits fig­ure promi­nently in the game bags of Amer­i­can hun­ters, rep­re­sent­ing one of the most com­monly pur­sued air­gun quar­ries, and whilst many sim­i­lar­i­ties ex­ist, there are also some note­wor­thy dif­fer­ences. When hunt­ing rab­bits in North Amer­ica, the hunter can en­counter var­ied ecosys­tems and land­scapes, a num­ber of dif­fer­ent rab­bit species, and a di­verse range of hunt­ing laws.

I have read that half the world’s rab­bit pop­u­la­tion lives in North Amer­ica, and while I don’t know if this is true, they are every­where! There are sev­eral species of rab­bit, de­pend­ing on where you hunt, com­pris­ing true rab­bits and hares. The ubiq­ui­tous cot­ton­tail oc­curs in one form or an­other in al­most ev­ery state in the coun­try; jackrab­bits are found in the western and south­west­ern re­gions, and snow­shoe hares in the north­ern reaches.

The cot­ton­tail closely re­sem­bles the Euro­pean rab­bit, but varies in size ac­cord­ing to species. There are over a dozen cot­ton­tail species; the pygmy, brush, desert, Mex­i­can, east­ern, moun­tain, swamp, and marsh cot­ton­tails, to name a few. The cot­ton­tail is a true rab­bit, and can range in size from about 1lb for the pygmy rab­bit, found in the coastal north-west, to the wa­ter-lov­ing swamp rab­bits that can go over 5lbs. The jackrab­bit (hare) and the snow­shoe hare get much larger, and I’ve shot jackrab­bits weigh­ing in at over 12lbs.

Va­ri­ety

The en­vi­ron­ments sup­port­ing rab­bit pop­u­la­tions are as var­ied as the types of rab­bits. They are found in ur­ban/sub­ur­ban set­tings, as well as the pas­tures and agri­cul­tural set­tings that UK hun­ters are fa­mil­iar with, but we also find them in the rugged moun­tains from the Rock­ies to the Ap­palachi­ans, in the swampy ever­glades and bi­jous of the Deep South, the snow-cov­ered for­est of the North­ern climes, and my favourite, the deserts of the south-west. Some of my best hunt­ing mem­o­ries come from rab­bit hunts in the Mo­jave, Sono­ran, and Great Basin deserts that spread across Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona, New Mex­ico, Utah, and Texas.

The desert res­onates with me and is one of my favourite land­scapes; harsh and un­for­giv­ing, yet at the same time

“I have read that half the world’s rab­bit pop­u­la­tion lives in North Amer­ica”

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