Trad Gang

Topic Archives => Hunting => Topic started by: Sarah on July 16, 2008, 10:46:00 PM

Title: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 16, 2008, 10:46:00 PM
Though I grew up in central PA (home to a lot of hunters), no one in my family hunts and I've never done it myself. I'd never even shot a gun until a few weeks ago.

Some of you might remember my beginner's thread from earlier this summer. Anyway, I'd like to try my hand at hunting rabbits with my bow come fall/winter, but have no idea where to start.

Can you offer some advice on how I could prepare to hunt small game for the first time? (beyond the obvious of practice shooting, practice shooting, practice shooting)...

Thankee Kindly   :)

I want to clarify also that I will be hunting in central Pennsylvania.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: **DONOTDELETE** on July 16, 2008, 10:53:00 PM
I found if you get a used 2 liter bottle and fill it half way with water you have a nice buddy target, but use rubber blunts on it... You can also blow up some balloons and just let the wind move them around... Just like bunnies....

The main thing is to have fun, No matter what.... Have Fun...

If You where closer to Jersey some of us are planning a fall trad bow hunt & we will be having our second Jersey winter bow hunt in January 2009, Your more then welcome to join Us.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 16, 2008, 10:57:00 PM
balloons...of course! do you shoot them with blunts of field points? or a judo...I have one of those...
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: **DONOTDELETE** on July 16, 2008, 11:08:00 PM
any tip will be find for balloons, judo's will be better because they stand up in the grass/weeds so you don't lose them.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: 2-BIG on July 17, 2008, 06:59:00 AM
My wife and I get prepared for rabbit hunting by shooting at a small, hard foam ball, and shooting rubber blunts. First we roll the ball or kick it and shoot at it while its moving. Then when it stops we shoot at it sitting. When you get real good, use a tennis ball.
For hunting you will need a back quiver with several arrows of your choice tipped with a small game head. Check out 3 Rivers and they will have a few different types of heads to choose from.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Charlie Lamb on July 17, 2008, 07:43:00 AM
Sarah... The most important part of hunting rabbits is gonna be finding a place to hunt them. After that you just shoot at the little buggers until it comes together.

I'm not sure what kind of rabbits you have to chase in your vicinity. I guess there could be snowshoe hares up that way, but will assume your after cottontails.

Cottontails like brush bordered by open grassy areas. You won't find them much in the timber.
Brush piles are likely hiding places as are old junk yards or old buildings/farmsteads.

Anywhere there is hard core security cover for them.

Of course if you have snow to work with, you are ahead of the game. Their tracks and runs will give them away.

As a rabbit runs, he brings his hind feet around and in front of his fronts and pushes off. His track will look like a "Y" with the larger hind feet forming the top of the "Y" widely spaced. The front feet are smaller and placed close together at the bottom of the "Y".
The open end of the "Y" points the direction the rabbit went.

Rabbits have a fairly small home range so once you find one he will most always be close to that area when you come back another time...if you don't get him.

When tracking a rabbit on snow, remember that they will almost always circle when pursued. A good tactic is to leave a person where the rabbit was jumped and have another do the tracking until the rabbit comes back around.

When scouting for "rabbittat" in winter (I made that word up.  :D  ) look for small saplings, blackberry canes or sumac that have been stripped of bark close to the ground.

You'll probably want to use a broadhead of some sort (a cheap 3 blade works great). Though sharpness isn't as important as with big game, it still helps to keep them sharp for small game.

I hope others will add more tips. This should get you started.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 17, 2008, 08:16:00 AM
I have some blunts that I modified into "tarantulas" that I read about on here just to try it out. Will those work for the bunnies?

Where is the best spot to aim on the wee beasties?

Thanks for all the info everyone. Charlie: I suspect your bit about tracking will come in very handy!

Thanks all.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: 2-BIG on July 17, 2008, 08:28:00 AM
Just like most all animals, the goodies are in the chest cavity. Broadside shots...aim for the front shoulder area or head. If you have access to a good Beagle then you should have lots of shooting as they keep circling the rabbit by you until you finally hit it or till the rabbit gets tired of being chased and decides to hole up!  :D
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Drew on July 17, 2008, 08:38:00 AM
For practice I start with a 2 liter plastic bottle filled with expanding foam insulation and blunts, then move smaller to a 20oz pop bottle then a tennis ball.

If you shoot by yourself have an extra arrow at the ready and hit the target get it to move and try and get another shoot at it...or have some one throw it out ahead of you.

Great advice from everyone here...I love to hunt fence rows and standing pines after a snow, you call stalk them if they are out sunning themselves.

I like to use the Ace "Bunny Busters" as they work well for cottontails..I haven't connected with a snowshoe yet!

Best of luck, it's a great feeling to get a rabbit with your bow...

Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: no on July 17, 2008, 08:53:00 AM
get a beagle or two if you really want action bunny hunting. You are actually in a decent area down there for getting dogs.  Mike
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Charlie Lamb on July 17, 2008, 10:01:00 AM

What head will work best depends on how heavy/efficient your bow is. If you must use the modified "Tarantula" blunt, then I'd suggest trying for head shots only.

Otherwise use a blunt with a smaller striking surface so you get some penetration.

I suspect you are using mid to low forties for bow weight. Once again, a broadhead is good insurance. Rabbits can be surprisingly tough.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: madness522 on July 17, 2008, 10:17:00 AM
I like shooting tennis balls with judos.  It really makes you focus on the shot.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Hamish on July 17, 2008, 10:43:00 AM
If you happen to wound one pick it up by the back legs and give it a good karata chop across the back of the neck to kill it fast.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Don Stokes on July 17, 2008, 02:15:00 PM
Judo points are great for rabbits- they're not hard to kill, and the spring wires on the judo will cut right through them.

My favorite rabbit hunting spot is some beaver ponds surrounded by hardwood forest. The thickest cover around is on the edge of the ponds, and when you jump one, if you have a hunting partner one of you can circle around out in the woods and come back to the band of cover and wait, while your partner walks the edge and drives the rabbit to you. They're not moving quite as fast and are easier to hit that way.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Killdeer on July 17, 2008, 03:43:00 PM
Some rabbits ARE hard to kill.
Sarah, I started out hunting 25 years ago with no mentors except what I could pry out of magazines. You and I are a lot alike, 'cept now we have TradGang and a whole Internet out there. (remember, I'm an old fart...the Internet is a big deal to me!)

I have hunted rabbits ONCE. I had a great teacher in Shawn Leonard, Swampbuck, a couple-three beagles and a host of other TradGangers. The rabbits up there pee blue. Like raspberry Slurpee blue. Look for blue spots on the snow. It comes (most likely) from chowing down on raspberry canes. I had very good penetration and shocking power using Ace hex blunts. They snake through brush better than Judos, too. My first kill was a perfect heart shot...for a deer. It was too far back in rabbitworld. The heart is under the shoulder muscles, don't worry about the bones.

The entry on this bunny is where the hair is all gloopy just behind the foreleg. That is a gut shot on a rabbit.

This one went through the neck and snapped the spine.


I have a better pic, but someone suggested that I was trotting it out too often.  :rolleyes:  
I don't care.

Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: JEFF B on July 17, 2008, 04:14:00 PM
yeah you tell em killie!!  :biglaugh:
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: LMCHIEF on July 17, 2008, 09:55:00 PM
hey sarah- did you get your new bow yet? if you do give me a call and we will go shoot, I will take you out to the airport and we can shoot at tennis balls with the judos you bought a couple weeks ago
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 17, 2008, 11:16:00 PM
Thanks everyone for the info.

Killy, you continue to make my day. did you get that email I sent you?

Dave, sorry I didn't call today, I got off work a bit late and opened up my package to a heap of rain.   Am I cursed for not shooting this beauty the day I got it? I'll call you tomorrow.

Any more information anyone's got would be great...I'll most likely be hunting alone, though I may have a  non-hunter along (one of those outdoorsy types), and I certainly will not have a beagle. Any ideas for such a scenario?
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Killdeer on July 17, 2008, 11:26:00 PM
You mean the one with this link in it? Nope...  

 Check out this picture!! (  

Awesome!  :bigsmyl:
Killdeer  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Killdeer on July 17, 2008, 11:38:00 PM
Scenario 1:
Get the nonhunter to jump up and down (down is important) on all brush piles. He or she must do this vigorously, and with feeling. Stand a few yards off, in the direction that you feel the rabbit will go, and to the side of their path. If you wait for snow, you will see the runways that they habitually take. Be ready to shoot.

It's almost midnight, and I get up at 4:45. How many of these do I have to come up with?

Scenario 2 involves a hand grenade.

Killdeer  :biglaugh:
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 17, 2008, 11:42:00 PM
now things are getting interesting...

Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Molson on July 17, 2008, 11:58:00 PM
I'm not a fan of broadheads for rabbits because I like to have an arrow on the string while I'm kicking around in the brush.  Just not worth the risk of putting one through your leg.

Judo and Ace Hex are excellent and I've never had one fail to knock down rabbits except when I miss!

Look for the eye of the rabbit in the brush. It's a lot harder to see a whole bunny. Many times they will sit perfectly still and let you walk within feet of them.  Sometimes you're nearly standing on them when kicking brush before they take off.  If they're in the open and see you, they'll usually head for the hole.  Remember hole locations for future hunts and look for rabbit sign in cover near the hole.  They will use the same cover over and over.

Take the non-hunter along when you just want to walk and have some company.  Non-hunting outdoors types usually want to see what's around the bend, not what's right in front of them.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 18, 2008, 08:11:00 AM
is there a particular time of day or weather that is good for hunting bunnies?
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: doeboy on July 18, 2008, 08:33:00 AM
If you are interested, when ever you come back to P.A. and want to hook up with some good beagles and lots of bunnies,we are always looking for some "shooters" to come along. my dad likes to bring some people so the dogs keep "fur in their mouth" we hunt around the Long Pond/Mountain top area in the Poconos. Not to bad of a drive. Offers open.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: BobT on July 18, 2008, 08:54:00 AM

My absolute favorite time to hunt bunnies is on a cold morning with little or no wind and bright sun. If there is a little fresh snow that's even better. Prowl slowly through areas with thick brush and a southern exposure. Rabbits will come out of the thickest brush to "sun" themselves, since you are going without a dog just go slow and keep your eyes open. As mentioned in a previous post, that shiny black eye will almost jump out at you sometimes. That is also my aiming point, sitting or running I will always aim for the eye and don't be afraid to take running shots, you will surprise yourself! If that is your target in the link that Killdeer posted you won't have too much trouble with rabbits. Your Judo points should work just fine and are "loss resistant" . Rabbits are also easy to clean and excellent table fare. Good luck and keep us posted. I expect you will be posting bunny pictures before long!

As far as I'm concerned you can post your bunnie pictures as much as you like! And if you ever want to chase Missouri Whitetails you are welcome to bring your Hubby and come on out. I'll put you on a "Big'un". I can't seem to close the deal on him anyway!
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Drew on July 18, 2008, 02:23:00 PM
Killie, we call jumping brush doing the "bunny stomp".

Sarah, if you don't have anyone to go with just stalk them. Winter is always a good time for a walk. The day after a fresh snow is good or the morning after. Walk the edges of thick stuff and you'll find tracks...nothing like wandering like a coyote!

Best of luck...
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 18, 2008, 04:28:00 PM
ok, i have a few more basic questions as well...

how does licensing work? what license(s) do i need?
i need to take a hunter's safety course, how do i find out where i can do that?

i'll post them as i think of them... :)
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: **DONOTDELETE** on July 18, 2008, 05:37:00 PM
if your not going to hunt deer then a small game license will do.

go to your Home State's fish & game website or call them.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Jason Jelinek on July 18, 2008, 05:45:00 PM
My experience shooting rabbits (about 1 dozen) is that blunts and judos are great for head shots but broadheads will kill them in far more places (marginal hits).

Imagine taking a 10" wide broad head and shooting a deer.  Hitting a deer in most places with a 10" wide broadhead would probably kill them.

Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Killdeer on July 19, 2008, 05:28:00 PM
I took Hunter's Ed at the National Wildlife Federation. Then I took it at a county-run shooting center. Then I took it there again. Then I took it at the rod and gun club that I belong to. Some Izaak Walton League chapters may hold them, and this link came from the Pennsylvania State Game Commission.

Killdeer  :bigsmyl:  (I aced the test every time!)
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Jacobm on July 19, 2008, 07:56:00 PM
My 13 year old is taking hunters ed on-line.  This on-line course is accepted in some states, but not all.  
I was talking to a local CO who is also an instructer and he said the on-line test is harder than the one he gives.  He even admitted to missing a number of questions when he took the on-line test.  After hearing that, I had to give the test a try.  Figured it would be a cake walk for someone who has hunted many seasons and aced ed classes before.  Let's just say it was a humbling experience!  I still passed but missed more than expected.
Killdeer - If you get a chance, try the on line test.  I would like to see how someone that has taken a number of different tests would do.  I'm sure better than I.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Jacobm on July 19, 2008, 08:26:00 PM
Here's the home page that shows the states that accept the on-line cert.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 20, 2008, 11:12:00 AM
Looks like the online test in PA is a no-go. Thanks Killie for the link, I'll have to get on that as soon as I get home.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: bmfer on July 20, 2008, 12:39:00 PM
Sarah, consider scheduling your hunter safety course asap, usually they fill up closer to hunting season.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 21, 2008, 08:11:00 PM
Ok, got my hunter's safety scheduled for early September. But I was thinking I ought to know a bit before then so I can stock up on gear etc.

My folks mentioned there being a law in PA that you have to wear a certain amount of orange when hunting...can anyone shed light on this for me? I feel like the PAGC website is so archaic that I can't find any relevant information about hunting laws and guidelines. Remember, I'm totally new to this. Help!
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: bentpole on July 21, 2008, 08:37:00 PM
Sarah, "Hunter Orange" in Jersey is for firearms seasons[anything gun]. Im sure Pennsy is the same way. However maybe some Good Folks from Pennsy can help you out on that some  more.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: ishiwannabe on July 21, 2008, 09:48:00 PM
Good advice so far, and if your hunting in PA, it may be worth a road trip to NY for Shawn's bunny hunt. You will not meet any better people.
Solo is doable. I have had the best luck stalking the wild roses, there is usually a bunny under one at any time. Inspect anything that could be a rabbit....I have had them explose under foot after I passed them off as a dead leaf.
If you can, practice on moving targets. Kick a soccer ball...etc.
Learning to hunt is part of it, so dont stress out if you feel like you dont know enough going into it. Each trip out is a learning experience.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Killdeer on July 21, 2008, 09:58:00 PM
The site IS difficult to navigate. I went back and poked around, and clicked on the Hunting Digest. Here is a link. I think it will answer a lot of your questions.

This leads me to a pet peeve. With states bemoaning the drop in hunter numbers, wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to decipher all the nuances of the game laws in your, or another state? It is bad enough that available lands are dwindling, and increased urbanization of land and people are making it difficult and unlikely for more people to even learn to shoot, much less hunt, but the states could really use some help in simplifying laws and their publication.

I once picked up a copy of the West Virginia game laws, as I hunt right on the border and might like to get an out of state license so I can roam at will. It confused me so badly, especially because I was unfamiliar with what was where and which zone it was in, that I let it drop and I stay on my side of the line. And I am not really stupid, I just look that way online.  :readit:  

Killdeer  :banghead:
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 21, 2008, 11:13:00 PM
I agree with you completely. As someone who is coming into this with no experience, it really seems like the system was designed for "family hunters" -- you know, people who grew up hunting and who just "know" what do to. It's not quite so easy for everyone...

So, are there separate seasons for archery and guns? I thought there were, but the link Killdeer gave above doesn't say anything about it... confusion!!!

REVISION: actually, it does say something about it. small game hunting = 250 square inches of orange that must be visible from 360 degrees...ok, what do you all do for orange?

oh, and how do i get in on this bunny hunt?
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: COMBER on July 21, 2008, 11:25:00 PM
The orange law in Pa makes no sense at all. The way it was explained to me was when there is a gun season going on during archery you must wear orange. I live in Bucks county and it's a special regulation area and during the extended antlerless season, black powder season and winter archery you don't have to wear orange even though all of those seasons are in at the same time. The one tip I'll give you is to always have it in your pack in case it is needed.

Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Molson on July 21, 2008, 11:38:00 PM
Basically, if you wear a blaze orange vest and hat during a season that requires orange, you'll be covered. If memory serves me, you must wear blaze orange when small game hunting in PA whether with a bow or not. When bowhunting in the gun season, I just wear a cheap blaze orange vest over my jacket and a blaze orange watch cap.  You can get both just about anywhere for less than $20 combined.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 22, 2008, 08:03:00 AM
ok, good deal.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: GR on July 22, 2008, 11:40:00 AM
check out the Trad Gang DVD, available at the tradgang store.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Talondale on July 22, 2008, 12:22:00 PM
Wearing blaze orange is plain smart, period.  Ask Guru if he would wear orange.  If there's any type of gun season I'd be wearing orange.  A vest and hat is plenty.  Also be thinking all the time where you can and can't shoot safely.  Especially if you have a friend along. (make sure they have orange on as well) Try to have your friend abreast or behind you so they aren't in your line of fire.  Have good, comfortable shoes (boots) and I'd suggest brush pants.  These are pants that have some sort of extra cloth stitched on the front of the legs (sort of like chaps).  If you're hunting rabbits you're most likely going to be in and around briars and these pants will help save you a lot of scratches.  Don't over dress, you are going to be moving a lot and will get warm.  Go slow and have fun.  Laugh at your misses.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: eidsvolling on July 22, 2008, 06:13:00 PM

I'd like to nominate this topic as suitable for duplicating in the "Classic" forum.  Yeah, it's a little green for that status perhaps, but there's lots of good info here for beginners (and others) and it will probably continue in that vein.
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Sarah on July 22, 2008, 11:03:00 PM
glad there truly are no "dumb questions" around here.    :p

it has been really helpful to me at least.

can anyone just sort of tell me what hunting is like in a very basic sense? I you tend to run into other hunters (traditional bowhunters, even?) I always sort of thought hunting was a very solitary thing but the deal with the vests has me thinking otherwise...

is there any "hunting etiquette" that i am unaware of?

maybe this stuff will be answered in my hunter's ed...but i want to know now! (haven't had a chance to look over the online bit yet)

how far do you usually end up having to walk before you find bunnies? hope that one makes sense.

thanks also for all of your help everyone!
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Bill Shepard on July 23, 2008, 12:16:00 AM
Your "solitude" will depend greatly on where you plan on hunting.  I've found most hunters don't like to venture too far from their vehicle, so if you don't mind hiking you might be able to find a quiet spot.

I like to get out and hike around all year.  The off season is a good time to find areas that hold bunnies.  I've seen them at all times of the day, but they may act different out here on the west coast.

I'm sure someone in PA will read this link and point you toward an old homestead where you will have a good chance at finding something to shoot at.  

I admire your drive to learn the sport.  I'm sure you'll have many days worth getting up early for.   :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Preparing to hunt...?
Post by: Bonebuster on July 23, 2008, 07:30:00 AM
Sarah, here in Michigan we have lots of predators that are after the same bunny we want to hunt.
I imagine it`s the same where you are too. They are food for many hunters.

Therefore, they must have a place where they are never too far from good escape cover. In short they like it thick. Often the best cottontail hunting is very near old barns, fallen down sheds, old cars, overgrown fence rows, and usually very close to habitated buildings.
You don`t usually have to walk very far from where you park to find bunnies. What you must do, is learn to slow down and train yourself to spot the rabbits as they are hiding. The rabbits that live the longest are the ones with the most nerve
that remain motionless when something walks near them. If you find a spot that has lots of rabbit sign(droppings, padded trails through the grass resembling tunnels of sorts, chew marks on brush near the ground) and you don`t see rabbits, it`s probably because you moved through it too fast.
When they do run, often they won`t go far before they stop. You will find, that a rabbit taken with a bow, is a well deserved trophy. Although the target is small, the rewards are big.
A cold, clear, still morning is the best time to find rabbits. This is when you will find them warming their bones on the edges of thick cover. Move very slowly, and use your eyes as you may have never done before. When you go after rabbits, alone, without a dog... you are truely HUNTING.

Hunting etiquette is the same as daily life for the most part. Be nice, and you`ll have it made.
Big game is different than small game, and if you are looking to hunt a certain location, and happen across someone else, or a treestand, or other sign of another hunter, usually the best thing to do is relocate. You don`t usually have to go far, and I have found that once I locate where another hunter is, I know where the game WON`T be when the other hunter is in the woods.

I have been bowhunting for thirty years, my first time out was at the age of twelve. In all that time I have met only two traditional hunters while in the field.

I assure you that you will meet other bowhunters while you are out. I can also assure you, that you will make them think. You will walk away, with your simple beautiful bow, and they will look down at the contraption they hold in their hands... and they will wonder. And even though you are new to hunting, you will have taught an experienced hunter... something.