For obvious reasons, hunting rabbits is limited to small-caliber weapons, such as .22s, air rifles, and small game shot from a 20-gauge shotgun. Rabbits are quick, small targets, and spook very easily.
While most hunters go after rabbits for food, they’re also considered varmints because of their destructive nature on small farms and vegetable gardens. Rabbits aren’t as limited as most popular game, with some states allowing rabbit hunts to go on all year.
If you’re interested in hunting them and want to know where to shoot a rabbit, they have two primary kill zones. Assuming you’re not using a shotgun, rabbits present small targets, and they’re often hard to spot and track, blending in well with their surroundings.
Where to Shoot a Rabbit
The two kill zones on a rabbit are the head and the chest. They aren’t the largest targets in the world, so be sure to have your rifle properly zeroed. Most hunters, especially those new to hunting rabbits, go for the chest.
It’s a good zone to aim for with a shotgun, allowing the spread to take the rabbit across most of its body. If you have a rabbit call, use it wisely. The closer you get the rabbit to come to you, the better your shot placement will be.
If you prefer the headshot, aim directly behind the rabbit’s eye. If you’re using a shotgun, aiming just behind its nose will provide you with the best spread advantage, whether you’re using a 20-gauge or a .410.
Rabbits will scent you as effectively as a deer, so try to remain downwind of the approaching rabbit. Rabbits are very fast when spooked, and they run by stretching out their bodies to incredible lengths, sticking low to the ground as they go.
Rabbits can elongate their bodies and pass through fencing. Once it bolts, your chance of getting an accurate shot placement is slim and none. Ideally, you want to be as close as possible before you take your shot.
Best Weapon to Use
If you are looking for the best gun to hunt rabbits with, there’s no competition. A 20-gauge shotgun is easily the best, period. There will always be naysayers, of course, but saying the 20-gauge is not the best for hunting rabbits is like proclaiming the sky purple. To each their own.
It has more power than the .410 and gives you a spread shot advantage that you obviously can’t have with a .22 long round or a .22 revolver. Its only drawback is that it’s bigger and heavier than the other choices.
- .410 shotgun – great for beginner rabbit hunters. It’s lightweight, has low recoil, decent range, and is highly effective.
- 20-gauge shotgun – the most ideal firearm for rabbit hunting. It’s heavier than a .410 but has excellent range, plenty of power, moderate recoil, and is the most effective.
- .22 long rifle – Easiest of the bunch to fire. A .22 long rifle is a classic but requires timing and precision shots to the head or chest. It’s a low-recoil weapon and easily portable.
- .22 revolvers – You should really be an expert to wield one of these against rabbits. It’s small, low-recoil, and very portable, but has the weakest range and the weakest accuracy.
- 16-gauge – The 16-gauge is making a comeback, and it’s a fairly decent shotgun for rabbit hunting, so long as you’re not too close. It’s much more powerful than a 20-gauge and may be too much at close range.
- Air Rifle – An air rifle with a single pellet round is more than sufficient for killing a rabbit, but you need absolute precision and accuracy. With most air rifles, you only have one opportunity.
If you’re not using a shotgun, only a head or chest shot will do. Even with a shotgun, your aim should be at either the head (Just behind the mouth) or the chest. The spread from a .410, 20-gauge, or 16-gauge should take care of the rest.
As always, if you take down a rabbit with a shotgun, try to remove all the shot, and even if you think you got all of it, chew carefully. Young people lose teeth by biting into pellets. Rabbit hunting is one of the more exciting sports because of how easily spooked rabbits are.
They’re also incredibly fast. When they spook, you may as well hang it up for the day, at least with that rabbit. Consider purchasing a good rabbit call to up the ante, and remember to stick with the chest or head and rabbit stew for supper is all but assured.
Visit the OutdoorWorld Reviews homepage for more expert information including how to butcher a rabbit and how to tan a rabbit hide.
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