Few small game pieces are as complete and give the hunter as much play and satisfaction as the elusive and cunning rabbit that, especially when hunting by hand or jumping, usually has to be thrown at the sight. This characteristic determines the type of weapon and cartridge to use. Visit IBC7 Outdoors for best hunting gears.
I remember that when I was a child my father explained to me that, unlike the hare, the rabbit was a rogue (in the cunning sense) that only jumped when you stepped on it and that you had to expect him to escape the most dirty so I shouldn’t leave a bush without registering or lowering my guard if I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to shoot him.
At that time I was 14 years old and we usually hunted without a dog, which was not a big problem for us because there were so many rabbits that it was rare in the morning or afternoon that we did not each shoot a dozen.
However, he charged very few, sometimes none, or with great luck 2 or 3, and not precisely for not paying attention to my father, because he tried not to let his guard down and searched the land well.
The problem was the 12-gauge Ugartechea that I used, too powerful, heavy and long for my age and with too closed chokes (2 and 1 stars) to hunt rabbits at tenazón, so it did not noticeably improve my hit rate up to two years later when I traded it for a Beretta A300 with 3-star fixed choke, with which I could face faster and better.
THE STOCK IS NOT ONLY THE ONE THAT KILLS
It has always been said that “the butt is the one that kills”, in the sense that if it is too long, short, or for any reason it is uncomfortable when facing, it is responsible for the failure of many more shots than with another shotgun or with the same but with a stock with measures more appropriate to ours.
And it’s true, but the stock is not the only factor that determines the success or that we miss a shot, especially if it is tenacious.It influences the entire design of the weapon, all its measurements and, of course, its weight and balance, so that if when facing and shooting we are not totally comfortable because, for example, it is poorly balanced, the handguard is uncomfortable or because its barrel is too long or short, we will not shoot well even if its stock has the correct measurements.
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The same happens if it is heavier or lighter than necessary depending on our physical conditions and the modality we practice, because if it is too heavy at the beginning of the day we will not notice the weight but in the end we will be more tired and we will not be able to face fast.
And if it is very light (and on top of that we practice a modality in which many shots are fired, which does not usually happen in the case of rabbit hunting), it will decrease our hit rate also because the recoil will prevent us from repeating the shot quickly. or it will even end up hurting us.
WHAT MUST BE THE RIGHT WEIGHT TO HUNT THE RABBIT TO THE JUMP?
Well, it is a question that does not have a single answer since it depends on the age, size and physical condition of the hunter, not only on the modality, so the same shotgun model can be heavy for some people and have a suitable weight for others.
I can only tell you that the weight of the shotgun, as its measurements, must be chosen by the hunter based on his needs and physical condition; that it is an especially important aspect for people who are very young or very old and that today does not represent any problem because, thanks to the use of synthetic materials, modern weapons of the same type are manufactured with very different weights.
For example, in caliber 12 they range from just over 2.8 kilograms (lighter or almost the classic juxtapositions of 20) to about 3.3 kilograms, which was not the case before because all the pieces of the weapons were made of steel and wood. . It is a matter of choosing the one that suits us best.
Anyway, to give a general answer to this question, I think that in the case of an adult person and to hunt by hand, it is neither necessary nor advantageous to use modern weapons weighing more than 3.0-3.1 kilograms.
THE RIGHT SHOTGUNS AND GAUGES FOR THE RABBIT
Always taking into account what was said in the previous section about the ergonomic characteristics of the weapon, for hunting rabbits any type of double-barreled or semi-automatic hunting shotgun gives good results, provided that they do not use (or have) very closed chokes because the rabbit normally it is not thrown away, quite the opposite, and we are interested in opening the shot to avoid missing it.And also, of course, if we want to take advantage of its meat, so as not to destroy it.
In addition to the 12 caliber, the 16, 20 and even smaller calibers can be used if hunting in the summer or with a ferret, but the smallest cannot compete with the 12 or 20 in variety of ammunition or effective range (for lack of plumb density) in case of having to make a long shot, so I cannot recommend them ‘officially’ in an article of this nature.
However, ‘under the rope’ and ‘without anyone knowing’, I will tell you that from time to time I use an Aya from 28-70 with 2 and 1 star chokes and cartridges of 18 and 21 grams of pellets from 8 and 7 since, if it is a ‘joy’ to hunt in summer with such a manageable shotgun, let alone the satisfaction that collecting a rabbit or any other piece with it gives you.The 16’s weapons are much more manageable compared to the 12’s, but this caliber cannot compete with the variety of modern shotgun types or cartridges that are made for the 12-70 and 20-70mm either.
With few exceptions, such as the modern Browning A5 ONE semi-automatic shotgun, which is offered in 16-70 caliber, it is normal that in the armories we only find old second-hand juxtaposed, as well as a very scarce variety of cartridges; Of course, fortunately almost always loaded with 28 grams of 7 shot, which is a load and number of shot more than enough to collect rabbits (and most small game species).
CHOKES AND LOADS SUITABLE FOR HUNTING RABBITS
As the supply of ammunition of sizes 16 and smaller of 20 is so limited that if the hunter chooses to use them he cannot choose but to buy what he finds, in this section we will only focus on the loads and chokes suitable for hunting the rabbit with sizes 12 and 20.
Although the shotgun of the 12 or 20 that we use, if it is modern, surely has 76 mm chambers, with neither of these two calibers is it convenient nor does it make sense to use magnum cartridges because it is too powerful. Cartridges with 70mm maximum sheaths must be used.
WITH THE 12 GAUGE
The 32-gram loads of 8 and 7 buckshot are ideal for collecting rabbits in the summer (in the ‘shed’). At this time, with the semi-automatic ones, the most suitable choke is the 4-star one, although the 3-star choke can also be used, especially if we use the finest shot.With the double-barreled one the best combination would be the 4-star in the first shot and 3 in the second.
In winter, while practicing general hunting (and when hunting in areas with a lot of scrub), the 34 grams of 6 with the 3-star choke also provide very good results, in the case of using a semi-automatic; and 3 and 2 stars in the first and second shot in those with two guns; or even 3 and 1 if we expect other pieces, such as partridges, to stand up very long.
And with ferrets, since they are always shot very close, light hunting loads (30-32 grams maximum) of 8 or 9 shot and 4-star choke should be used in semi-automatic or the combination of cylindrical and 4-star in the two-barreled ones.
WITH CALIBER 20
It is more than enough the cartridges of 28 grams of pellets of the 8 or 7 although, yes, always using a lower degree of choke with respect to 12 to compensate for the lower plumb density with respect to the loads of 32 and 34 grams of the 12; or, when possible, the finest buckshot we have recommended for 12.
For semi-automatic: 3-star chokes in summer, 2 in winter (or with a lot of scrub) and 4 stars for hunting with ferrets.With a double-barreled weapon: the combinations of 3 and 2 for summer, and 2 and 1 in general hunting (or with a lot of scrub). With ferret, since we shoot very close, the combination of cylindrical and 4 stars recommended for 12 is also suitable, especially if we use cartridges for the first shot.