Rabbit Hunting: A Sickeness that is Going, Going, and Almost Gone

By Joe Miele, President of C.A.S.H.

When most people think about hunting the first thought that comes to mind is deer. Hunting agencies have convinced people that the mere sight of a deer is proof of an overpopulation crisis that is causing them to starve to death, eat the forest into a barren wasteland (did you catch the contradiction there?), spread Lyme disease, cause car accidents, and do everything short of bringing on WWIII and orchestrating suicide bombings. Being easily led, the general public reluctantly believes that “something must be done” about the deer population and accepts, albeit reluctantly, hunters coming in to kill the animals. Even though we know that management for hunting is responsible for all the things they blame on the deer, it does not stop them from making outrageous claims.

As we know, deer are not the only animals hunters kill. Hunters kill birds, such as doves, crows, geese, and quail by the millions. They also kill millions of raccoons, opossums, foxes, and squirrels without giving it a second thought. Rabbits too are a favorite target of hunters; although some may like to eat them, more just enjoy killing them. One of the things they like best about rabbit hunting is how it is often a gateway for children to killing other species.

Hunting is declining in popularity all across the United States, and small game hunting is showing perhaps the quickest decline. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the 1.5 million rabbit hunters in 2011 (the most recent date a national survey was released – the next is due in 2016), reflects a 62.5 percent decline in the popularity of rabbit hunting in just 20 years (there were 4-million rabbit hunters in 1991). On a more local level, the decline of rabbit hunting in Michigan is shocking to hunting interests. According to the state Department of Natural Resources, only 56,000 Michigan hunters killed rabbits in recent years – a number that pales next to surveys from the 1970’s that showed rabbit hunters numbering over 400,000.

Because the sport is in such sad shape, state hunting agencies are pushing rabbit hunting as a way to get children involved in the blood sports. Rabbit hunting they say is an ideal way to start brainwashing children because they don’t need a large or powerful gun to kill a small rabbit.

They also don’t need a hunting license to kill them in many states because rabbits are a nongame species and are not “protected” by an off-season. There’s no shortage of rifles or shotguns weighing less than 10-lbs., and many weigh less than 8 lbs. Additionally, it is a pretty simple and uncomplicated form of hunting – just take a quiet walk where you find rabbits and bring a couple of beagles with you (more on that later) and you’ll be sure to unload your gun on a vicious man-eating rabbit, the kind that brings fear to the hearts of every Monty Python fan.

Hunters can easily kill rabbits because when the small animals run from danger, they will circle around and head back to the small area they call home. All that a hunter needs to do is frighten a rabbit into running off and then wait for him or her to come back. There is no need for blinds or stands, and no need for CIA-grade camouflage. You don’t have to go out at the crack of dawn, and you don’t need to spend a fortune on hunting equipment. As one hunter said on a rabbit hunting forum, “Just find the rabbits, and the fun comes naturally.”
Long netting is another way rabbits are hunted. Nets are set up across a field and rabbits are chased into them. The terror experienced by these animals is of no concern to the twisted mind of a rabbit hunter, as it’s all about the fun of killing animals and the satisfaction of destroying young minds and hearts and turning them into blood-thirsty monsters just as they themselves have been destroyed by their parents, grandparents and mentors.

Extremely out-of-shape hunters who are too lazy to walk around looking for bunnies often use beagles to do the work for them, and as you can imagine the process of training a dog to hunt rabbits with you is often as disgusting as hunting itself.

Beagles are among the most popular hunting dogs, and like children they are best trained when young. [In addition to the carnage they cause by hunting, hunters contribute to the needless killing of dogs all across the country by purchasing beagle puppies from breeders instead of adopting them from the shelter. Thousands of beagle breeders are all too happy to farm puppies to satisfy the demand of hunters, who have been known to abandon their dogs in the woods, leaving them to starve when they are no longer good hunting companions. No, hunter, we don’t make this up.

Hunters train beagle puppies to track scent, flush, chase, and retrieve rabbits during a hunt.

After training a dog with basic commands such as “sit” and “stay,” puppies are introduced to a rabbit’s scent by the trainer dragging a piece of meat (or a dead rabbit) around the yard and having the pup follow it. Doing this prepares the puppy to track live rabbits, and here’s where the cruelty really begins.

Training websites suggest that puppies first be introduced to a tame rabbit by putting them both inside an enclosure. Hunting dog trainers suggest letting the dog sniff the rabbit while holding the rabbit by the scruff, and then the dog is encouraged to chase the rabbit as if she were a living toy. Another method suggested by hunting dog trainers is to tie up the puppy having him watch you chase the rabbit around the enclosure. “The puppy should become excited and try to break from the leash” if you’re doing it right, says one trainer.

The puppy should chase the rabbits around the pen for 2-3 hours every other day so they get good at torturing the poor creature. The rabbit should be run to exhaustion, at which time heaps of praise should be given to the pup who is being taught that torture is fun.

Once trained the dog is taken afield with the hunter and is set loose to sniff around and chase any unfortunate rabbit who happens to be in the area. As the rabbit is flushed the dog can be called back while the hunter sits and waits for the rabbit to circle. Once shot and killed, the dog retrieves the rabbit (to minimize any effort expended by the lazy hunter) and then the hunter has the fun of “cleaning” them. Hunters encourage children to do this part as it is a sure way to destroy any feelings of empathy they may have left, since that’s a requirement for creating a life-long hunter. Here’s the method of cleaning that “Jesse” in Wisconsin suggests [WARNING – GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION]: “An easy way to gut a rabbit is to first step on their head, and pull up on the hind legs to pull the head off. Second step is to start at the hind legs, and pull the hide down. Third, just follow up with pulling the insides out. It’s simple, quick, and clean!” And so much fun, I may add.
What hunters may or may not realize is that killing rabbits causes coyotes, bobcats, and other predators to expand their range looking for food. This puts them in greater contact with humans, and it also gives the hunters an excuse to kill coyotes and bobcats and continue the bloody cycle of killing everything that moves.  Make no mistake; everything done by hunters is undertaken with one goal in mind – to maximize the amount of hunting opportunities available to them at any time of the year.

All of this is needlessly violent and unnecessary, given the plethora of humane rabbit control options that are available for every imaginable application. In addition to commercial rabbit repellents which can be purchased at any garden center or greenhouse, planting and growing herbs such as thyme, lavender, mint, and oregano will help deter rabbits from munching through a garden. Because rabbits have very strong senses, the smell and taste of garlic and chili peppers are commonly used to keep unwanted rabbits away. Rabbits also turn away from the taste of soapy water, which can be sprayed on plants with no harmful effects. A mixture of water, crushed garlic, cayenne pepper and dish soap is a very effective rabbit deterrent, and it is humane as well (as long as you’re using dish soap that has not been tested on animals).

Rabbit hunting is unneeded, sadistic, and violent. Thankfully the killing of small helpless animals such as rabbits is on the decline nationwide and by exposing the truth about this violent sport we’ll keep pounding more nails into the coffin of recreational hunting.

“Miele, you’re off your rocker. Where do you get this garbage from?”

Lest any hunters spying on the Courier believe that we’ve taken our information from anti-hunting and animal rights websites, the sources for the information in this article are all pro-hunting: Outdoor Life; Gun Dog magazine; beaglesunlimited.com; Georgia Outdoor News; Field & Stream; the Pennsylvania Game Commission (one of our favorite sources for anti-hunting info); American Cooner; Ducks Unlimited; how-to-hunt-rabbit.com; and basspro.com. Not a single “anti” source out of the bunch.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561