Q&A: When can I hunt rabbits?

Chris Wheeler discusses when and where you can target rabbits when hunting with your airgun

Don’t hit the bunnies too hard if you want a steady flow of meat for the pot

Q. When can I hunt rabbits? Are they a quarry you can only target in specific seasons?

A. The Home Office describes rabbits as being in season from 1 January to 31 December, so the long and the short of it is that you can shoot rabbits year round. Rabbits do not hibernate, so they must eat during the cold months, but they tend to keep their forays to a minimum. Along with short days, this means that your opportunities to shoot will be few.

Rabbits are crepuscular (they prefer twilight): your best chance of a bag will be at dawn and dusk, which will mean around 7am and 4pm in the deep winter. That’s not much use if you have a job to go to. Night vision or lamping can help this, of course.

Breeding will stop around September, meaning that by spring the does will be of breeding age (around six months) and are likely to be pregnant by mid-February. With a gestation period of only around 30 days and the kits being weaned after only six weeks, rabbits can produce a litter of six kittens every five to seven weeks, so the first young worth putting on the table will be around in early May. Personally, I find shooting very young kits not to my taste, and the permissions I hold require control, not extermination.

My advice is to let them have the cold months, and do not over-shoot your permission if you want to put meat on the table.


This article originally appeared in the issue 108 of Airgun Shooter magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store: www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk

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