Don’t overlook small game

I know big game’s the big draw around these parts, and upland birds and waterfowl aren’t far behind. Not many people spend a whole lot of time hunting small game.

The rabbit populations in the state are going crazy. I have a degree in zoology, so I feel I’m qualified to estimate the number of cottontails hopping around Wyoming. My best estimate is zillions.

OK, so maybe my methods for determining the rabbit numbers aren’t exactly scientific. But there are a lot of ‘em. There were a lot last year, and I expected the populations to crash this summer.

They didn’t. There are even more of ‘em this fall.

That’s great news for hunters. You don’t have to go far to hunt rabbits this year. Some folks don’t even have to step out of their own yards. And with a daily limit of 10 and a possession limit of 20, if you have two licensed hunters in your household, you can have 40 cottontails in the freezer between the two of you. If there are three people in the house with licenses, that works out to 60 rabbits. With four hunters, you’ll need to buy another freezer.

It may not be elk meat, but in terms of volume, you could have almost the same amount of wild game meat if you take a few rabbit hunting trips this year.

But the meat isn’t the only good thing about rabbit hunting. First of all, it’s relatively easy. As I said, you probably don’t have to go far. When you get to where you want to hunt, you don’t have to walk yourself into the ground. I’ve often limited out on cottontails before I’ve walked a mile.

Another benefit is that packing rabbits out is a whole lot easier than packing out big game. It’s also good practice. If you’re a crack shot, you’ll get 10 chances to pull the trigger on a rabbit hunt. If you don’t hit every time you shoot, you’ll get even more shots. The gun you use shouldn’t be a big mule-kicker, so you won’t develop a flinch.

With all this going for it, a rabbit hunt’s the perfect way to introduce a youngster to hunting. They’ll have a good chance for success, they’ll get to shoot several times, and they’ll be rewarded with good fun and good meat.

Go after rabbits this year. We might not see another rabbit season this good for a while.