View Full Version : Rabbit Hunt in AZ lessons learned

January 20, 2008, 10:07 PM
ok folks, just wanted to start out by saying that I am a South Dakota boy naturally, so I am used to about 2 feet of snow right now and temps hovering in the teens.

Well I have gone hunting in Arizona before (Ft. huachua area) for Deer earlier this past year (nov) and it was no difference today for my rabbit/quail hunt.

Temps were in the 50-60's and was a rather nice day. Went hunting on Ft. huachuca on a strip of land that had a creek bed with a few scraggly oak, tons of disperesed islands of mesquite bushes and a few cedars. The area is rocky with a few patches of sand here and there. Loads of deer sign everywhere (I Know where I am going deer hunting next year) and also loads of yote tracks (will be back monday evening for a yote hunt).

I brought along a mossberg 16ga bolt action shotgun that I picked up a few months ago and had never taken to the field (has the poly choke and the cutts compensator). I really didn't want to mess up my nice 1187 or citori by dragging through the brush and my 20ga bolt action was still getting refinished (I am refinishing an old stevens 20ga with 32" barrel which is my first gun ever owned).

After a few 100yards walking over the hills I was into the mesquite surrounding the creek bed. Almost out of nowhere I saw a flash of white and saw a glmpse of a pair of ear running towards a close by mesquite bush. I cussed at my self for not drawing a bead and pulled my head out of my rear mentally. I slowly made my way to the next island of mesquite bushes and was walking by where I saw the rabbit last and about 2 feet to the left the rabit busted through the dead grass and bounded over the "cliff" of rock and believe it or not landedabout 10 feet down and took off and ran into his hole.

I was super pissed missing a 2 feet shot (this would happen several more times before the day was over). I started to walk towards the creek bed and then another rabbit busted cover about 15yds away but was in really thick mesquite and I couldn't get a shot. I tracked him and them he busted into the open to make a run for another island of mesquite. this time i took a shot at should have it him, but stupid me I had the ply choke set to cyl and I was using no 6 shot so the pellets never made it to him. He was gone and I was pissed at myself. I racked the poly choke to full and said that would not happen again. I was walking back to the creek bed and I actually stepped on a quail (just like back north when the hen pheasants sit until the last minute). The other 4 quail broke out of the brush nearby and I was so occupied on stepping on the head of the one I just stepped on I didn't get a chance to take a shot at the others, but I did see where they landed. at this time I was wishing I had my lab that is still in south dakota to work the grass for the others. 1 shot fired, 2 missed rabbit and a quail killed by a no 11 hytec boot.

walked to the grassy area where the other quail were and was pushing the brush with a stick and hit a clump of brush and the quail brokeout and flew right into my face and could have hit them with my hand or stick, but just staggered back. Did get a shot off hand at one that was about 30 yards away, but missed. this time the flew over the road and onto a nearby firing range that was offlimits to hunting.

So the rabbit hunt continues. walked the creek bed som more and the stopped heard a bit of rustling to the right and turned to see a rabit running behind me to the right (i am a righty). I swiveled and fired and hit him in the hindquarters he kept on running but I had another round in the chamber by then and finished him off with a shot to the head at about 25 yards.

collected him and kept walking, saw a few more rabbits but all were in too thick cover or too far away. collected a nice set of 3x3 sheds from last year. on the way back saw antoher rabbit close to where I killed the other and I took a shot but missed him (too far away and in thick cover).

All of a sudden about 10 yards in front and to the right the brush exploded and a HUGE javelina started running right at me. I quickly looked around and saw nothing but mesquite bushes and grass. I racked another round into the chamber and drew a bead for his head (javelina are not in season, but if this toothy sucker was gonna attack me he was gonna die). At that point the HUGE javelina ( he was the size of a sheep dog or small german shepherd) and very fat realized that I had a gun and was not moving so he bolted to the left and ran for the hills at about the same instant I had started to pull the trigger. Luckinly I eased off the trigger and continued on my way. didn't see anything else the rest of the trek back, but learned some lessons

1. bring a 12 gauge with #4 shot when hunting in deep brush and a pump or semi auto would be good for the quick follow up shot and a full or mod choke is a must.

2 . the rabbits down here are small at best and match perfectly with the dead grass.

3. foreget hunting with a semi auto 22 in thick brush down here. save it for the nice open wooded areas of the mountains.

4. pick either to hunt quail or rabbits not both. because you wont have the right setup for either.

Anyway, 1 quail 1 rabbit and a good sunday afternoon.

January 21, 2008, 12:59 PM
nice, thanks for the ld

Bottom Gun
January 21, 2008, 08:49 PM
I'll bet that javelina never saw you. Their eyesight is terrible but they have a good nose and good ears.
Sometimes they will scent or hear you and when they panic and run, if you happen to be in their escape route, they may bump into you. If that happens, they may stop and rough you up out of fear. Loud noise like shouting or a shot will sometimes make them turn direction.

They aren't really mean animals and are not normally aggressive unless they think you are threatening their young, they feel threatened by your dog or they suspect you may have voted for John McCain.

Some of the people in Westgate and Lyle Canyon feed them so there are some around there which may walk right up to you looking for a handout.

While deer hunting, I've still hunted into the middle of a herd more than once while they were taking a siesta and didn't know they were there until they started getting up all around me and running in all directions after one sounded the alarm.
I've stood still when I've done that and they have run past me and once a young one ran several circles around me trying to figure out what was going on.

I usually use #6 shot. I found that works well on both birds and bunnies.

January 21, 2008, 10:49 PM
hey feel threatened by your dog or they suspect you may have voted for John McCain.

you can second that. I am a republican, but i can't make up my mind on ron paul or thompson.

sure as heck won't be mccain.

This was my first experience with Javelina. I did see a ton of crap left over from the illegals though. Suprised me because I was hunting on base. i made sure to tell my neighbors who are BP and they are increasing their patrols in that area. They freakin littered everywhere and my game pack was stuffed with the trash I picked up and I was pissed. If I would have seen one I might have whacked him over the head with my shotgun buttstock and made him pick up all the trash they left. :mad:

happy hunting.


Bottom Gun
January 21, 2008, 11:36 PM
If God had intended for us to vote, he would have given us candidates. . . . .

My first experience with javelina, over 30 years ago, was similar to yours. I had one trot toward me and I thought he was charging so I nailed him right between the eyes at about ten feet with my trusty Nylon 66 .22.
He dropped to one knee then got up and took off. That really freaked me out. I tracked him for a long time but never saw him again.
An old timer told me later the bullet may have just bounced right off his skull.

People don't realize just how badly wetbacks are trashing our country. They have been filling almost every draw and arroyo on Jim Pyeatt's ranch with their trash as well. It's sickening.
The Pyeatt's ranch is the large one right outside the West Gate.

That area is a known corridor for drug traffic in addition to the scores of "guest workers" coming through daily. I never had any trouble with them until recently. I have pulled out my gun on a couple of occasions in the last few years when I encountered groups in the National Forest who apparently wanted something I had.

For that reason, it might pay you to be armed while in the forest there. There is an abundance of lions there too although if a lion decides he wants you, there probably isn't much you can do about it.
The ranchers take care of a lot of the lions but it seems like new ones keep coming in to take their places. Last year they took three lions out of that area in a month. That is a lot of cats.

Thanks for picking up some of that trash.

Shoot well and shoot safely,


January 22, 2008, 10:53 AM
Maybe the lions are feeding on the "Un-invited Guests" :barf: Like coyote up North here. When the Rabbit Population increases the Coyote Population follows. As they eat all the Rabbits up the Population ebbs again. With few Coyotes around now the Rabbits rebound, and the Cycle begins anew.

Perhaps the Local Ranchers should be supporting the Lion Population. There is a good Natural Fence, and it will give the folks at PITA something to think about!:D

January 22, 2008, 11:01 AM
on another lion/bear related note.

I was up in carr canyon a few weeks ago and was hiking with the family. I came across several sets of bear tracks in the snow (didn't see any lion tracks though), at that point i was thinking I really need to get some of the bear mace. I know that they are probably not gonna come towards me, but you never know.

as far as the lions, I heard one scream last year when I was in huachuca canyon. it was probably a few hundred yards from me, but it made my hair stand up (have several big cats back in South dakota/nebraska where I am originally from and have had some run in's with them when bow hunting and we 'argued" over who's deer it was [they won both times]) :( .

Anyway, more cats would hopefully help thin the population of illegals hopefully. I have no problem with the mexican bears, wolves, and cats coming across the border as long as they do their part and thin the herd of 2 legged border jumpers. :p

Anyway, I just picked up another mossy 835 so I will be back in the mesquite brush for rabbits, yotes etc... next weekend.


Bottom Gun
January 23, 2008, 12:40 AM
There were quite a few bear around there a few years ago. The Fish Cops trapped some of the bears that were roughing up campers on Mt Lemmon and relocated them to the Huachucas. They figured about half of them made their way back to the Santa Catalinas and the ranchers once again took care of some of the ones that were left.

I see a cinamon color and a dark brown one occasionally in the Huachucas. In fact, on two occasions the dark one walked by within 50 yd of where I was target shooting with a .22 rifle. He came by both times while I was taking a break. I guess the noise wasn't enough to bother him because he stopped to watch for a few minutes.
The first time that happened, I had ridden my ATV out there and had nowhere to go so I picked up my AR and put the red ACOG donut on his head while we watched each other. He showed no sign aggression but showed no fear either. He watched for a while and soon went on about his business. Each time I have seen these bears, they have been using the same trail so they are obviously creatures of habit.

I mentioned how the dark one had acted when I spoke with my friend who does the animal control for Huachuca City PD and he said that was a bad thing. He said the bear should have shown much more fear and was afraid it was only a matter of time before the bear got into trouble with people. I hope that doesn't happen because the bears always lose when that happens. I think it's very neat to see bears around except when they decide to come through your camp.

There are quite a few turkeys in the Huachucas now as well. I see them regularly. Maybe we'll have a turkey season there soon.

Good luck with your hunting this weekend, Joe. FYI, there is an abundance of coyotes in the San Raphael Valley if you don't mind taking some long shots.

Shoot well and safely,


January 23, 2008, 01:08 AM
thanks for the heads up. I actually have a .243 set up for 500yds (could probably hit 700,but the scope is the limiting factor). Otherwise I could pull out one of the 1000 meter guns (couple 700 police and ltr's and a custom 700 in .338 Lapua mag).

Anyway, why waste good ammo on yotes, I got a T/C encore with a .204 ruger barrel I been itch'n to break in on yotes or p'dogs.


Bottom Gun
January 23, 2008, 09:21 AM
Anyway, why waste good ammo on yotes, I got a T/C encore with a .204 ruger barrel I been itch'n to break in on yotes or p'dogs.

Or illegal litterbugs?;)