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Old January 30, 2014, 05:20 PM   #1
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Snowshoe Hare, No Dogs

Just decided to start hunting them, they're all over the property, can't believe it took me this long to figure out I can hunt without worrying about ticks and while the woods are empty of others. I'll be using my 870, and #6 loads. Any advice? Thanks.
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Old January 30, 2014, 05:57 PM   #2
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I've read that you can spot them in the snow by looking for one of there black eyes. All we have is cottontails here in Maryland. If they circle back like cottontails do when being chased by beagles --- you can be the surrogate beagle --- by having your hunting partner stand in a strategic spot where you first jumped him, and you go baying/howling like a beagle while slowly following the hare's tracks; or just go baying around in circles if you don't have snow tracks.

I like to quarter and pan fry my rabbits lightly...then throw them in a pressure cooker for 40 minutes; for some fork tender rabbit. Same as I do for my squirrels
That rifle hanging on the wall of the working class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there."

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Old January 30, 2014, 07:42 PM   #3
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While they do have black eyes and black tips on their ears, they are still hard to spot in the woods. Late in the winter when their coat starts to yellow, they are easier to spot against fresh snow. On dirty/old snow they are tough. They are bigger than cottontails and don't taste like 'em when eaten. Some folks say they like ' not so much, but they are fun with a hound late in the year when nuttin' else is open.
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Old January 31, 2014, 09:58 AM   #4
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Best way to eat a hare - Slow cook it in the oven or crock pot with lots of onions, garlic and cream of mushroom soup!

Great on a cold winter weekend!

I shoot them when I see them. Tasty buggers, just tough as boot leather!
Go Pokes!
Go Rams!
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Old January 31, 2014, 05:32 PM   #5
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I've mostly hunted snowshoes behind beagles, but have on occasion had success without the pooches.

6 shot is about the perfect shot size. Use full or modified choke. If hunting with a partner, blaze orange vests are greatly advised.
And wear sunglasses or polarized lenses, even if it doesn't seem too bright outside.

I've never understood the "look for the eyes" theory. It seems to me that those that give that advice have never actually hunted anything

Without dogs, the trick for me is to move slowly and constantly change direction, even just for a few steps at a time. The hares will often freeze when they see you and wait for you to pass by. When you change direction, or even the direction you are facing, they get nervous and may break.

Take a few steps, stop, look, and wait a few minutes. Then repeat. If you just bump them, they usually won't go far. For this reason, choose your shots, taking only high percentage shots. If you blast at them they will take off for good. If you move too fast and pressure them they will go to ground and hole up.

Hunting snowies behind beagles with my borther is one of the best hunting experiences I have ever had. Hunting them without pooches could be close to the most challenging and frustrating.....but on a cold winter morning, with a shotguns in one hand and a hare held aloft in the other, there are few things more satisfying.

As for recipes, one word. STEW.
NRA Life Member, SAF contributor.
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Old January 31, 2014, 06:07 PM   #6
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^^^, Thanks Jo. Good advice. I plan to bring a buddy soon, blaze orange is a great tip.

Went out by myself this morning, sign everywhere, but no bunnies. It was great to be in the woods with a gun in hand and no tick worries.
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Old February 5, 2014, 08:52 AM   #7
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870 is going to tire you. If you could beg borrow or steal a single shot you would be better gun'ed for the hunt. I use a single shot 410 for my hunts. When the ground is covered with snow I find it pretty darn hard to see them unless I'm practically standing on em. One trick I do. During the summer months when I cut a little fire wood on my place. I purposely pile the limbs into brush piles. Than hunt them later on. Another trick. I'll walk the edges of a logged out clear cut. The fresher it was cut over the better. But you best find its owner before doing and ask for permission. Unless you know for sure its stumpage area that a logging company owns and no longer is actively working there.
My father was a great hunter of rabbits he could see them bunny's standing still in the brush 50-ft out in front of him in the snow. Same with partridge too. Many times we two would walk those old logging road in and around and all over the place. On our walk out back to civilization he'd set snares on a few hot runs crossing the road bed. Next day picking up those snares was my responsibility. {Not exactly the purest form of hunting but we always had rabbit in the house.} Just some old school tactics used years & years ago by those old timers. I hope you do well in your quest for the elusive bunny there.
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Old February 5, 2014, 09:20 AM   #8
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The 870 is heavy, a 410 is a good idea. I've been thinking about getting a gun to keep in the garage for quick access to deal with skunks and groundhogs. That might be my next purchase.

I'm very fortunate. I've got permission to hunt on about 70 acres that borders my property. Heavy snow right now, I'm heading out.
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Old February 5, 2014, 12:15 PM   #9
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I always used a .22 when hunting for Snowshoe Hares. The purpose was more for the "hunt" than having to bring them home and eat them. Without a dog, most shots will be @ a stationary target anyway. What I learned most from hunting Snowshoes is that when you find tracks, you find a lot of tracks and they are generally there and not far away. Most of the time they will be concentrated in small areas where they have found preferred food and there will be very few of them outside of that area. Old snow will tell you where they are most active and these are the areas I would concentrate on. Like cottontails, they'll hole up in heavy snow and you will be hard pressed to find any without a dog. Like cottontails, as soon as the weather clears they will be active and easier to find.
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Old February 5, 2014, 03:41 PM   #10
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Dad use to hunt rabbits with a Ruger Standard, he walked through the brush quietly and would shoot the sitting in the brush, and he did look for their eye to shoot at
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Old February 5, 2014, 03:51 PM   #11
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buck 460,well said.

If you use a dog,you'll have running shots,and a shotgun makes sense.

If you are still hunting(Take a few steps,look !!Take a few steps,look!Its like seeing asparagus,arrowheads,antlers,ears,etc.Your eyes get trained.Whatever works.
A good .22,hollow points and head or chest shots work well if you can see sitting hares.

For the pan,I have a preference for the 22 vs several shot pellets.

But,its all good,however you do it!!(Sometimes,at the edge of cover,they catch some sun)
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Old February 6, 2014, 09:14 AM   #12
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Up in Maine we use to use 22lr.
Once you jump a "rabbit" they don't
go far and set right up.
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Old February 6, 2014, 06:24 PM   #13
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I just posted a shotgun question in Dave's forum. The advice here has been great. I'm looking for a single action 20 now. I think I need more experience before I'm ready to use a 22.

Plus I had to break down my 870 after going out in heavy snow yesterday, hit it with my air compressor and some oil, but it's still drying out in pieces. And my only 22 is a 10/22.

I can say that rabbits do shelter down like deer during heavy snow, didn't even see a track. But a new activity that involves two of my favorite activities: hunting and snowshoeing has been a blast nonetheless. Thanks again for all the feedback.
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