Small game hunting provides endless hours of enjoyment to sportsmen of all ages. There is nothing quite like the challenge and joy of being able to track and successfully harvest wild game that is optimized to hide, run, and remain elusive under almost any condition. In the world of small game hunting, rabbits make some of the best sport and in Mississippi, they are abundant.
Wild Rabbits 101
In the Magnolia state, there are at least two different types of rabbit found naturally in the wild. These are the 4-6 pound canecutter (sometimes called the swamp rabbit) and the smaller 2-pound cottontail. While they have the same traditional characteristics of any bunny, it’s the markings and coloration that sets them apart. Canecutters, besides being larger, have shorter and more rounded ears and dark colored feet. Cottontails have longer and more pronounced ears, light colored feet, and a rusty patch of fur on their collar. While they used to be over abundant, land cultivation and modern pest control has cut back on their numbers. However, they are still in good supply if you know where to look.
Tips and Tricks
Keep in mind that rabbit are pure herbivores set low to the ground. With that information, be on the lookout for rabbit activity in areas with an abundance of short green leafy plants, clover, and high grass. If you are interested in volume talk to your local soybean, crowder pea, and snap bean farmers who often see bunnies in droves in their fields and are anxious to be rid of them. Like many leaf eaters, wild rabbits are most active at night, which means that the best time to catch them out and about is near sunrise and set. MDWFP allows shooting of these furry thumpers from one half hour before sunrise and one half hour after sunset so take advantage of that golden time to fill the pot.
Most hunters find that small rimfire .22LR rounds from rifles and handguns are very effective on Mississippi rabbits. CCI Mini-Mags tend to sell out at local sporting goods stores all winter as do the lighter CB loads. There is even a subset of bunny snipers who limit out with high-powered pellet rifles loaded with premium hunting pellets. While shotguns, especially.410s and 20-gauges are extremely effective, they tend to damage a lot of the meat.
Rabbit hunting in Mississippi falls squarely under the ‘small game’ arena. This means that any hunter with either a valid state-issued ‘Sportsman’, ‘All Game’, or a ‘Small Game’ permit is good to go. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks typically sets the season on rabbit from mid-October through the end of February which means basically if its chilly outside, then its bunnies are probably in season. Of course, be sure to double-check your local opening dates to stay legal. The daily bag limit per hunter is eight wild flop ears, which translates into a nice little haul. A good size rabbit makes a delicious family meal and the extras can be stored in the freezer for months.
In addition, eight bunnies will give you 32 rabbit’s feet, which has to be lucky in someone’s book.
Unless you are the rabbit.