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Air Rifle Hunting 11/11/2012

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Well I didn't really plan to go out on Sunday, but since my hunting buddy didn't want to go try and fill his deer tag I decided Saturday night to brave the cold weather and head out to see if I could come home with something on Sunday.

I arrived at my spot at 5:31am to find that two of the spots I like to park at in the nearby area I hunt were filled with trucks. These were most likely deer hunters. Anyway, since I hate it when I park somewhere and find that someone else parks right next to me and heads right into the same spot I am, I decided to respect that they were there first and I moved on down the road to another spot I've hunted before and had a little success. When I got out of the truck around 5:50am it was a cool and brisk 21 degrees with a light 4 MPH wind. I had planned for the cold weather so I was plenty warm enough.

I must have walk around for close to 6 1/2 hours seeing only a few cottontail rabbits and a jack or two. I was dead tired, but I was also determined not to go home empty handed so I trudged on. It was a good thing I did because I ran across a covey of quail and scored a hit on one (no photo). I tried to get another, but I couldn't reload the Marauder .25 cal fast enough and they took off out of sight. I even tried using my quail call that I had been practicing and I didn't get any return calls. I looked around for a bit longer, but gave up on getting another quail for the time being.

With a quail in my bag my spirits arose a little. About 20 minutes later I spy a jack rabbit moving about. I stalked my way into a decent shooting lane and decided to take an offhand shot because the jacks always seem to bolt if you take to long to prep the shot. I ranged it at around 65 yards, lined up and fired. It sounded like a hit, but the jack moved about 3 feet and sat again. I was perplexed, so I lined up again and fired. I heard another hit, but the jack didn't move. So I aimed for the heart and lungs and fired. This time it went down and started spiraling around. So I ran up and put the jack down with a final shot. That was one tough jack. The most I've ever had to shoot one with is two shots. This big jack was a tough one!


Once I gutted it and put him in my pack with my quail I head off again with renewed energy. Another 10 minutes later I got an opportunity at a cottontail. It was about 35 yards away. So I lined up offhand and fired. It went down spinning so I ran over and put another shot in it to finish it off. Unfortunately the cottontail had spun itself into a Choalla cactus and I had to use my shooting sticks to pull the rabbit out and then I had to remove all the cactus thorns. Very time consuming!


Now I was tired, but feeling pretty good with a quail, a jack rabbit and a cottontail in my pack. At this point I decided to work my way back to the truck, which was a long, long way off at this point in time and it was around 2pm now. On the way back to the truck I spotted another opportunity at a cottontail. It stopped at around 25 yards out and I took a head shot offhand. Thwap! Down it went with one shot, just the way I like it. I prepped it and put it in the pack with the others.


At this point my back pack is starting to feel some weight, I'm dead beat tired and I've still got a long, long walk ahead of me... most of it being uphill. It must have taken me around 45 minutes to walk back to my truck with my lower legs and feet begging me to stop. It reminded me of the guys you see in movies walking through the desert as they start dropping items due to exhaustion. A few times I honestly contemplated setting my gun and pack in a bush where I could stop and pick it up when I drove back out. After a few seconds of contemplation I decided against that and I just kept on going until I could finally see my truck on the other side of a hill. Once I saw the truck I started to feel a little better knowing I would soon be able to get off of my feet. While I was putting my equipment in the truck a DF&G warden walked up on me. It really startled me because I could see movement out of the corner of my eye and I jumped a little in surprise. He apologized saying that he thought I had heard him drive up. I honestly didn't hear anything and he took me by complete surprise! I talked with him for a while, showed him my license and he went on his way. Seemed like a nice enough guy.

So to end this miniature novel... I was out there for around 9 hours plus and ran myself into the ground hiking around, but I didn't come home empty handed and I've got some meat in the refrigerator in brine to cook up this week (maybe some Jack Rabbit Birria :drool: . Good times :) .

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Nice Ray, looks like you turned around a bad start.

Thanks SJ. It did turn out pretty good after all. :)

Good story and nice perseverance! Those jacks can be tough critters.

Thanks T2TS. This one had to be the toughest Jack Rabbit I'd ever encountered. It honestly took 3 shots to put him on the ground and the fourth one to finish. Upon inspection while cleaning and prepping the jack last nigh it looked like the first shot went through the rib area and out the other side in front of the back leg because I found bone fragments at the exit wound. The second shot went through almost the same location but nicked the intermediate joint of the back leg, which explains why it didn't try to run off. The third shot went through the front of the chest, taking out the lungs and exiting out the back. That is when the rabbit dropped, but it was still kicking.

If it had been earlier in the day I'm sure the first shot would have taken the jack out, but because I was so exhausted already the crosshairs weren't as steady as usual. Oh well, after deer season is over I'll hopefully be able to park in my usual spot again. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Congrats. Air rifles are fun and challenging to hunt with.

Thanks Bennie. Yes, I would agree that Air Rifles are extremely fun, but can be very challenging to hunt with. I love hunting with my Marauders though because for the most part they are super quiet compared to my .22 Marlin.

Great story,

Nine hours is a looooong hunt to be sure, but you did very well.


Thanks Longboard. It was a long hunt and I was dog tired! The rabbits turned out good when I cooked them. I did the Jack Rabbit in a Creamy Basil Tomato Sauce and it was good. The Cottontails I seasoned and fried in the pan. Wow! With the seasonings I used I think it was the best Cottontail I've eaten yet!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, but I couldn't have learned to be a successful cottontail and jack rabbit hunter without the help of a few CPC members that gave me excellent advice when I first got into hunting and steered me in the right direction (I come from a non-hunting background). I owe much of my success to them... of course I have to say that I've also worked very hard at figuring out the habits and character traits of these critters and walked many, many miles until my feet were sore and legs were tired which has helped me to increase the percentage of my success too. :) I have to thank Shooter John, CrazyHorse and Bisley for allot of great advice. Thanks guys! :good:

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Then I should be opening my eyes -- and mind... err, brains -- to these sages of hunting.

You are lucky for having these mentors.

Yes, I bet the trial and errors and those aching leg muscles and worn out boots (had an evidence of this too myself) makes for good hunting lessons.

Looking forward to reading more of your hunting adventures.

ShooterJohn gave me a warm welcome to this forum.

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