Killing Rabbit:
The Best Methods for a Fast and Humane Dispatch

Whether hunting or putting down a pet, killing rabbit is all about giving a quick and painless death. A clean and humane kill is easy to achieve and is your legal responsibility. Simply put, there is no reason to cause suffering or pain.

Some rabbits that have been cleanly killed with blunt impacts to the head

A shot to the head will cause an instant death. It will kill the rabbit before it even knows what has happened. But it goes without saying that this isn’t an option for many situations. There are three ‘manual’ methods which can be used any where, on the spot, that anyone can do. They are the neck break (also know as chinning), clubbing the head and a blunt impact to the head. Be warned, I will talk about killing rabbit in a blunt way and it might shock you.

How to Break a Rabbits Neck

Possibly the most popular rabbit killing method for hunters, chinning offers a simple and fast kill. Many people are worried when chinning for the first time, but don’t be. It’s really simple. Simply hold the rabbits back legs (in your strong hand) and place your other hand around the rabbit’s neck. Press your thumb into the back of the rabbit’s neck and rap your fingers around its ‘chin’ area. Like your making an ok symbol with your hand but with your fingers closed.

The ‘ok’ shaped neck grip used for breaking a rabbits neck (Chinning)

Once you have a solid grip, pull the legs with your strong hand, push your thumb down and pull the chin up as quickly and firmly as you can. While doing this, you want to bend the rabbits back in a whipping motion. This stretches the rabbits neck and then bends it. You should hear a popping or cracking sound. Give the legs and head a few good pulls just to be sure. Killing rabbit is as easy as that.

The Advantages of the Neck Break

Chinning is fast and silent. It doesn’t need any equipment or special conditions. But most of all, it is the most discrete and ‘clean’ method. It is also the fastest once mastered.

The Disadvantages of the Neck Break

When the neck bone breaks it can tear the meat around the neck, meaning that the meat might be covered in blood once it’s skinned. But more importantly, the brain is still active for about 15 seconds after the break(or so the scientists say). No one knows if these means the animal is feeling pain, but it makes you wonder.

How to Club a Rabbit

Killing rabbit by clubbing it to death might sound cruel, but in reality it is possibly the most humane method other then the lethal injection. One good blow to the head will kill the brain (or at very least knock it out) and the second will seal the deal for sure.

You can buy clubs (also know as beaters) from specialty shops but a homemade one is just as good. You can simply saw off a tree branch (horn thorn, willow and oak are best) and cut it to shape. Hell you can even use items from around the house like a heavy metal bar or even a table leg as long as it’s solid and heavy enough. The best clubs will have a heavier head then handle, like a hammer.

Killing rabbit with a club is as simple as it sounds. Just give two or three heavy blows to the top of the rabbits head. I find it easiest if you hold the rabbit just behind its front legs and tuck its back legs under your arm so its head is facing outwards. Don’t be scared with making your first strike, it should be the strongest. If you don’t hear a clear cracking sound make sure to hit harder the next time.

A Rabbit that has been clubbed to death, notice how clean it looks.   Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mistagregory/4360169473

The Advantages of Clubbing

Clubbing causes instant brain death, meaning it’s painless. Unlike chinning, the rabbit doesn’t have to be untangled from the net. It also keeps the meat clean from blood and is the easiest manual dispatch method to master.

The Disadvantages of Clubbing

Clubbing rabbit looks as brutal as it sounds and will most likely shock any bystanders. The rabbit will twitch and kick from natural nerve reactions making it look like the animal is suffering. It will most likely cause the rabbits ears, mouth or even eyes to bleed and can this clan splatter after the first hit. Another downside to clubbing is that it requires that you have (and carry) a beater with you.

How to Kill a rabbit with Blunt Impact

Similar to clubbing, blunt impact is killing rabbit with a sharp blow to the back of the head. This is achieved by swinging the animal so its head hits a solid object (a tree trunk, a large rock, the steel toe in your boot etc) causing instant death. I know it sounds like a caveman’s method, but it is highly effective.

Hold the rabbits back legs in one hand and its waist (just in front of the back legs) in the other. Swing the back of the rabbits head towards a tree, a fence post or whatever is solid and sturdy. If done with the correct amount of force the rabbit’s skull will crush and cause instant death. If you wear steel toed boots you can point your toe up for the perfect impact point where ever you are.

The Advantages of Blunt Impact Killing

Because of the extreme impact to the animal’s skull and brain, death is almost certain on the first impact and it is instant. No pain what so ever is felt. Using this method also means you have no need to carry a beater but are restricted to what you can hit the animal on. This method is best used with the neck breaking method.

The Disadvantages of Blunt Impact Killing

Think of all the shocked faces looking in horror at their pc screens when I said “swinging the animal so its head hits a solid object”. This method looks brutal (despite being incredibility humane) and is also very messy. Its likely blood will fly from the rabbits eyes, ears and mouth and its possible that the rabbits eye will cut open. Save this rabbit killing method for when no one is watching!

It also goes without saying that you need something to hit the rabbit on and that the impact can make a loud bang (Making this method less then ideal for ferreting). I would strongly suggest that this method is used but only when killing rabbit with a neck break isn't possible.


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