Shotgun Hunting with a Rabbit Hunting dog
Some times, you'll have to find a way to hunt in thick wooded areas or tall grass or crops. Using a rabbit hunting dog such a beagle or a spaniel to flush the rabbit while shotgun hunting is idea. This will give the rabbits nowhere to hide and will be much more affective then most methods of rabbiting.
In short, your dog runs the ground clearing bushes and tree lines while you carefully watch with your shotgun ready to pick off the rushing target. Although it sounds simple, it'll test any gunners aim and speed. As well as his dogs. Many say a true test of any dog trainer is if he has a good time hunting rabbits with a beagle.
This is a sport clearly reserved for those who have both a good shotgun and a well trained dog. Most shotgun hunters who shoot rabbit have a beagle or a English cocker spaniel. The dog must be obedient and respond to the gunners calls without delay or its next to useless. This is why most people have a beagle rabbit hunting dog.
The next step is to find a good place to go shooting in this manner and asking the land owner for permission. The best places are where the rabbits live almost entirely above ground, feeding between bushes and shrubs. Or in long maze or root crops. Its important the land owner knows exactly what the hunter is up to. Using rabbit hunting dogs is a fairly touché subject as it is. Throw a shotgun into the mix and its a health and safety nightmare.
How its Done
Rabbit hunting with dogs like this is normally done on nice mild days with a light wind. Its best to keep the wind hitting your face so it blows the sound and smell away from the rabbit, so its more likely to run towards the gun. With the gun ready to shoot, send the dog to flush, wait and follow the dog is needed. The true skill here is to be able to carefully pick shots and ensure you only ever shoot at a rabbit. Its highly important that your are 100% sure that what your shooting at is a bunny. If your not sure there's a chance you'll shot your dog, a passer by or the land owner.
The golden rule is don't pull the trigger unless your entirely sure its a rabbit. Ask the land owner if other people might use the woods. Like dog walkers or game keepers. It can't be stressed enough. If there are more then one person shooting (or out on the hunt), make sure that each person is happy with where the others are at all times. It goes without saying more guns will catch more, but the risk and danger go up dramatically with every person.
There are of course other risks involved. When using a rabbit hunting dog its illegal to use more then two and to kill next to anything but a rabbit. You also need to be aware of the risk of bullet ricochet. Avoid shooting towards trees, fences or any kind of stone. The last thing to think about is the risk of tripping and accidentally discharging your weapon. If your climbing a tree or fence make sure you break the gun first. Just to be sure.
Tips for Shotgun hunting With a Rabbit Hunting dog
• The best times to go shooting like this are in the late winter or the early spring. This way you avoid the tall crops and nasty stinging nettles.
• Let the dog do the hard work. Its called a rabbit hunting dog for a reason.
• Many will get away, its just a fact of life. Dont loose sight of other kills for the one that got away.
• Try and load between runs. Not much will anger you more then loosing a kill because of an unloaded gun.
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