10 Tips to Hunt Cottontail Rabbits

Have you always thought about hunting cottontail rabbits but really didn’t know how to do it?  Would you like to learn how to hunt cottontail rabbits? Cottontail rabbits are elusive, fast, and difficult to locate. This makes it even more challenging when hunting them. In this article, we share tips and tricks on how to hunt cottontail rabbits.

1.  State Laws

Always learn the laws in the state you want to hunt cottontail rabbits to be certain that you are not doing anything illegal. Hunting laws change and even if you are aware of them, always research them and make sure that you are aware of any updates to the laws regarding hunting rabbits before you begin hunting them.

2.  Scouting Cottontail Rabbits

Like hunting any game animals, you want to scout the area for signs that cottontail rabbits are in the area you want to hunt. Look for signs of their activities.  Look for fallen trees, dilapidated and unused barns, overgrown homesteads, brush piles, thorn tangles, briars, etc. These are used by rabbits as sanctuaries to live and protect them from predators.

Additionally, keep your eyes open for rabbit droppings, tracks, and trails.  If you find droppings, tracks, trails, or tunnels close to brush piles or heavy cover, you may be in the right area and close to rabbit territory. Scout for cottontail rabbits early in the morning and late in the evening as this is the time that they are most active.

3. Teeth Marks

When hunting for cottontail rabbits, look for teeth marks on plants. They eat plants, the bark of trees, and will chew twigs and stems at sharp angles. If you spot teeth marks on plants, that is a good sign that cottontail rabbits are in the area and close by.

4. Zig-Zagging Rabbits

When you spot a cottontail rabbit and before you can take a shot it darts off, zig-zagging as it leaves you behind, don’t throw in the towel. Continue to watch it and be ready to take a quick aim when it stops. Cottontail rabbits have the tendency to run off and after putting some distance between you and it, it will stop to assess if the danger is still present or no longer present. This is the opportunity to take a quick shot to take it down.

5. Look For Black Eyes & Pinkish Ears

One cunning trick that rabbit hunters use effectively is to look for black eyes and pinkish ears when they are hunting for cottontail rabbits. It is funny how you will start to spot the black eyes and pinkish ears in a field when you start to look for them. You will begin to pick out cottontail rabbits beneath trees and rock ledges. Always be prepared to take a quick shot when you spot the eyes and ears of cottontail rabbits.

6.  Snowy Days

After a heavy night of snow, it is always a good time to get out and hunt for cottontail rabbits. The snow will help you easily spot tracks, and droppings. The tracks can lead you to their cover if you take some time to study them. Study the tracks to see where they are coming from and where they are leading to.

While tracking the tracks in the snow, if they suddenly disappear into thick cover, it is most likely that the rabbits are in the thick cover. Getting out after a heavy night of snow not only increases the chances of finding rabbits, but you might see the tracks of other animals that you also hunt.

7. Chat With Farmers Nearby

Identify farms near the area you hunt for cottontail rabbits and befriend and chat with them.  Farmers will have a lot of information on many animals you hunt that are nearby and come onto their farms seeking food. They know where these cottontail rabbits take refuge and will give you information as it is in their interest if you hunt down these rabbits and other animals that are a nuisance to their crops.

8.  Kicking Up Rabbits

There is a hunting technique used by rabbits hunters to flush them out of tall grass, downed trees, and thick vegetation. Cottontail rabbits can easily be unnerved. Walk slowly in a field and then stop for about a minute. This gets them on edge as they really think that you are on top of them and it is just a matter of time before you get to them. They won’t remain in their hiding positions very long. The cottontail rabbits will decide to escape instead of being found.

Repeat this slow walk and stop sequence a few times and they will flush themselves out of the area. It is best to do this with hunting partners. While you walk and stop, there should be another hunter waiting to shoot when the rabbits decide to escape. This can be an effective way of hunting cottontail rabbits.

9. Jump & Circle Maneuver

Rabbits have a tendency not to go very far from their home area when they are flushed by hunters or hunting dogs. They usually run off, put some distance between you and them, then stop and wait. If the pursuers get too close to them again, they continue to put distance between them and their pursuers.

Rabbits will unconsciously run off and find themselves circling back to their home area. They will run off up until 100 yards and naturally circle back home. With this knowledge, you can find a spot close to their home area and wait for them to come back.

10. Hunting with Dogs

Dogs can be used to help you hunt cottontail rabbits. When the dogs pick up the scent of the rabbits, they will be on their trail. This will unnerve the rabbits and give you a good opportunity to take them down.


Hunting cottontail rabbits is challenging yet rewarding as they are fast, elusive and difficult to find as they protect themselves from aerial and land predators. In this article, we shared tips and trick to help you be successful hunting cottontail rabbits. If you would also like to learn how to hunt jackrabbits, then read this article.

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