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Jackrabbit Hunting

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Author Jim Chapman

Airguns and Jackrabbits

We were bouncing down the washboard road, glassing the open expanse of the Mojave Desert for the telltale sight of jackrabbit ears standing out above the Cholla cactus which dotted the landscape. My son Jamie was standing up in the passenger side of the jeep with binoculars in hand, when suddenly he shouted “there, stop, stop”! Hitting the brakes I climbed up and peered over the windshield, making out the big desert hare sitting next to a stunted Joshua tree about 100 yards out. We grabbed our rifles and started the slow stalk towards our quarry, using the Joshua to landmark the rabbit’s position. At about 35 yards Jamie signaled for me to stop and slowly brought the Beeman C1 .177 carbine to his shoulder, settled in on his shot and squeezed the trigger. Standing off to his side I heard the crack of his gun and the “thump” of the hit. As I watched, a second rabbit dashed a few yards before freezing for a moment, and as he did I brought my Webley Raider up and let my own shot fly. The rabbit tumbled over and didn’t move. By midmorning the temperature was hitting 110 degrees, so we called it a day with six rabbits in the bag.


The typical landscape in the Nevada deserts where jackrabbit hunting is one of my favorite sports


Sometimes these big desert hares will hold tight as you hike by, at other times they'll bolt before you can get inside a couple hundred yards. It depends on the conditions and how much hunting pressure they've experienced (human and coyote).


Lining up the shot with a Crosman Discovery in .22. This is a great little gun for carrying through the desert; accurate, powerful, lots of shots per fill, and one of the lightest guns around.


The Patriot .25 is one of the great springers for jacks, hard hitting and it allows you to out quite a ways

Our favorite method of pursuit is to drive the dirt roads which thread the high desert while glassing, paying close attention to the base of cactus and scrub brush where the rabbits make their scrapes. The trick is to find a landmark then use the natural contours and cover to work your way into position. If the rabbit detects you he is usually gone in a flash, however they will sometimes stop for a quick look before they break or try to sneak around you, presenting a shot. In terms of guns; a flat shooting .177 will definitely work and we’ve used both springers and PCPs in this caliber with great success. I also really like a hard hitting .25 springer, and have had a lot of success with the Webley patriot and Walther Falcon on jackrabbits. Overall I think the .22 and .25 calibers fired through a PCP are a better option, as the high velocities of these guns allow for a flat shooting hard hitting combination that enables the hunter to accurately reach out a bit further. Heavy round nose pellets are my preference over hollowpoint and pointed projectiles for almost all hunting applications, as they are usually more accurate and offer a good combination of penetration and expansion. This is especially true when out after the big desert hare


The AirArms S410 FAC is one of the best hunting PCP on the market, I've taken this gun to Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and California to hunt desert bunnies


The Chinese B-50 again proves you don't have to spend much money to get into the field

Jackrabbits are one of the most challenging North American airgun quarries. They are wary animals, but in most of the Southwest their populations and concentrations are high, seasons are open year round, and there is an opportunity to get in a lot of shooting.

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