Hunting The Jackrabbit Rut
Have you ever heard of the Jack Rabbit Rut?
It's the peak of the jackrabbit matting season. In California we have both Black-tailed Jackrabbits and White-tailed Jackrabbits. Black-tailed Jacks are the ones you see throughout the central valley and the high county all the way from extreme Northern California all the way through Mexico. They are everywhere and in good numbers. You will find White-tailed Jacks on the eastern side of the Sierras in the Modoc and Susanville areas down 395 into Reno all the way down the through the Owens Valley. These are the rabbits that will turn white during the winter and are often referred to as “Snowshoe Hares” But are not truly a “Snowshoe Hare” a White-Tailed Jackrabbit is significantly bigger than a true “Snowshoe Hare”. Snowshoe Hare Identification
Generally speaking, Jackrabbits have been known to breed all year round but their primary mating season is from about February through June with the peak of the season or the “Peak of the Jackrabbit Rut” running from late April through May with April really being the Peak.
I know it sounds funny to hear that jackrabbits have a rutting period, but it is true. In April throughout the central valley and the desert regions and in the orchards of southern California, you will find jackrabbits running and chasing and fighting all day long but more so in the early morning and late evening.
Funny as it sounds to hear of a “Jackrabbit Rut” it's even more fun to hunt them during this time. Not only can you just walk around and hunt them, but you can even sit tight and call them with a standard wounded rabbit predator call. This is because the males fight like crazy, and they make grunting and grinding sounds along with a terrible deep growly squeal. It sounds terrible but that’s what they do. If you decide to call them with any luck you will call in a coyote looking for a free meal and you will get a two for one.
Places to hunt them are endless and usually you can find them around any agricultural area, especially hayfields and orchards. Cattle country and anywhere there is open space. The foothills around the national forests BLM lands and any wide-open space. They are primarily an early morning or late evening animal and will be out mating and fighting all night long.
In Southern California check your Onxmaps for open areas of public land around the Las Padres National Forest, the Cuyama Valley and the foothills around the Bakersfield Fresno and Tulare areas. If you can get up to Owens Valley, you will find them by the truck load, and this goes for all the foothills in Southern California as well.
It goes the same for Northern California checking your Onxmaps for open areas around Modoc, Susanville, Yreka and especially the valley between Colusa south past Sacramento all the way to Fresno.
Jackrabbits are not really great eating, but you can make them edible if you try hard enough. They do make great food for your hunting dogs, just clean them, and cook them as you would any other rabbit or chicken and then strip the meat off the bones and give the meat to your dog. I would not suggest giving them to your dog raw or uncooked. They have been known to carry parasites so cooking them thoroughly is recommended.
Enjoy your hunt.