Rabbits and hares are fun to hunt and one more way to enjoy Alberta’s great outdoors, year-round. They are meaty animals and make delicious table fare. Plus they provide consistent opportunity, a nice bonus during or after bird and big game seasons.
Who can hunt rabbits?
In Alberta, you can harvest rabbits and hares at any time of year, without a special licence requirement or limit.
What kind of rabbits can I hunt?
Alberta has snowshoe hares, Nuttall's cottontail, and white-tailed jackrabbits. All are good-eating small game animals.
Where can I find them?
Check out the foothills, parkland and boreal regions of Alberta—all common hare hangouts. Cottontails are a prairie species, and jackrabbits know what’s good, staying within prairie and parkland regions near agriculture. Looking for a place to hunt? Find a Conservation Site near you at www.albertadiscoverguide.com or download the Alberta Outdoor Adventure Guide app.
What is their hunting season?
All year! Rabbits and hares can be hunted in any season across Alberta.
How do I hunt them?
It’s best to venture out on foot (snowshoes in the winter!) to track down hares in larger tracts of habitat. A dog can help too, flushing them from cover. Without a dog, snow can be your best friend, as it quickly reveals whether you're looking in the right spot or not. Hares tend to use the same travel trails and finding tracks means they are close by.
Try this: have a friend follow tracks and trails while you stand still and watch the backtrail. These cagey critters often make a big circle to avoid the hunter, and the person standing still usually sees the most.
Finding a hare in dense cover is tricky. You must watch for movement or listen for the sound, as a rabbit on the move can disappear in seconds. Ideally, you want to find a hare in its day nest, which usually provides cover from above. A hare will tuck into or under a tangle of fallen trees or limbs. Scan carefully!
Hares blend into their surroundings in winter, so watch for eyes and ear tips. Once you locate your first hidden hare, the next is a little easier as you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Try this: set up logs and limbs to create cover along active game trails. The hares are quick to try out the new hiding spots, making them much easier to pinpoint.
Rabbits and hares are most active in low light conditions. To increase your odds of finding them out of cover, hunt in the early and late hours of the day.
A shotgun is often first choice for hunting rabbit or hare – a .22 rifle also works well. You can skin and field dress your rabbits in the field to cool them quickly. The meat along the backbone and back legs are easy to remove. The front legs can be taken off with bone in. Once you get your rabbit or hare meat home, you can stew, bake, roast, fry, or grind it to make almost any dish! We recommend Mark’s Orelton Stew!