Wintertime Blues by Shane Hurkmans
As I walked down the old snow covered road with my grandfathers old single shot 410, I could here the words of my grandfather coming to me from the very first time I could go hunting for rabbits. As I walked I could feel the cold tugging at my body, but that would change any minute. Deep in thought I was awakened by the bellow of my old beagle that just broke a fresh trail. I stopped to watch the brush for any sign of the old snow shoe that lived in these parts.
Even though most of the hunting seasons are closed, there are still things to hunt in the late winter months. Rabbit is one of funnest game to hunt in the winter. You can hunt rabbits a few ways, and some of them are great practice for the whitetail season coming up in the fall. One way to hunt them is to run them with dogs. Other ways are to drive them like deer, or my favorite way is to spot and stalk.
You can use anything from a rim fire rifle, to a shotgun or even a bow if you choose. The .22 rim fire is best for spot and stalk but can be used which ever way you like to hunt. Running beagles on rabbits is a great way to sharpen your skills on moving targets. I like to use a shotgun for this style of hunting. The 28-gauge is the shotgun of choice but the other gages will do just fine. I do think the 12-gage is a little big for shooting cotton tails and snow shoes. But if that’s what you have, use it. If you have young ones coming along, use smaller gauges like the 410 and the 20 gauge. They don’t kick and are fun to shoot for us older folks.
I like to use the loads that fit the terrain that you’re hunting. If I’m hunting field edges I like to use 7 ½’s or 8 shot. If I hunt the river bottoms where I may have to shoot through the brush, a larger pellet is needed to cut through. For you .22 guys, I like to you use a .22 short or long rifle. I like to use the .22 short when I’m hunting around homes and populated areas and the long rifle for hunting swamps and river bottoms.
The next time your sitting in that chair thinking of something to do on a winter day, grab the gun and head out to see what the winter can offer you. Check your game laws to see what there is where you live to hunt. Have fun and be safe.
I have been asked why I push hunting and target shooting with smaller calibers and gauges. For one they are cheaper to shoot and have low recoil. The more you shoot the better you’ll be. Reducing recoil helps you work on targeting and the fundamentals of shooting and not worry about getting kicked every time you pull the trigger. I see very poor shooting every fall at the rifle range, when guys are out getting their rifles ready for deer season. The pursuit of small game with smaller gauges and calibers keeps your shooting and hunting skills sharp. Let’s face it with the price of ammo going up every day, we as sportsmen have to find ways to keep our skills up and cut the cost down. Most households that hunt have two or more in the field each year, and the cost of hunting is going up as license and fees continue to rise.