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EPIC TWO DAY HIGH DESERT HUNT

I set out with SteveO at 3:30 am Saturday morning to meet Jessi in the high So-Cal desert. We had my truck loaded with water, food and camping gear along with plenty of air and ammo. Our primary purpose was to finish filming a Jackrabbit hunting video and to test out some new pelletguns such as the MrodAir P12 and Cricket.

mrodair-p12

We arrived at our desert hunting area at 6:15 am and proceeded to air up the guns and walk a mile North to the “hotspot.”

The morning was quite warm with a good amount of wind blowing towards the South right into us. As I have hunted the desert quite a bit in wind, and I have found it to be somewhat of an advantage as the Jackrabbits and other creatures cannot hear you over the sound of wind. Within a few minutes of our slow walk we were spotting Jackrabbits moving back and fourth in the distance. Jessi and I hunted while SteveO filmed the action between the both of us, not easy at all. All three of us have been to this location so were quite familiar with the lay of the land and the usual spots the Jackrabbits hide.

We walked about a mile coming to a very large open field with scattered Joshua trees and small scrub bushes where I spotted a large Jack eating some grass out in the open. I was able to make a nice kill on him at 45 yards or so that was captured on video. (pic enclosed)

We continued and headed more North into a large loop back to the vehicles looking for a good flat location to camp. We found a very nice accessible area that was flat and had some Joshua trees to provide some protection from the wind. By this time it was about 10:30 am and in the mid 90’s, too hot to be wandering around so we set up a shade awning. We sat under the shade awning for a few hours to cool down, eat lunch and talk. I had already made a kill so I took my turn following Jessi and SteveO with the camera filming all the action they encountered.

 

The high desert is also home to a large amount of Golden Mantel Squirrels that were very tiny, fast and difficult to spot from a distance. Jessi must have taken quite a few, some as far as 60 yards with a few impressive head-shots.

We continued into the Sunset with quite a bit captured on film. All three of us were exhausted from hiking and carrying our guns all day.

 

The heat really takes a lot out of you and gallons of water is needed to survive this vast desert. The night came and we BBQ hotdogs and sausages along with the largest bag of chips I have ever seen.

 

I slept great and we all awoke around 6:30am to indications of an even hotter day only with no wind or breeze. SteveO did a little more filming as we set out to the usual spots hoping for one particular Jackrabbit that had been eluding us, all three of us missed, frustrating to say the least.

After about an hour I had the camera and was able to film SteveO hit one of the largest Jacks I have ever seen at 45yrds or so. These two guys made some very impressive shots, Jessie even attempted what I believe was 100 yards on a Jackrabbit shading himself under a Joshua tree. On our way back to camp we even spotted a good size Gopher Snake that was on his way crossing the trail, beautiful camo pattern it carried.

 

As we made our way back to camp we were all so exhausted as the heat really takes a toll on the body, while the sand just radiates even as the sun goes down. We all carried loads of water and I will say there is nothing better than a cooler full of ice waiting for you when you need it.

The next morning we packed up camp and moved on down the bumpy washed out road to another location that we thought might offer some opportunity . Together we had an amazing hunt, even had a very surprising encounter with two Coyotes. I had such a great time and am so grateful for the memories, laughter and some great food with friends.

 

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JACKRABBIT WEEKEND

by Terry Eannetta


Thursday night I pulled an all night-er hauling this junk home.

I got up at 4:30 to go Jack hunting in the desert. Good thing Dana was driving since I was dead to the world. But after downing a strong cup of coffee while riding shotgun, I was ready to go when we got to our desert hunting location.

This area just stinks of jacks really, but the many Joshua trees make it seem like you’re in a jungle instead of the desert. Leading a running jack is tough while they duck behind a tree or sage brush.

We split up after a few minutes and I hear Dana taking a shot with his Marauder. Then a moment later I just barely see a coyote running away from his direction. He had taken a shot at it and missed. Too bad, that would’ve made this report even better.

He then got the first jack of the day.

I had been spotting and getting a few shots off at some running targets with no luck. I even shot at two that had been hiding under the trees to escape the desert heat. Just as Dana described in his Jackrabbit hunting guide, their tall ears can really give them away.

Especially this one.

He had been lying in the shade and sprawled out like a dog on a carpet. They say the big ones don’t get that size without being smart. This one wasn’t, and I gave him a JSB, pronto.

I wanted to keep going but I had to get home to run errands. What a buzzkill I was.

I get a message from Dana Saturday afternoon saying he wants to go back out. “Yeah, I’m in!” This time he packs The Dog.

Marley is a three year old Lab/Dachshund mix. She is too cool. Typical hunting dog that knows when you’re ready to go out and can’t wait to get there.
So we get after it.


After Dana takes one at 50 yards, Marley does her doggy duty. Check the video:

We separated, since I was seeing Jacks running one way while Dana was shooting at them in a different direction. I walked up a dirt road while chasing one for maybe 200 yards. I turned around to head back. I like to walk a bit on the slow side while I’m checking the base of trees. Then I see movement to the right of me and a Jack stops 30 yards away. Big mistake for him.

I run into Dana and Marley, we see more Jacks running. Good Lord this place reeks of Jacks. Same thing, he chased them one way, I chased them another. I get a text from Dana asking my location. After I reply I look up and see a Jack maybe 25 yards staring at me. I almost drop the phone while he hops away. Then he stops at 50 yards, stands up and I get a shot off.

Meanwhile, Dana and Marley are still busy.

Real Busy.

By this time it was getting close to lunchtime. After hitting the ice chest we decide to jump in the truck and check a different location. After walking about 200 yards I think I counted 6 Jacks running away from Dana while he was taking a shot at one. I wanted to keep after them, but the desert heat was starting to bear down a little bit too much. We decided to bail and call it a day.

We have unfinished business out there….

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Jackrabbit Hunting Guide

Hello all, I decided to write this guide hoping to encourage other airgunners to get out and try hunting these amazingly elusive animals. Jackrabbit hunting in the open desert with an airgun requires careful stalking (inside of 40-50 yards) and demands precise shot placement. It requires a good amount of skill and patience but can be very exciting.Jackrabbits can be found throughout the United States but my focus is the Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) that is found throughout most inland parts of california.

jackrabbit

The habitat I’m most familiar with hunting them is the high desert and wooded forested areas in the 3000/4000ft elevation range. Black-tailed jackrabbits occupy mixed shrub-grassland terrains. Their breeding depends on the location; it typically peaks in spring.Young are born fully furred with eyes open; they are well camouflaged and are mobile within minutes of birth, thus females do not protect or even stay with the young except during nursing. They do not migrate or hibernate during winter and use the same habitat of 0.4 to 1.2 miles year-round.Where you find one I can guarantee many as the average litter size is around four, but as high as seven.They have many predators such as raptors and carnivorous mammals, such as hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes, and wild cats.On several occasions I have spotted a coyote stalking them. Black-tailed jackrabbit populations are common in sagebrush, creosote-bush and other desert shrub-lands: palouse, shortgrass, and mixed-grass prairies; desert grassland; open-canopy chaparral; oak and pinyon-juniper woodlands; and early seral (succeeding each other), low- to mid-elevation coniferous forests.

jackrabbit hunting

Jackrabbits prefer open areas where they can see predators coming, they are active primarily at night. During the day they lie crouched in a “form” a small indentation they make in the dirt.(below)

jackrabbit form

When they are in the form they usually have ears back and are fairly flat against the ground making them very difficult to see. Active areas will usually always have “forms”and usually always will have droppings and sometimes signs of fresh urine.

Now that we have learned a bit about Jackrabbits lets take some time to discuss gear needed to head out and find them.
Enclosed is just a basic list of items I usually carry that can change with the area, time of year and the amount of time I will be in the field.

-Backpack capable of carrying items(camo prefered)
-A good accurate gun,not recommending under 24 fpe
-More water than you think you need
-Food/snacks
-Knife
-Lighter/matches
-Plastic bag
-Rangfinder/binoculars
-Multitool
-Spare magazines
-Pellets
-Sun hat
-Camera
-Longer hunts may require buddy bottle if using PCP gun
-Shooting sticks although I rarely use them
-Cooler & ice for the meat
*(NOTE)Always let someone know where you are on a
map and when you will return.

I also use a good amount of camo, sometimes even covering my face in the colder months. Footwear is critical as I’m usually doing a lot of hiking. For myself It took me a longtime to learn how to walk while hunting, this was my biggest learning curve other than knowing where to look for Jackrabbits. I found myself time and time again going to fast having the Jackrabbits hear or see me well before I could even get a shot. Slow down with light steps and don’t be afraid to stop for a moment to look around, sometimes you can spot them several yards in front of you if your lucky. If you find one they are usually EVERYWHERE but are amazing in they’re ability to blend in. In the morning hours as the sun comes up you can sometimes spot the luminous peachy glow of their ears when they’ve been back-lit by the sun. This in my opinion is the easiest way to hunt them.

amber ears

I usually like to start my hunts 30 minutes before sunrise and have found Jackrabbits to be most active till approx 10:00 am, after that they are usually back in a form against a tree or thicket. Another option for jackrabbit hunting is to find an area they are active and simply still hunt waiting for one to pass in front of your line of sight. When I hunt this way I usually like to try and find high ground if possible. During the middle of the day I find that Jackrabbits all tend to stay in the shade or thick parts of cover, usually always near an open field. Here is just a small example of where I would be looking for them,this is a prime desert habitat.

woodland jackrabbit

desert hunt

Many times when hiking I will spring one from a bush or area they are hiding, usually they will stop to freeze for several seconds allowing just enough time to make a shot.Jackrabbits usually always will run in a circle, eventually always ending back where you saw them. Some say that whistling can get them to stop but I have never had luck the many times I have tried. They run approx 1 to 2 miles so it may take an hour or so for them to return, again this is only my experience and may not always be the case. Most of the time I park and then make a 1 mile wide circle around my truck, ending up back at the truck. You can also walk a long ridge looking downhill and then back on the adjacent ridge to the vehicle. You have to be able to spot them sitting (usually under a tree) at 30-100 yards and set up for a shot. Sometimes you only have seconds to spot and take a shot, with an Airgun it can be frustrating. You can hunt effectively with groups of 1-3 people that walk parallel to each other 50-75 yards apart. Everyone must be in sight of each other at all times and be aware of their safe shooting lanes (no shots at all on the side where the other person is). Walking a large loop around, staying even with each other gives good opportunity to flush more Jackrabbits and can get very exciting. In the event you are able to make a kill its a good idea to dress your jackrabbits at the first opportunity and put them on ice. Even though you cleaned your Jackrabbit in the field, you still need to give the meat a good second cleaning at home to get it ready for the table or the freezer. Use cold water to wash off any blood or dirt from the meat. Trim away any damaged meat & discard all bruised and bloodshot pieces. Trim and discard the major tendons and tough connective tissues. Jackrabbit hunting is very rewarding and some of the most fun I’ve had using an air rifle. Some Jackrabbits can get very large, some resembling small dogs.

Hope the assortment of info provided may give enjoyment and to help someone get started in jackrabbit hunting.

Happy Hunting 8)