The rabbit and hare conundrum
Humans are odd in many ways, but one of the strangest is that we have a real affinity for cute animals. This is one of the reasons why so many kids today start out hunting turkeys, because in all of his glory, a gobbler is still pretty ugly. At least his face is, and – for some reason – that makes them easier to kill.
When it comes to small game hunting and youth, this leads to a conundrum. At least with my daughters it does, because they aren’t particularly drawn to squirrels. Rabbits are a different story. There aren’t too many critters that start out cute and stay cute through adulthood like a cottontail. Think what you want about that, but it factors into hunting desire with newcomers.
Further issues arise when you’re like me and want your daughters to learn how to competently handle a shotgun in the wild. This is easy with turkeys and stationary, highly controlled blind hunting. Birds are a different story, and the hunting opportunity that can bridge the gap between longbeards and flushing roosters involves low-impact rabbit drives.
This is more than a teachable moment, of course, because it’s also a lot of fun and rabbits are delicious. To get a young hunter to look past the cuteness to that reality is tough, so I’m not sure what to do about it. I think that during what’s left of this season, I’ll plan to hunt rabbits myself and then feed them to the whole family. This is a soft-sell approach to where the meat comes from and why it’s important.
Besides that, we’ll tote the .22 around for squirrels and I’ll see which way the wind blows when the girls are successful on bushytails. If that goes well, maybe there will be a chance to try for rabbits, and if not, it’s no loss. I’d rather go too slow on this process than rush it and screw the whole thing up, which is a solid strategy for so many outdoor passions and pursuits.