I give a quick overview on shot placements I use when rabbit hunting

Even though jackrabbits (actually a hare not a rabbit) are quite large, they are not too difficult to kill. As a kid I used to shoot them with a .177 Crosman pump rifle, and by choosing the right shot placement and range these 16 fpe rifles would do the trick.

Following are a few photos I’ve taken during my hunts, some of these rabbits I shot after the photo sessions, others I left alone. I’ve put a dot to show the shots I would take if presented the opportunity, and you will note that I often have both a chest and a head option to choose from.

I think both head shots and body shots work fine, and either may result in a rabbit dropping stone dead. However, head shot jackrabbits often flop and roll as the nervous system shuts down, and can be quite bloody. Body shot rabbits will often run a few yards then drop over dead. I don’t believe that either in intrinsically more or less humane, and both result in a clean kill.

The hunter needs to decide what their capabilities are, as a rule of thumb, with any given rifle your maximum distance will be defined by how far you can reach out with a consistent 5 shot 1” group. That might be 30 yards, or it might be 50, be realistic in assessing your own capabilities. And remember to test you abilities from field shooting positions and not the bench.

In figures 1 and 2 a pair of jacks are on the run, chasing each other and stopping to eat. When I was a kid and hunted jacks with my Ruger 10/22, I’d often take shots on running rabbits. But with air rifles and the inherently lower rates of fire, I will let the rabbit stop before I take the shot.

On broadside shots (fig.s 3 and 4), I will aim either right below or right behind the eye, which will deliver a brain shot. Going for the body I will either shoot right behind the shoulder for a heart/lung shot, or place the crosshair on the shoulder to break down the front leg as well as double lunging the jack.

On a front shot (fig. 5) I will aim at a point between the eyes low on the forehead. Don’t go much lower than this or you might hit the nose and mouth which might not result in a clean kill. You can also aim center of chest for a heart shot, but missing the heart the rabbit may run a bit further before dropping.

Fig. 5 For frontal shots I generally prefer a head shot, but if the brush is heavy and the body is all I’ve got, I’ll take it.

On a rear shot or one quartering away, I’ll aim at the back of the head between the ears, behind the eye which will give a solid brain shot, or behind the quartering shoulder which will result in a heart or a heart lung shot.

Fig 6: Hitting low in the back of the head is one of the most effective shots, though if the rabbit is quatering away you do have options for a body shot.

When the rabbit is in cover (fig. 7 & 8), which is very common, the hunter will need to take the most open shot, which is why having multiple aim points is useful. There are other considerations, most of the jacks we shoot are for pest control, but if you are hunting for the table you might decide you only want to take head shots.

The gun you’re using will also dictate shot placement, and the larger the caliber and more powerful the gun, the more effective a chest shot will be, and it can be taken from further.

So there you have it, this was not meant to be an exhaustive review of rabbit hunting. I post a lot of videos on rabbit hunting, and moreover jackrabbit hunting, and am frequently asked about shot placement. This has been the cliff note version on how I target jackrabbits in the field.

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