If just getting into hunting — or are an experienced hunter who’s ready for a hunt that’s not too strenuous — hunting cottontail rabbits is the perfect choice. Cottontails are found across Utah. The terrain in which they live is fairly easy to hunt. And when hunters find a pocket of rabbits, they should be in for a good shoot.
“Cottontails are fun to hunt,” said Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “And you don’t need a lot of equipment to hunt them.”
Robinson said rabbits typically live in two places in Utah — areas that have brushy, dry washes with lots of tall sagebrush or rabbit brush in them, and areas that have lots of rocks and rocky outcroppings.
“Cottontails usually hide under rocks or brush,” Robinson said. “Sometimes, they’ll even hide in burrows. Draws that have tall sagebrush or rabbit brush in them also have loose, deep soil that the rabbits can often find burrows in. Rabbits will also hide under large rocks, or they’ll hide in the crevice of a rock.”
Unlike jackrabbits, which can elude predators by outrunning them, cottontails need the help of broken terrain to stay hidden. That’s why hunters usually find cottontails in hilly areas rather than on flatlands.
Robinson said early morning and late afternoon are the best times to hunt cottontails. “That’s usually when the rabbits feed,” he said. “In order to feed, rabbits move away from their burrows and into areas where it’s easier for you to see and pursue them.”
Between their feeding times, hunters usually find rabbits resting and sunning themselves near or under brush that isn’t far from a good hiding spot. If they’re using a rock to hide under, they’ll often sun themselves on a flat piece of rock.
Counties in southeastern, south-central and southwestern Utah hold some of the highest numbers of cottontails. “This season,” he said, “counties in northern and central Utah have the lowest number of rabbits.”
As you’re deciding which area to hunt, you might want to choose an area you can visit frequently. “Rabbits aren’t everywhere,” Robinson said. “If you choose an area that you can visit often, you’ll learn which parts of the area hold rabbits.”