You would think that with a beagle and two part-time outdoor cats that the rabbit population wouldn't be a problem. But there are only so many rabbits an old, overweight and generally lazy beagle mutt can chase down (or should I say, "waddle after") and the cats can only manage to get a few baby bunnies. Being front de-clawed sucks if you want to hunt for your supper.
I've shot one rabbit this year and Paul got another one several weeks ago. It's not like we get our game bag, cram shells into our pockets and grab the shotgun for a thrilling morning of rabbit hunting. All the deceased rabbits have been in the berry garden. You know, where Paul put the small wire fencing up last year. To keep rabbits and other garden-destroying critters out. But apparently there is a hole somewhere and the smaller rabbits can get in there. Either that, or they've constructed some sort of catapult mechanism that they use to fling themselves up and over the fence.
I don't particularly like killing wild animals as they have every right to be here as we do. But sometimes you just gott'a do it. Sorry, but there is no question in my mind that feeding and caring for my family trumps any garden or livestock-destroying animal. And no, I'm not going to start trapping them and relocating them to another area. I used to do that with all sorts of creatures; opossums, raccoons, squirrels, even copperheads. But then I figured that I'm just releasing those critters to become a nuisance to somebody else. It's no better than dumping unwanted puppies or kittens down a country road.
So for the past few years I've been dealing with the destructive wild animals by ending their lives. I'm sorry if some of you feel that this is cruel, but this is just how I have to do it. And to show what a hypocritical nutjjob I am, and although it's probably animal racism, I still won't shoot any domestic animals (i.e. cats, dogs), although technically they haven't caused any problems (yet). This is the main reason that when we do find evidence (like a destroyed berry garden or chickens sans heads) of a nuisance animal around the homestead, we set out a live trap. This way we can decide who lives, dies or gets sent to the humane society. All that power in our hands; the decision if another living creature "deserves" to live. Makes you think. A lot.
Wait a second, wasn't this post supposed to be about rabbits? Sorry, I just got rambling on there for a minute.
Back to the rabbit.
Paul got a clean shot off and brought the just-deceased rabbit to the front porch, asking me what I wanted to do with it. The last one I shot got tossed into the depths of the compost bin and it killed me to waste it like that. But it was crawling, and I mean crawling with fleas. When Paul brought this one up I was expecting the same, but it was pretty much "clean" so far as a wild rabbit goes. So Paul gutted & skinned it and I cleaned it up and put it in salted water in the fridge overnight.
I'm sure you've all heard about rabbit fever. All I know is that "they" say you're not supposed to eat rabbit in the warm months because you can get some horrible disease. But I've never really had a good understanding of the why behind it so I did some research on Rabbit Fever, i.e. Tularemia.
And after doing my little bit of research and feeling that we followed safe butchering, handling and cooking procedures, we had supper:
So if we happen to catch another varmint in the berry garden, it's going right into the pressure cooker. If you happen to find yourself with an out of season rabbit, don't automatically assume that it's not fit to eat. But please do some reading about Tularemia (and local wildlife laws) first.
Here are a few good websites I found in my online research, feel free to educate yourself:
Oh, and by the way, we are not breaking any hunting laws according to the AGFC Code of Regulations, Section 05.10; Exceptions. Just in case you were wondering. And so Paul couldn't yell at me for self-incrimination.