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Are you interested in small game hunting? It can be a rewarding and challenging activity, with dozens of types of animals to hunt, from squirrel hunting to haunting rabbit, pheasants, ducks, coyotes and more.

From safety protocols to tactical strategies, our beginner’s guide will get you ready to land your first small game hunt in no time.

New to hunting? Check out: How To Hunt: The Ultimate Guide For New Hunters

Small game hunting. Photo of a squirrel in the wild sitting on a tree branch.

Small Game Hunting

Small game hunting is an enjoyable outdoor activity for hunters of all ages and skill levels. Hunting for small animals such as rabbits, squirrels, and birds can be just as fun and rewarding as big game hunting.

With the right gear like a hunting vest, air rifle, shotgun or bow, boots, camo clothing, binoculars and a knife anyone can get started in this exciting sport.

As well as being great fun, small game hunting helps hone shooting skills as well as developing knowledge about animal behavior. It can be done at short range or even long range with the right weapon.

Enjoying time outdoors with family or friends with the thrilling anticipation of connecting to a successful hunt make small game hunting an unforgettable experience.

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Small Game Hunting Season

Understanding the best times of year to take part in a small game hunt will greatly increase your chances of success.

Depending on the type of animal you’re pursuing, hunting regulations and seasons can vary across different regions. Usually mid to late fall is small game hunting season, but varies by species. Check with your local game department.

Before you head out for a hunt, be sure to look up any legal requirements or limitations, such as bag limits and restrictions on certain weapons or methods.

Some areas will allow you to hunt with certain weapons and calibers, while it’s restricted in other areas, Know your local laws before heading out to hunt.

It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the applicable wildlife management areas (WMAs) and state parks, to make sure that you’re hunting in all the right places throughout the season.

5 Most Popular Small Game Animals

Rabbits: Hunting Rabbits makes for a great outdoor adventure. They reproduce quickly, meaning there’s always a plentiful supply of them running around. Plus, they’re incredibly fast-moving and consistently put up a good challenge to hunters, so it never gets dull! On top of that, they’re also very tasty when cooked up in all sorts of savory dishes.

Squirrels: Squirrels are entertaining and challenging to hunt, as they are highly agile creatures with a small size. They can be found living in different environments, from rural areas to even cities! Hunting squirrels is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, especially given their abundance in many parts of the world.

Quail: Hunting quail is a popular activity among small game hunters due to their quick flight and tricky maneuvers. Not only are they challenging targets, but they also taste great when cooked in a variety of ways. Thus, quail provide an enjoyable experience both on the hunt and on the dinner table!

Pheasants: Pheasants are a renowned game bird among small game hunters, due to their brightly painted feathers and quick flying patterns which make them a tricky prey to hit. Additionally, these birds are also edible, and can be cooked in many ways for a delicious meal.

Groundhogs: Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are well-known for their comical behavior in the spring when they “predict” the weather. However, these small mammal creatures are more than a source of entertainment. They are popular with hunters for being smart and elusive and can cause damage to crops, making them problematic for farmers and landowners.

Small Game Hunting Vest

It may be tempting to forego a vest when small game hunting, but trust me, you’ll want everything easily accessible and a vest is the way to go.

A small game hunting vest is an essential piece of equipment for any hunter. It’s designed to keep all your essential items and supplies close at hand, making it easier for you to stay safe and comfortable in the field.

When selecting a vest, consider features such as deep pockets, tool loops, and magnetic strips. A good quality vest should also be lightweight enough so you don’t feel weighed down while out hunting.

Make sure the fabric chosen is sturdy and weatherproof, so you’ll be ready no matter the conditions.

One thing I want to point out separately is a blaze orange vest. Just because we’re small game hunting, doesn’t make it any less dangerous and we still need to be visible to other hunters.

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Small Game Hunting Gear

We are talking about some essentials when it comes to small game hunting. This list is to help you get started and covers almost everything you’ll want to bring on your small game hunt.

  1. Hunting Vest: Yes, I want to stress this again because people just don’t seem to get it (ha!) A hunting vest is a must-have for any small game hunter. It has multiple pockets that provide easy access to your hunting essentials, such as ammo, water bottle, snacks, and other small items.
  2. Air Rifle, Shotgun, or Bow: Air rifles, shotguns, or bow and arrows make great weapons for small game hunting. Which one you choose is a personal preference.
  3. Hunting Boots: Good-quality hunting boots are essential to protect your feet from rough terrains and harsh weather conditions. They provide excellent support and traction, helping you move silently and quickly through the woods.
  4. Hunting Knife: A good hunting knife is an indispensable tool for skinning, gutting, and field dressing small game. It should be durable, sharp, and easy to handle.
  5. Binoculars: Binoculars help you spot small game from a distance, giving you a better chance of taking a successful shot. They are also useful for scouting and tracking animals.
  6. Hunting Hat: A blaze orange hunting hat provides protection from the sun, rain, and other elements. It also helps to keep you warm in cold weather and provides good visibility in low light conditions.
  7. Game Calls: Game calls are essential for luring small game animals within range. They can be used to mimic different animal sounds, such as distress calls or mating calls, to attract your target.

Overall, having the right gear is essential for a successful small game hunting experience. It ensures your safety, improves your chances of taking a successful shot, and makes your hunting trip more enjoyable.

Scout Potential Hunting Locations

Before you head out on your hunting trip, do some research and scouting in advance to find a good, safe location.

You’ll want to look for established trails and open areas conducive to small game hunting.

Take into consideration the type of terrain, land conditions, weather, and vegetation when selecting a spot.

Consider local wildlife management policies such as season restrictions so you’ll be sure to stay compliant with government regulations.

Talk to local hunters and seek out advice in online forums for more tips.

Guns for Small Game Hunting

When small game hunting, the right gun is a must-have for success and enjoyment. If you’re hunting with guns, consider these options.

Air rifles tend to be popular choices, with their quietness and accuracy suitable for hunting animals like rabbits or squirrels.

Plus, they come in several calibers, allowing hunters to select the power level that meets their needs.

Shotguns also make good options for hunting birds and other small critters since they are able to fire multiple pellets at once.

Finding the proper firearm for small game hunting requires assessing things like the terrain, shot distance, and area laws.

Having the best gun as well as adhering to safety practices make small game hunting an exciting adventure.

Small Game Air Rifle

If you’re planning to hunt small game with an air rifle, make sure you have the right type of ammunition.

The type of air gun you use will determine the appropriate caliber, powder charge and projectile weight to help ensure successful hunting trips.

Selecting the right caliber air rifle for small game hunting is essential. If you are planning to take down small animals such as birds and squirrels, a .177 or .22 caliber air rifle is the best choice.

The smaller .177 caliber offers higher speed and less recoil, whereas the .22 round provides more energy for taking on larger prey like rabbits and raccoons.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference when it comes to choosing the right caliber for your specific needs. With the proper shot placement and appropriate caliber, you can enjoy a successful hunt with an air rifle.

Test different brands of ammunition ahead of time to see which performs best and most reliably for your rifle. Make sure your ammo is properly sighted-in so that it lands where you expect it to, every time.

Small Game Shotgun

For small game hunting, shotguns can be a great choice. The range of loads, gauges, barrel lengths and chokes mean there’s a perfect fit for any type of game from birds to rabbits and squirrels.

When choosing a shotgun caliber for small game hunting, 20 or 12 gauge shotguns are especially popular choices, as they have the right balance between power and recoil.

The lightweight load of these weapons allows them to take down small animals such as rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, as well as hunting ducks, and quail without causing too much damage to their meat.

For coyote hunting, we recommend 12 gauge as it will give you the takedown power needed for a 30 to 40 pounder.

Longer barrels offer more precise accuracy, while different chokes can help with spread based on the distance of the shot and type of game.

Shotguns also offer advantages such as wider shot patterns, allowing hunters to more likely hit their fast moving targets.

Their popularity among hunters for their ease of use and versatility only add to why so many choose shotguns for small game hunting.

With the right shotgun setup, small game hunting can be an enjoyable experience.

Small Game Hunting With A Bow

Small game hunting with a bow requires additional skills and knowledge on the part of the hunter, including understanding principles such as archery equipment and shooting techniques.

Alongside choosing an appropriate firearm, if you’re opting to hunt small game with a bow then you’ll need additional hunting gear such as arrows and a quiver.

You should carry emergency items like repair supplies and knifes in case your bow or arrows break during the hunt.

Know how of trees and plants will help you identify and access paths that may provide food sources for potential game.

Safety practices like wearing fluorescent orange are also part of safe hunting practices when it comes to bow hunting for small game.

Best Bows and Arrows for Small Game Hunting

Here are some of our picks for the best bows for small game hunting.

  1. PSE Razorback Takedown Recurve Bow – This bow is a popular choice for small game hunting due to its lightweight and compact design. It’s also affordable and durable.
  2. Martin Jaguar Elite Takedown Recurve Bow – This bow is another great option for small game hunting. It’s easy to handle and delivers accurate shots.
  3. Bear Archery Cruzer G2 Compound Bow – While compound bows are not typically used for small game hunting, the Bear Archery Cruzer G2 is an exception. Its adjustable draw weight and length make it versatile and easy to use for different types of game.
  4. Easton Axis Traditional Arrow – This arrow is made of carbon and has a durable design that can penetrate small game with ease.
  5. Gold Tip Traditional Hunter Pro Arrow Points – These arrow points are made of high-quality stainless and have a small diameter that increases accuracy and penetration power. Combined with the Easton Axis Arrows, it’s a great set!

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When it comes to small game hunting, choosing the right bow and arrow is essential.

Beginner hunters should start with a lightweight recurve or longbow, while experienced archers might want to opt for a compound bow or crossbow.

Additionally, make sure to select arrows suited for the type of game you’ll be hunting.

With the proper gear and some practice, you’ll be ready for a safe and successful outdoor adventure!

Can You Hunt with a Crossbow?

Can you hunt with a crossbow? The answer is yes, depending on the specific hunting regulations that have been put in place by your local government.

Crossbows can be an excellent choice for hunting everything from small game to larger animals due to their quietness when compared to firearms and lower strength requirement than a traditional bow.

Before going out hunting with a crossbow though, it’s important to take into account various safety measures such as proper shooting technique and handling of the weapon itself.

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Small Game Hunting: Final Thoughts

Small game hunting is an exciting and rewarding activity that can be enjoyed by novice and experienced hunters alike.

Whether you’re using an air rifle, shotgun, or bow and arrows, small game hunting is a thrilling experience.

With the right gear and a wealth of knowledge, you can enjoy the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction of a successful hunt.

Not only does small game hunting provide nutritious and delicious meat, but it also offers valuable opportunities to hone your hunting skills.

Why not give it a try? You never know, this could be the start of something special.

So go forth, happy hunter – may your small game hunting endeavors bring joy and success!

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