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What's the Best Way to Cook Wild Rabbit?

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February 25, 2013

What's the Best Way to Cook Wild Rabbit?

By David Draper

Last week, I spent a few days at Willow Oaks Plantation near Madison, N.C., testing the new Sportsman version of Remington’s Versamax shotgun. The testing protocol included swinging the shotgun at running rabbits being hounded by a pack of howling beagles. This was my first beagles-and-bunnies experience, and I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun in the woods. No pressure trying to kill the biggest rack. No worries about scent or sound. And, if you miss, there’s a good chance the dogs will run the rabbit by you again. As one of the more experienced rabbit hunters remarked, “This is the way hunting is supposed to be.”

We also all agreed the Versamax Sportsman is what a semi-automatic shotgun is supposed to be: extremely reliable and easy on the shoulder. F&S Shotguns Editor, Phil Bourjaily, has called the Versamax one of the lightest kicking shotguns he’s ever shot—an assessment I can’t argue with. The new Sportsman is a stripped-down version of the Gen-1 model, with the same innovative gas-operated system that reliably cycles everything from 2 ¾-inch light field loads to 3 ½-inch magnums. In place of the original’s over-molded, adjustable stock, the Sportsman gets fitted with a standard synthetic version. The package also comes with just one choke—modified, instead of the top-line Versamax’s five ProBore chokes, and is packed a cardboard box, rather than a fancy, hard-plastic case. All this gets you the Versamax’s shot-after-shot reliability for a little more than a thousand bucks, or about $400 less than the original.

When I wasn’t firing the Versamax at fast-running rabbits or laughing at the pack of puppy-like beagles trailing them, I was considering all the ways to cook up a batch of bunnies. I know this is akin to counting chickens before they hatch, but that’s another great thing about rabbit hunting: Bunnies are abundant, so there’s a pretty good chance you won’t go home empty handed. And we didn’t. In two days of hunting, we shot more than a dozen cottontails.

The night after our first hunt, our cook Danny Martin served up some amazing barbecued rabbit. I’ll be sharing that recipe with you soon. Some of our rabbits may also end up in one of these five delicious dishes I’ve written about here. But I want to hear your thoughts on rabbits. Why are they so much fun to hunt, and what’s the best way to cook them?

Comments (16)

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All Comments
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I don't get fancy with rabbits. I dip the pieces in seasoned flour and then fried. Served with fried potatoes and you can't go wrong.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Back in the early 70's I got into rabbit hunting. As the one rabbit hunter in your story said "This is the way hunting is suppose to be" . I could not agree more. Back then I hunted with my "super single H & R 16 gauge and it was all I needed. The writer is also correct if you miss he will circle back around in a little while....... if another hunter doesn't get him first.
As far as eating, well if you know someone who is good at frying chicken, they can do a great job on rabbits as well. One of the most memorable meals I ever ate was when a friend of mine picked me up late one Sunday fall evening for our ride back to college. After throwing my suitcase in the trunk I got in the car and immediately smelled something delicious. My friend had been rabbit hunting that weekend with his Dad, Uncle and brother and his mother gave him a basket of fried rabbit and biscuits to eat on the drive back to school. That's a memory that is 45 years old but still vivid in my memory.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Levi Banks wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I like braising them, I don't get too many myself but my dad usually gets me a couple and he's a pretty good shot. Still the nature of a shotgun, there's generally at least one piece of shot in the body and it's a lot easier to find if I braise then shred the meat. Although fried rabbit was a staple at family gatherings growing up and I've thought about making some myself with the rabbits Dad gave me this year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JamesD wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

In my part of the country we hunt snowshoe hares. It's one of the most exciting forms of hunting I enjoy. When hunting by myself I like a .22 rifle and a fresh snow. When hunting with the beagles we use shotguns and station ourselves in different locations where the rabbits may circle presenting an opportunity for a shot. I've eaten rabbit in many different ways and it's very tasty. A couple of hints on what not to do are, don't soak them in salt water it dries them out, makes them tough and kills the flavor. The other is par-boiling this also kills the flavor and makes them tough. If you cook them thoroughly but do not over cook them you'll find that they are one of the tastiest game animals on the menu.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Fried, like DSM said, or crock potted. But after I had rabbit that a friend's wife cooked up, conejo guisado is the best!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from mayoaaron wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I stick them in a stew

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from canvasbackhunter wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I roll mine in a steak rub. Then i fashion a tray with small sides out of foil. i poor some beer in the foil with the rabbits till done. you can dip in bbq or eat as is. This way is my favorite.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Fried and with gravy, If I knew my grandmother's recipe I would share it but I don't know all the specifics.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from airbornedoc wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Pressure cook them until the meat falls off the bone, then shred with a fork or dice the meat, then mix in your favorite BBQ sauce concoction.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Spanish style, grilled with aioli. One of my all-time favorite dishes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I love traditional Hasenpfeffer. Also a sucker for fried.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I love rabbit fried as they(wild bunnies) are almost always young enough to fry. My father liked to make a cacciatore(it means Hunter's style in Italian) when he shot a few.It's a casserole with tomato sauce.I must say that my bride of 24+ years made a rabbit pie that is still dreamed about by my whole family.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from PAShooter wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Back in the late '60s,while in college, my house mates and I ate a lot of wild game. We lived in an appartment, six of us. We did not have a food plan at college so most of our dinners were of things we were able to get ourselves, money was tight. We would regularly hunt locally since our college was located in a prime hunting area. I was the designated cook because of my experience in working in our family resturant business. Four of the housemates would hunt two or three times a week. Rabbits and pheasants were plentiful. I remember Jack, the only "city slicker" of the group, eating fried rabbit and remarking the it was the best chicken he had ever eaten. We ate a lot of "shake and bake" game that year.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I always cook the rabbits in a pot of water until done. Then cut them into pieces, legs, back. Roll pieces in flour or Progresso Italian bread crumbs and fry in pan of grease or olive oil. I just love my rabbits fried.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas Phillips wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Happy, happy, happy

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from first deer 12 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

My Grandmother always fried ours just like chichen. Delicious.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from FSU70 wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Back in the early 70's I got into rabbit hunting. As the one rabbit hunter in your story said "This is the way hunting is suppose to be" . I could not agree more. Back then I hunted with my "super single H & R 16 gauge and it was all I needed. The writer is also correct if you miss he will circle back around in a little while....... if another hunter doesn't get him first.
As far as eating, well if you know someone who is good at frying chicken, they can do a great job on rabbits as well. One of the most memorable meals I ever ate was when a friend of mine picked me up late one Sunday fall evening for our ride back to college. After throwing my suitcase in the trunk I got in the car and immediately smelled something delicious. My friend had been rabbit hunting that weekend with his Dad, Uncle and brother and his mother gave him a basket of fried rabbit and biscuits to eat on the drive back to school. That's a memory that is 45 years old but still vivid in my memory.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I don't get fancy with rabbits. I dip the pieces in seasoned flour and then fried. Served with fried potatoes and you can't go wrong.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Fried, like DSM said, or crock potted. But after I had rabbit that a friend's wife cooked up, conejo guisado is the best!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Fried and with gravy, If I knew my grandmother's recipe I would share it but I don't know all the specifics.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PAShooter wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Back in the late '60s,while in college, my house mates and I ate a lot of wild game. We lived in an appartment, six of us. We did not have a food plan at college so most of our dinners were of things we were able to get ourselves, money was tight. We would regularly hunt locally since our college was located in a prime hunting area. I was the designated cook because of my experience in working in our family resturant business. Four of the housemates would hunt two or three times a week. Rabbits and pheasants were plentiful. I remember Jack, the only "city slicker" of the group, eating fried rabbit and remarking the it was the best chicken he had ever eaten. We ate a lot of "shake and bake" game that year.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Levi Banks wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I like braising them, I don't get too many myself but my dad usually gets me a couple and he's a pretty good shot. Still the nature of a shotgun, there's generally at least one piece of shot in the body and it's a lot easier to find if I braise then shred the meat. Although fried rabbit was a staple at family gatherings growing up and I've thought about making some myself with the rabbits Dad gave me this year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JamesD wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

In my part of the country we hunt snowshoe hares. It's one of the most exciting forms of hunting I enjoy. When hunting by myself I like a .22 rifle and a fresh snow. When hunting with the beagles we use shotguns and station ourselves in different locations where the rabbits may circle presenting an opportunity for a shot. I've eaten rabbit in many different ways and it's very tasty. A couple of hints on what not to do are, don't soak them in salt water it dries them out, makes them tough and kills the flavor. The other is par-boiling this also kills the flavor and makes them tough. If you cook them thoroughly but do not over cook them you'll find that they are one of the tastiest game animals on the menu.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mayoaaron wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I stick them in a stew

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from canvasbackhunter wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I roll mine in a steak rub. Then i fashion a tray with small sides out of foil. i poor some beer in the foil with the rabbits till done. you can dip in bbq or eat as is. This way is my favorite.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from airbornedoc wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Pressure cook them until the meat falls off the bone, then shred with a fork or dice the meat, then mix in your favorite BBQ sauce concoction.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Spanish style, grilled with aioli. One of my all-time favorite dishes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I love traditional Hasenpfeffer. Also a sucker for fried.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I love rabbit fried as they(wild bunnies) are almost always young enough to fry. My father liked to make a cacciatore(it means Hunter's style in Italian) when he shot a few.It's a casserole with tomato sauce.I must say that my bride of 24+ years made a rabbit pie that is still dreamed about by my whole family.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I always cook the rabbits in a pot of water until done. Then cut them into pieces, legs, back. Roll pieces in flour or Progresso Italian bread crumbs and fry in pan of grease or olive oil. I just love my rabbits fried.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas Phillips wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Happy, happy, happy

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from first deer 12 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

My Grandmother always fried ours just like chichen. Delicious.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment