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Old 06-14-2011, 3:47 PM
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Default How to Clean a Cottontail Rabbit - GRAPHIC

This has been on my site for years. With the upcoming hunt, I wanted to repost it on Calguns:


Well, I've received alot of emails from people asking me what I do with the Cottontail Rabbits we shoot. Normally, if we are doing depredation shooting we will give the Rabbits away to the local residents in the area. Depending on the condition of the Rabbits and the caliber they were shot with, Cottontail can be great eating.

This is a picture expose' of how to clean a Rabbit. There are probably 50 different ways to clean a Rabbit once the skin is off, but this is the way we've been doing it for years. It's fast and does not waste much meat. Unless you can consistently make head shots, this is the way we do it when chest shots are the norm. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.

You've made the shot and you have a nice brace of Cottontail Rabbits. What now?

Begin by skinning the Rabbit, starting from the back feet, carefully pull the skin off the Rabbit towards the head. It's like peeling a sock off your foot. Remove tail and any other fur that was left over after the "peel".


Once the fur is peeled up to the shoulder or head area, make a slit along the stomach to the base of the sternum. Be very careful not to puncture the intestinal tract, if you do try your best not to get any of the bile on the meat. After making the first slit, carefully cut between the legs, cracking the bone until you get to the extreme lower intestine (basically where the round poop comes out).


Again, carefully cut around this portion to separate it from the flesh between the legs. Holding the end hole closed with your thumb and forefinger, pull the tract out and place up along the side out of the way. It will still be attached to the intestines, but can be pulled out far enough to be completely out of the way.


Once it is pulled out of the way, you will notice a sack filled with yellow liquid. This is urine, you do not want it to spill onto the meat.


Continued in the next post...
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Old 06-14-2011, 3:47 PM
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Note the lower intestine tract laying over the intestines and the yellow sack of urine.


The yellow sack of urine can be removed by carefully pulling the intestinal tract towards the front of the rabbit. I normally hang the rabbit upside down so gravity helps move the intestines and the urine sack down. If needed, use your knife to carefully loosen the urine sack and/or the intestinal tract. Pull the innards down as far as you can go, preferably to the middle of the ribcage area.


Once done with remove the intestines and other internal organs, check the meat for any spots or abnormal looking areas. If the Rabbit has been shot after the first frost of the year, you should have no problem with a nice healthy specimen. The feet can be cut off with a pair of sharp clippers. Cool your Rabbit immediately and soak in milk when you get home (my way of doing it).


Editor's Note: "Tularemia is a bacterial disease of rabbits that is transmittable to man, usually through openings in the skin. Hunters who notice small white or yellow spots on the surface of the rabbit's liver when they are field dressing it should discard the entire rabbit immediately. During the early stages of the disease the liver can appear normal, though the infected rabbit may behave oddly, move slowly or be easily captured. It is a good idea to wear rubber gloves when dressing a rabbit and it is important to always cook rabbit meat thoroughly. Tularemia is transmitted between rabbits by fleas and ticks. The rabbits usually die from the disease, but it is not normally a problem once there has been a good hard frost and the temperature remains cool. A hard frost kills ticks and fleas which carry the disease and any rabbit infected prior to the freeze will normally die within a few days of contracting the disease."

Eric Mayer
After The Shot Cottontail
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Old 06-14-2011, 3:52 PM
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Good showing!! For the newbs out there don't forget to hurry up and get that thing to the butcher!!
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Old 06-14-2011, 4:49 PM
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Just an added note: for the 'first timers' I hate the word Noob! any wild game is going to have a unique kinda weird smell to them while cleaning/gutting them, don't panic, also if gutted immediately they will be real warm to the touch, again don't panic all is good and may take some getting used to......
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Old 06-14-2011, 5:07 PM
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Is there no meat worth saving above the rib cage?
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Old 06-14-2011, 5:53 PM
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You did a great job, teaching how to do it!!
It was great that you showed to split the pelvis, and clean out that area.


Take care
Abenaki
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Old 06-14-2011, 6:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PANTyRAiD View Post
Is there no meat worth saving above the rib cage?
Yes there is, but as stated in my post, unless you are making head shots everytime, this is the way I do it when chest shots are the norm.

The top part is easy to clean, the bottom part with the bowels and urine sack are the parts you need to be careful with.

Glad this is helping some folks!

Eric
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Old 06-14-2011, 6:22 PM
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Excellent post! Thanks!
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Old 06-14-2011, 9:27 PM
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Great post!!! Also for the first timers, if you see any boils or anything of the like, THROW IT AWAY! It is a tell-tale sign of leptis-spirosis and will get you sicker than a dog!!!
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:09 PM
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Thanks for providing the lesson. What type of rnd did you use for the rabbits in the photos? And whats the proper way of disposing the infected rabbits? Thanks again.
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Old 06-15-2011, 6:16 AM
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The rabbits in the photo were shot with my Ruger 77/17 - 17HMR. As far as disposing rabbits that may be diseased, I suggest burying them. If that is not feasible, back them and toss them in the trash when you get home.

Thanks for all the kind comments!

Eric
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Old 06-15-2011, 7:04 AM
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Awesome tutorial! Complete with step-by-step photos. Got one on hogs?
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Old 06-15-2011, 7:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PANTyRAiD View Post
Is there no meat worth saving above the rib cage?
There is good meat, but unless you plan on boiling the rabbit for a soup/stew, the way Eric cleans the rabbits is very efficient.

I hunt them with a shotgun, primarily because its the only thing I'm allowed to hunt with in the area I shoot rabbits. Often enough I hit them in the head/shoulders area. If the rabbit is shot up real bad, I'll discard the front half. If it took most of the shot in the head, I don't mind cleaning out the few pellets that are in the front quarters. Here in a couple weeks I'll get some rabbits and post up some addition to this thread.
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:38 AM
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Thank you sir
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Old 06-16-2011, 1:21 AM
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Good tutorial. I look forward to trying this out. how do you usually prepare the rabbit? do you butcher your own meat, or take it somewhere?
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Old 06-16-2011, 5:12 PM
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I am so offended! I am contacting PETA immediately!
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Old 06-16-2011, 5:20 PM
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OP, do i have your permission to distribute this.
not for profit
as a part of Hunter Education Course, additional material

it would be nice as a word doc or something.

Tripper
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Old 06-17-2011, 5:07 PM
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If you soak them in vinegar and water for a few days then cook them up like fried chicken they are good.

You got a dep permit for cotton tails how did you manage to get that?
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Old 06-17-2011, 6:23 PM
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If the rabbits are doing immediate damage to crops, all you need is written permission from the landowner. If we were doing any kind of night shooting, we got written permission from the landowner and notified the local DFG Warden (who in turn gave us verbal, or written authorization - depredation permit). He worked it out for us to give them to local picker families.

We killed 100 or so over a couple of nights...

Even if the landowner says to go ahead and "kill 'em all", always get written permission for private land depredation.

Eric

FYI:

4186. Nothing in this code prohibits the owner or tenant of land,
or any person authorized in writing by such owner or tenant, from
taking cottontail or brush rabbits during any time of the year when
damage to crops or forage is being experienced on such land. Any
person other than the owner or tenant of such land shall have in
possession when transporting rabbits from such property written
authority from the owner or tenant of land where such rabbits were
taken. Rabbits taken under the provision of this code may not be
sold.
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:01 PM
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Great tutorial Eric. One thing to add is make sure and be UPWIND just in case you bust them guts open.
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