1st cottontail rabbit flush (and 1st rabbit kill): 0:00
2nd cottontail rabbit flush (and 2nd rabbit kill): 1:53
1st ruffed grouse flush: 3:12
3rd cottontail rabbit flush (and 3rd rabbit kill): 3:26
4th cottontail rabbit flush: 4:38
5th cottontail rabbit flush: 5:14
6th cottontail rabbit flush (and 4th rabbit kill): 6:17
7th cottontail rabbit flush (and 5th rabbit kill): 8:35
2nd ruffed grouse flush (and 1st grouse kill): 12:03
3rd ruffed grouse flush: 12:16
All the rabbits and grouse together: 15:43
Talking about rabbit and grouse hunting tips and techniques: 16:28
I hunted small game in New York during winter (late January 2014). I was mainly hunting cottontail rabbits and ruffed grouse, but I also would have taken a pheasant, snowshoe hare, gray squirrel, or red squirrel.
I started hunting in acres of brush and briars on some land near a creek. I either stomped on every brush pile I saw or walked slowly by to make any cottontail rabbits nervous. Early on in the hunt, a rabbit started hopping through a briar patch nearby, and I took a snap shot. It started flailing, so I grabbed it and snapped its neck with my hands quick. I kept walking until a rabbit got nervous and ran out behind me (after I walked by it), so I whipped around and took a more careful shot and hit it. After that, I flushed a ruffed grouse, and I questioned the safety of the shot (because there were houses in the far distance), so I decided not to shoot. Then, I stepped on a lot of brush piles and eventually a rabbit raced out of one of them, and I shot it as it quartered away at top speed. I covered almost all the brush again but didn't see any small game animals, so I moved to different land to hunt on during the afternoon. I started by walking toward a truck box, and I glimpsed a rabbit as it ran under and peaked its head out, but I wasn't going to shoot at the truck box, so I gave that rabbit a pass. I moved toward some old boats, tractor parts, and other junk, and a rabbit burst out from underneath and raced toward the valley brush, and I took a snap shot at where I thought the rabbit was, but I missed. I figured the rabbit was down in the valley, so I pushed in there, and I jumped another rabbit and shot it as it crested the hill back where I walked in from. It kept hopping through the wheels in a tractor tiller attachment, so it was tough to catch, but eventually I grabbed it and broke its neck with my hands as quickly as I could -- normally, I would have just shot its head off to finish it off faster, but I didn't want to take an unsafe shot and risk a ricochet near the metal tiller, so sorry that it was so awkward, but I tried my best. I walked right through the briars, willows, and saplings in the valley, and I think I re-flushed the rabbit that ran out from the boats and junk, and I shot once and missed as it took off, and then I shot again and nailed it as it circled back at top speed. I pushed down into an even lower valley with lots of brush and rose hips where ruffed grouse often hang out, and I spotted a grouse running through some brush as I was closing in on the best spots, so I took a shot at it, but I guess all the brush blocked the shot, so it never connected. The grouse flushed strait up from the saplings, and I took a fast snap shot once I spotted it flying, and it instantly crumpled in the air and fell, and then another grouse flushed out of range directly after. I walked over and noticed that the grouse I shot out of the air was running away from me, and I wasn't sure what had happened and didn't want it to escape by flying or running fast, so I did what I thought was the least risky thing and shot it again once it was far enough away where the shotgun pattern would be loose and not ruin the breast meat. The grouse had a broken wing, so I think I hit it in the wing while it was in the air and then hit it with 3 pellets in the chest once it was on the ground. I hunted acres of small pine trees after to try to limit out on rabbits, but all I noticed was a red squirrel chattering. Soon after, I laid all of the small game animals I bagged on this trip out together -- 5 cottontail rabbits and 1 ruffed grouse -- before talking about the tips, tricks, and techniques I used to have this great day of small game hunting without the help of other hunters to drive the small game and without beagles or other dogs. Finally, I field dressed the rabbits and grouse, snipped the heads and feet off, washed the meat, and vacuum sealed and froze it all for myself and my friends to enjoy later. This was the best small game hunt I've ever been on after hunting state land and private land hard for a decade.
It was a sunny, very cold day, and I mostly hunted in valleys without wind. I was hunting small game with my Franchi Affinity semi-auto shotgun chambered in 20 gauge with improved cylinder choke and high brass shells with size #6 shot.