The elusive snowshoe hare is one of the most sought-after game species in North America. Hunting this speedy creature requires a combination of skill, knowledge, and patience. This isn’t your typical hunting experience, as snowshoe hare hunting offers unique challenges and opportunities.
Sure, most hunters are after big game like elk, moose, deer, or bears. But snowshoe hare hunting should be at the top of the list for those who are up for a different kind of challenge and adventure because these are the fastest animals in North America and are known for their elusive nature.
|Size||Length: 18–24 inches Weight: 3–4 lbs|
|Range/Distribution||Throughout the taiga of Alaska|
|Diet||Grasses, buds, twigs, and leaves in the summer; spruce twigs and needles, bark, and buds of hardwood such as aspen and willow in the winter|
|Predators||Avian and mammalian predators, including ground squirrels and red squirrels, gray foxes, red foxes, coyotes, wolves, lynx, bobcats and mink|
|Reproduction||Breeding begins in mid-May. Females give birth to 2-3 litters averaging 4 young each|
Know the habitat and find the game.
Knowing the habitats for snowshoe hares is essential to successful hunting. These creatures prefer colder climates and are found throughout North America, with the majority residing in the boreal forest. They typically inhabit dense brushy areas, coniferous forests, and wetlands and can be found at elevations up to 11,000 feet.
To have the best chance of spotting and hunting snowshoe hares, it’s important to understand their preferred habitats. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:
- Habitat. The snowshoe hare is a creature of the woods known for its excellent camouflage abilities. This is their best defense against predators. Look for areas with dense tree cover or any other thick cover vegetation if you want to increase your chances of spotting one.
- Time of day. Snowshoe hares tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, so plan your hunts accordingly.
- Food sources. These creatures feed primarily on shrubs, herbs, and tree bark. To find them, look for areas with lots of vegetation and leafy greens.
- Snow cover. Hares tend to thrive in areas blanketed with a layer of snow throughout the winter. Plan your hunts for the colder months, when there is ample snow cover in your preferred habitat.
However, knowing the habitat and where they live is just part of the equation. These are some of the most challenging creatures to hunt for because of their speed and agility.
Hunting techniques for snowshoe hare.
Hunting snowshoe hares requires more than just a knowledge of their preferred habitats. These speedy creatures are known for their elusive nature, and successful hunting often requires a combination of patience, skill, and strategic tools.
Camouflage and scent control.
Snowshoe hares have excellent camouflage abilities and can blend into their surroundings with ease. As a result, it’s crucial that you take steps to conceal your presence during hunts.
- Dress appropriately. You’ll want to wear clothing that matches the environment and helps you blend in better. Patterns like camouflage or earth tones work best. Mix in some white if you’re hunting in areas with heavy snow cover.
- Control your scent. Snowshoe hares have a keen sense of smell, so it’s essential to control your scent while hunting. This can be achieved by using scent-blocking products or hunting with the wind at your back.
Decoys and calls
One of the most successful techniques we’ve used is decoys and calls.
Decoys are lifelike replicas of snowshoe hares that can be used to lure in live hares.
Calls, on the other hand, mimic the sounds made by hares and can be used to draw them in closer for better shots.
Some popular calls include the cottontail distress call and the jackrabbit call. Experimenting with different calls and decoys can help you identify the ones that work best for your hunting style in your area.
Using the right firearm.
We’ve only ever used two types of firearms when hunting snowshoe hares: the shotgun and a .22. I’m sure you can get away with another smaller caliber, such as the 5.7mm, but the 12 gauge shotgun and .22 are likely going to be your best choices.
Snowshoe hares are some of the fastest animals you can hunt, and you’ll need a weapon that can keep up. A shotgun offers more spread and is better suited for shooting at moving targets when using bird shot. On the other hand, a .22 is quieter and more precise, making it an excellent choice for close-range shots. However, the .22 is a difficult shot for a hare on the move.
Might want to take a dog.
You might’ve used hunting dogs before when going after waterfowl, but they’re also great for hunting snowshoes. They can sniff out the hares and help you chase them out of the brush, making for a more successful hunt.
Some popular breeds for snowshoe hare hunting include beagles, foxhounds, and harriers. However, any dog with good tracking abilities can be trained to hunt snowshoes.
When you hunt for snowshoe hare.
Finding the snowshoe and hunting them is one thing, but you have to know where to find them and when you can hunt for them. While you can hunt snowshoe hares in just about anywhere in the northern half of that US, some states are better than others. Each state has different seasons for hunting snowshoe hare.
|State||Bag Limit||General Hunting Season|
|Alaska||No Bag Limit||No Closed Season (All Year)|
|California||5/day, 10/season||July 1 – January 28|
|Connecticut||2/day, 10/season||January 1 – January 30, November 19 – December 31|
|Minnesota||10/day, 20/season||September 16 – February 28|
|Utah||10/day, 30/season||September 1 – March 15|
|Michigan||5/day, 10/season||September 15 – March 31|
Of course there are a few more states that you can find these hares in, but these are some of the more popular places hunters seek them out.
Bag yourself a snowshoe hare.
Snowshoe hare hunting requires patience, skill, and the right equipment. They’re one of the more challenging hunts we’ve been on, but hunting them is a thrilling and rewarding experience. With the right knowledge and techniques, you’ll have a better chance of spotting and capturing these elusive creatures.