Author Topic: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?  (Read 19551 times)

Offline chickchoc

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Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« on: March 16, 2012, 12:36:14 PM »
I have an incredible herd of wild rabbits living in my bushes and all around my neighborhood in Michigan.  I'm wondering if I trapped the Eastern Cottontails whether they might be OK to eat?  I don't want to simply release them somewhere else to become someone else's problem and simply killing them seems awfully wasteful.  Suggestions, please?

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2012, 01:05:05 PM »
I would think so.  just don't ask about rabbit starvation  :o

Offline john gillis

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2012, 01:05:28 PM »
I've ate wild rabbits all my life[65] and love them, can cook using any poultry recipe.Lol.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2012, 01:28:36 PM »
You can, but I would freeze them for  minimum of 30 days and wear gloves when butchering them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tularemia

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Offline chickchoc

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2012, 03:01:49 PM »
Thanks for the info.  I should think it would be a good idea to wear gloves when butchering any animal, wild or not.  Also, is freezing the meat supposed to kill the disease organisms?  I thought I might even can some of the meat.  Should I freeze the meat before pressure canning?

Offline Cedar

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2012, 03:22:14 PM »
Thanks for the info.  I should think it would be a good idea to wear gloves when butchering any animal, wild or not. 

I don't on animals I raise or domestic livestock. On ungulates (deer, elk, moose etc), I do not cut through any bone and I have worn latex gloves on some of those. But they 'choke' my hands and I can butcher pretty quickly and I feel they hinder me. I hated gloves until I did miles of fencing one year though.

Also, is freezing the meat supposed to kill the disease organisms? 

Many it does, if frozen for over 30 days.

I thought I might even can some of the meat.  Should I freeze the meat before pressure canning?

Good question on that. I do not know. I would call your extension agency and ask. The main one I have seen on necropsy's on animals at OSU was tapeworm cysts in the flesh.

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Offline 16onRockandRoll

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2012, 09:12:46 PM »
Look into the game laws. If you get caught trapping a game animal, you could end up with a hefty fine, and depending on the mood of the warden and DA, jailtime.

Offline chickchoc

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2012, 03:32:09 PM »
I hadn't thought of our cottontails as "game", but I will certainly look into this aspect of the issue.  Mainly I'm just tired of the little nibblers eating everything down to the ground, then girdling my apple trees.  Thanks for pointing out the legal issue since I live in a fussy town that is already one enormous speed trap.  I guess the "powers that be" here wouldn't be adverse to getting more money by any means they can think of.

nelson96

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2012, 10:09:02 AM »
I hadn't thought of our cottontails as "game", but I will certainly look into this aspect of the issue.  Mainly I'm just tired of the little nibblers eating everything down to the ground, then girdling my apple trees.  Thanks for pointing out the legal issue since I live in a fussy town that is already one enormous speed trap.  I guess the "powers that be" here wouldn't be adverse to getting more money by any means they can think of.

I live in Oregon and rabbit hunting is highly promoted by our State Fish & Game, here is a web link that offers information on regulation here (not much) and what to look for concerning disease.

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/docs/Howtohuntrabbit.pdf

It looks like your state has a lot more regulation.  Here is a link from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10363_10874_12342---,00.html

Wild rabbits come in many sizes of course.  I have heard that of the larger varieties (jack rabbits), ten rabbits can each as much grass as a single cow.

Hunting rabbit is very popular.  Search out some locals and ask them what they are finding for diseases and worms.  I find that in my state it grows and/or declines in cycles from year to year.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2012, 10:22:38 AM by nelson96 »

Offline Perfesser

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2012, 10:11:54 AM »
I think Jack would tell you to plant clover so they leave your garden alone.
They sound tasty to me.

Offline chickchoc

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2012, 08:03:17 PM »
Thanks Nelson for the links.  I also have a friend who is a game inspector for DNR, but I haven't made contact with him yet.  I am a little concerned about worms and other diseases that may be found in wild rabbit populations, but I think I'd still like to give it a go.  I note that rabbit season here in MI ends March 31 for "hunting", but that there are no licenses, etc. required for harvesting on one's own "farm" property.  Hmmm... I wonder if an urban farm would qualify??

Also, Perfesser, I planted my entire outlawn in white and red clover last year to improve the soil and the little buggers just got fatter from the extra food!   ;D   I wonder if I didn't inadvertently attract them to my property by providing more provinder?  ha, ha

Thanks to all for the good advice and different perspectives.

nelson96

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2012, 09:23:38 PM »
I am a little concerned about worms and other diseases that may be found in wild rabbit populations, but I think I'd still like to give it a go.

Don't be too concerned about disease, it will be pretty easy to detect.  If it looks good-to-go when your field dressing and butchering it and you're still concerned, just cook the you know what out of it and you'll be fine. . . . .  Wild rabbit is best in stew but depening on whether you like eating wild game or not, it's good any way you cook it.

inbox485

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2012, 09:50:06 AM »
Most certainly not. Between the horrible diseases you'll get and the rabbit starvation you'll experience if the diseases don't get you first, eating a wild rabbit would be a horrible idea. What you want to do is bag the meat, freeze it overnight, then pack it in dry ice, and ship it to me overnight. I'll dispose of the hazardous material for you. ;)

Really though, I have a pellet rifle nicknamed bunny slayer. In many parts of the country months ending in other than "r" are a no go for rabbit hunting because of serious nastiness in the fur and meat (you won't mistake a maggot infestation for anything edible). I looked up Tularemia a while back, and at least in CA, you are more likely to get it camping or tending farm fences then by hunting, and in any case it is both rare and non-concerning IMO. Other stuff rabbits can get will be obvious when you look at the liver. Google raw wild rabbit, and you'll find there actually is a following of people that eat wild rabbit raw. I find raw meat too chewy, but if you can eat it raw for the most part, you can certainly cook it and be fine.

Also check your laws for hunting regs. IMO, on my own property and out of sight of any public view, what happens to rabbits that wander in is between me and the rabbits, but in most states your hunting bureau "owns" all game no matter where it happens to go to the point that sniping a rabbit out of your garden is a crime if you don't have a license.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2012, 09:55:47 AM by inbox485 »

Offline Dawgus

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2012, 10:09:07 AM »
 Wild rabbit is delicious. I practically grew up on rabbit & squirrel as regular meals long before I ever tasted any that were raised.

 As someone already stated, you can use any poultry recipe. Also LL Bean put out a wild game cookbook some years ago that had a LOT of different recipes for rabbit.

Offline 16onRockandRoll

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2012, 10:42:29 AM »
Lightly bread it and fry it like chicken. Delicious. There are tons of ways to prepare it, that one is a good start.

Offline chickchoc

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2012, 01:37:15 PM »
Sounds yummy!!

Offline orrville

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2012, 07:15:21 PM »
Hi Canning Rabbit in a pressure canner is not a problem. At sea level ten pounds of pressure is equal to 240 degrees F. Just follow directions for meat/ chicken, it will be good.  :)

Offline tyananomura

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2012, 11:22:10 PM »
Wild rabbits are delicious.  In most states they are considered game animals, and you must have a license to harvest them.  In areas where it gets cold it is best to harvest during winter months.  Hard freezes will kill the tularemia that rabbits are known to carry.  They can be cooked so many ways.

Offline CBP

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2013, 11:42:17 AM »
(I hate to dig up an old post but. . .)

I have opportunity to hunt some wild rabbits on a farm.  I like venison.  I like bear.  I like tree rats, er uh, squirrel.  I like domestic rabbit and know how to cook it. 

BUT

I don't care for the taste of wild rabbit.  Its too gamey.  These will be  cottontail, but there is an occasional snowshoe. 

Is this an issue of cleaning?  I keep seeing a vague mention of "waxy kernel glands".  I don't know.  In fact, the folks I'm going love to hunt rabbits. . .but really can't stomach them either.

Any thoughts you can offer would be much appreciated.  I hate to turn down free meat!

nelson96

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2013, 12:25:14 PM »
(I hate to dig up an old post but. . .)

I have opportunity to hunt some wild rabbits on a farm.  I like venison.  I like bear.  I like tree rats, er uh, squirrel.  I like domestic rabbit and know how to cook it. 

BUT

I don't care for the taste of wild rabbit.  Its too gamey.  These will be  cottontail, but there is an occasional snowshoe. 

Is this an issue of cleaning?  I keep seeing a vague mention of "waxy kernel glands".  I don't know.  In fact, the folks I'm going love to hunt rabbits. . .but really can't stomach them either.

Any thoughts you can offer would be much appreciated.  I hate to turn down free meat!

When eating wild game of ANY kind you may detect undesirable flavors.  This can even be seen with something as common as deer, where you liked venison you ate at your neighbors BBQ, but then you ate another meal at another friends house and disliked it completely.

Common things that can create bad flavors in the meat are:
  • How you field dress it, making sure you don't get internal fluids on the meat
  • Glands that get in contact with the meat
  • The temperature and how quickly you field dress it
  • The time of year it is.  Certain times of the year an animal may have more fat and oil in and around the meat
  • What the animal has been eating
You can improve the way an animal tastes even if you can't control some or all of the things listed above.  You can soak the meat before cooking (soak it in salt water, or vinegar and water, or milk), which should be done when it's fresh and not after it has been frozen.  Or, some animals tend to have more internal oil than others and this carries with it a lot of undesirable flavor.  To deal with that you can twice cook it by cooking the meat first in a pot to release the fats/oils, remove the fatty oil, then cook it again the way you traditionally would. 

.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2013, 12:38:48 PM by nelson96 »

inbox485

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2013, 12:33:14 PM »
(I hate to dig up an old post but. . .)

I have opportunity to hunt some wild rabbits on a farm.  I like venison.  I like bear.  I like tree rats, er uh, squirrel.  I like domestic rabbit and know how to cook it. 

BUT

I don't care for the taste of wild rabbit.  Its too gamey.  These will be  cottontail, but there is an occasional snowshoe. 

Is this an issue of cleaning?  I keep seeing a vague mention of "waxy kernel glands".  I don't know.  In fact, the folks I'm going love to hunt rabbits. . .but really can't stomach them either.

Any thoughts you can offer would be much appreciated.  I hate to turn down free meat!

Cottontail shouldn't be gamey at all. In my experience it is like domestic rabbit with a slightly fuller flavor, and a higher bone to meat ratio.

nelson96

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2013, 12:40:59 PM »
fuller flavor

LOL . . .  aka "gamey" flavor.

inbox485

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2013, 01:14:33 PM »
LOL . . .  aka "gamey" flavor.

I guess if your pallet has been adjusted to flavorless meat, maybe. The rabbits I've dropped had the same flavor as the ones I've raised, just slightly fuller. If that is gamey, well to each his own. I just wish I was close enough to take the unwanted "gamey" rabbit meat off your hands. ;)

nelson96

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2013, 01:20:28 PM »
I just wish I was close enough to take the unwanted "gamey" rabbit meat off your hands. ;)

If you're ever in the area I always welcome guests at my table, but you'll have to share it.  I personally love that "fuller" flavor.  And I've never killed a deer that was too gamey for my tastes.

inbox485

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2013, 01:32:38 PM »
If you're ever in the area I always welcome guests at my table, but you'll have to share it.  I personally love that "fuller" flavor.  And I've never killed a deer that was too gamey for my tastes.

Unfortunately I don't get to spend much time outside the golden curtain.

Offline CBP

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Re: Are wild rabbits OK to eat?
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2013, 05:39:02 PM »
If you're ever in the area I always welcome guests at my table, but you'll have to share it.  I personally love that "fuller" flavor.  And I've never killed a deer that was too gamey for my tastes.


Deer too gamey.  lol  I typed my post after sauteing a small piece of inner back strap in butter (taken by a 270 New Years eve).  I have had strong venison.  I had a former neighbor who believed in aging his meat.  Not here.  I get it whacked up as soon as possible, trimmed and never any bones.  The husband isn't super keen on venison, but I've cooked it up in stew and half way through a chew he says, "What AM I eating?"

I'm up for the challenge of "making it eat" regarding rabbits.  I cooked up a domestic rabbit once (along with a chicken breast in case) for an individual who is a big hunter, but does not like wild rabbit.  After a bit of hesitation and then trying it, he found it was quite tasty. 

I think we need to pay special attention to that gland business.  I'll try a bit of a soak and par-boil before the final event.