Acquiring Small Game Quietly- Part 1, by S.D.

In the event of TEOTWAWKI, procuring food, including acquiring small game, can be not only a benefit and a help making supplies last longer, but it can also be a lifesaving ability. Small game is prevalent just about everywhere until the hunting pressure is on and then it disappears. I have seen this first hand on our small six-acre lot. We hunted the rabbits on the property one year with our archery equipment, and although the rabbits won overall, we harvested a few, or two, over the course of the season.

Visible Rabbit Population Decline

Despite our inability to make a dent in the overall population, the rabbit population on our property seems to have declined substantially. This decline could be attributed to a rise in predator population, but I think it is more directly related to the pressure we applied during hunting season. The neighbors properties still have plenty of rabbits, and I can see them hopping around during the day in many areas. They seem to be as plentiful as ever, and yet our property didn’t contain any that I was aware of.

However, after placing a trail camera, I found that we still had rabbits; they just came out after dark. I consistently got pictures of rabbits at around midnight to four in the morning. The moral of this story is that even a fairly large small game population will be affected by hunting pressure, whether or not the hunters are successful. To be an effective hunter in a highly competitive post-TEOTWAWKI environment, knowledge, skill, and the right equipment will be essential.

Essential Knowledge

Knowledge can be gained right now. In order to harvest an animal, it must first be located and an approach must be made to within reasonable range for the weapon being used. Finding the animal can be the hardest part.

I have walked within two feet of a rabbit and not seen it although I was looking for it, only to have it jump up at my feet. Knowing not only the animal but the environment it lives in is essential. There are many books on the topic, but there is no substitute for actual time in the field. Watch the local wildlife. See how it moves, how it is affected by weather patterns as well as moon phase. Having a knowledge of the animal and how it moves and is affected by changes in the environment provides a significant head start over the people who will grab anything and run out the door with the intention of finding and harvesting game and have no idea how to actually do it. This is a steep learning curve, and it is a lot less stressful now than it could be later.

Learning Through Practice

Part of learning comes through practice. The act of learning about the animals and their movements, and the acquisition of skill is the beginning. Just being outdoors with the animals will help, but try to also learn the effects of different approaches. While hunting deer, I found that in the semi-residential area that I hunt, the best approach is usually in the open. If I try to sneak up on the deer, they inevitably see me and head for greener pastures. When I just walk up to them, they don’t seem to mind at all. I attribute this to the area I live in.

The deer are used to seeing people out doing chores and walking around and have learned that a person that is just walking is no threat, but if someone is seen trying to sneak up they are probably hunting. Different areas require different tactics, and the best way to know what works best in a particular area is to get out and try it yourself. This builds the skillset that will come in handy later.

Modern Firearms Make Hunting Easier

I have found that a modern firearm makes the whole hunting process substantially easier. I am far more successful hunting rabbits with my .22 than with my bow. That being said, in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation, hunting in an even semi-residential area with a rifle or shotgun could draw undesired attention. Where I live, even a .22 can be heard by many of the neighbors, even indoors. To desperate people, the shot sounds more like a dinner bell, and they may not feel like sharing. In situations like mine, stealth becomes very important. I have found that the lowly pellet gun can be a very helpful piece of equipment.

Types of Pellet Rifles

There are four basic types of pellet rifles– multi-pump, CO2 powered, break barrel, and pre-charged. These rifles are available in three major caliber options, although there are many other calibers. I will discuss calibers in a moment, but first I want to make the case for the best action.

Multi-Pump Style Pellet Rifles

The multi-pump style are generally a lower powered option designed for smaller shooters. There are some very nice multi-pump guns on the market, but the power of these guns is generally somewhat lacking. The major downfall is the fact that they need to be pumped after every shot, which is very hard to do for fast follow up shots.

CO2 Powered Guns

CO2 powered guns are generally semi-automatic, which fixes the major flaw with the multi-pump style, but the gas produces its own line of problems. These guns require a cartridge, and the seal around the gas cartridge is prone to wear. I haven’t owned a CO2 gun that has lasted very long. CO2 cartridges also add to the cost to shoot, perform poorly in cold environments where most hunting occurs, and produce substantially lower velocity than any other action.

Break Barrel Guns

Break barrel guns are the most prevalent pellet guns in today’s market, and a quick glance at the variety at any major sporting goods store will support this claim. They have substantial power, and the only process needed to load is the action of bringing the barrel down to expose the breach and cock the gun in a fluid motion. The only downside to these guns is the additional skill needed to be able to shoot proficiently.

Break barrel guns are powered by either a spring or gas piston, which creates some major recoil when the shot is fired. The gun has an initial backward recoil as the spring starts to move forward followed by a forward shock as the ram hits the end of its channel. The spring vibrates the whole time. The only way to shoot break barreled guns accurately is by using a special hold to allow the gun to vibrate in the same manner each shot. I have shot a break barrel for a while and have not had much accuracy past about thirty feet.

Pre-Charged Pellet Guns

The last type of pellet gun is pre-charged. These guns carry a reservoir of high pressure air, which is achieved by using either a tank of high pressure air or a high pressure hand pump. The pumps are less expensive than tanks and allow filling just about anywhere, as long as the owner is willing to take the pump apart to replace seals when they go bad. Pre-charged guns have the power of the break barrel and match-grade accuracy.

They get multiple shots per fill, and some can be adjusted for power. Many also have a pellet magazine for faster reloading. Due to the design, the guns can be made very quiet with a variety of aftermarket parts, and the range can be easily pushed out past fifty yards with practice. The guns can be purchased with the pump for about the price of a standard .22 rifle. My favorite air rifle is pre-charged, and I can consistently kill the starlings that get in the attic out to fifty yards. These guns are worth looking into.

Importance of Knowing and Practicing

So, we’ve covered quit a bit about the importance of knowing your prey and practicing the hunt now as well as selecting the right weapon. We’ve talked about various pellet rifles. Tomorrow, I will continue with more information about pellet rifles and then move into the various types of traps that can be successfully used to acquire small game quietly.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 74 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

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  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
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  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
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Round 74 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.




17 Comments

  1. Revolvers, loaded with wax bullets with the flash hole opened up a bit, are deadly on small game. No powder, very low noise and they are moving at a bit over 800 fps. The bonus is that if you need it, you’ve got a real weapon instead of just a pellet gun.

  2. I have a break open pellet rifle that I use. That being said, my single shot .22 and using CB caps have less noise than my pellet rifle. As far as range goes, the CB cap is the same as the pellet rifle. I have shot rabbits that were in my garden and my neighbor was outside about 100 or so feet away from me and never heard me shoot.

  3. The theme of the article is acquiring small game without noise, yet everyone is talking about using a firearm of some sort. With luck, you may hit your target. Without luck you will go hungry.

    If it were part of my plan to seek out small game, especially in a wooded area, I would use a wide mesh gill net. In a teotwawki scenario…rules go out the window since you are in a survival situation. a 4 ft. X 12-50-or even 100 ft. ft. gill net will capture many critters if you have it set up and drive them to it.

    Once they become entangled, a club to the head will finish the job. Plus there is no noise or bullets to dig out.

  4. Or you could just start raising rabbits so you wouldn’t have to worry about taking wild ones…That way you know that you have a dependable food source and your not relying on something you have no control over except for the killing part…To many people focus on the wrong things and it’s going to get a lot of good people killed… Building Community in the Right area should be the focus of everyone at this point not how to hide and eaten last…

  5. I run suppressed break barrel air rifles. They are noisy at the shooter’s position, but quiet at the game’s perspective. Powerwise, they can drive a .177 cal pellet as deep as a .22 CB Short round into a 2×4. I’ve used mine for exterminating the local muskrat population digging holes in my shoreline. After cleaning, they will diesel, and can push a pellet trans-sonic resulting in a crack. I’ve been able to make kills on muskrat up to 75 yards. Alloy pellets will travel faster than lead, and will break the sound barrier on a normal basis. So to keep things quiet I stick to lead pellets. Air rifles with plastic barrels will droop if not stored in the same position continually. A drooped barrel can throw accuracy off by a foot at 50 yards, and can happen by storing it the wrong way overnight. I wish they’d stick to metal barrels!

  6. Thanks for breaking down the various air powered rifles. Have had limited success with a big store break barrel and wanted to upgrade.

    Saw a YouTube video with someone using a Benjamin ” Woods Walker ” pistol with detachable shoulder stock . He had great success thinning out a rat population. ( had some makeshift night vision device but forget exactly what it was )

    Looked into the Benjamin pistol and $400 plus price tag was quite shocking. Have to agree with other posters that a .22 with subsonic ammo may be a cheaper option.

    My solution ended up being Aguila .22 colibri in a bolt action. Only sound you could hear was the hammer falling. It made a light “tink” sound 🙂

    Very helpful in ridding squirrel populations in a urban area.

    Still may get the Woods Walker as it doesn’t qualify as a firearm. Very helpful living in a anti-gun big city.

  7. i too have had some trouble locating rabbits the last few years. I think i have a predator problem tho cause as im out exploring/hunting the property i will come across a fur pile or a pie of feathers. I have really only seen a coyote out here a few times while in my tree deer hunting so im not sure what the deal is. does anybody know a good way for me to find out?? thanks in advance

    1. You might look into the game cameras — some have night vision or triggered led lights to work at night. They fasten to a tree with a belt and are triggered by motion. You check them the next day or so. Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods,etc have them.

  8. A throwing stick is one of the quietest ways to hunt. A hefty stick about 18 inches long and 1.5 inch diameter is thrown sidearm at the game. All you need to do is stun them, then run up and snap the neck. It can be used on birds also. Like anything, if you practise, you can get pretty good. Thanks to Tom Brown,Jr for the info.

  9. I have had every increasing amounts of rabbits in my back yard also over the past few years. They aren’t out in the day, but come out every night at dusk.

    Aside from the seemingly every increasing population in the local area, why is it they favor my back yard? It protected by an 8 foot fence. Also, I don’t have a dog, but every single one of my neighbors do. I love dogs as much as anyone, but I hate bad/poor dog owners.

    That aside, as long as I can keep the rabbits out of my garden, I enjoy watching them.

    back on topic regarding air rifles, the author is dead on target, at least regarding the first 3. I recently purchased a Ruger break barrel rifle in .22, and to be honest, it seems louder than my 10/22 rifle.

    the one I’m not sure about is the pre-charged. I’m not familiar with those. Anyone here, who has one, is is one you would recommend to someone else?

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