Hunting small game and pest animals

It’s easy to forget that hunting SMALL game can be every bit as exciting and challenging as hunting large game once you’ve made the switch and you’ve successfully stocked your freezer with deer meat.


Hunting small game such as rabbits offers young and inexperienced hunters valuable opportunities to hone their skills and improve their field craft. Small game can be hunted with smaller weapons – including slingshots and pellet guns. This can be just as exhilarating and satisfying as when we set our sights on larger prey.

Small, fast-moving game can be extremely challenging to hunt. Rabbits have sharp eyes, acute hearing and a well-developed sense of smell – characteristics that make them wily – and while rabbits sometimes sit still, they frequently run off at full-tilt, making them hard to shoot.

Once the hunt is over and you’ve successfully bagged a rabbit, the meat can be used in a variety of delicious stews and slow roasts.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re planning to hunt non-licenced and pest animals:shutterstock_710731243-RifleGunWithAirPellets

  • Know what animals are in season. Some pest species and non-licenced animals like rabbits can be hunted year-round, while others have seasonal restrictions. Consult Alberta’s hunting regulations to be certain of what can and can’t be hunted before you head out.
  • Handle all firearms, regardless of size and calibre, with respect and care. If you haven’t hunted before, check with the Canadian Firearms Centre and seek appropriate weapons training.
  • You cannot hunt anywhere you like. Non-licence hunting only applies on those properties you are legal permitted to access. Many municipalities have restrictions on hunting within their boundaries. Also, remember that it’s illegal to discharge a weapon within 183 m of any occupied building.
  • Hunting on privately owned lands without permission is a problem in Alberta. It generates anti-hunting sentiment among landowners and results in the prosecution of more than 200 hunters each year. Hunters should leave gates as they find them, avoid damaging facilities or property, avoid disturbing livestock and establish friendly relations with landholders.
  • Alberta’s trespass laws require people to seek permission to access private property. Whether or not ‘Private Property’ and ‘No Hunting’ signs are posted, individuals need to seek permission from land owners prior to entering their properties to hunt. A lot of publicly-owned land is off limits for hunting, so check before you go.

shutterstock_219895042-RabbitThighsMealThe fact you don’t need a licence to hunt a wide range of smaller species removes a barrier and makes this kind of hunting more accessible.  Hunting methods and techniques vary, depending upon hunter skill and knowledge.

No matter which of the non-licenced species you hunt, be responsible, stay safe and have fun!

This blog series is targeted towards first time hunters and focuses on safe and sustainable hunting in Alberta. Check out a list of all the topics in the series here. This is the sixth article in the series.


3 thoughts on “Hunting small game and pest animals

  1. Pingback: Know Before you Go: the hunting edition | Alberta Environment and Parks

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