California cottontails

coachdog

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Hey everyone, I'm really looking forward to rabbit season, but I just want to know if they are safe to eat. Where I'm from (Buffalo New York) it was always said to wait for the first frost (which back there seemed as early as the fourth of July) until they're safe to consume.

As I'll now be hunting the Angeles NF, a frost seems unlikely before season opens next week. So what's the deal?

BTW, I'm going to be using my longbow, so it may not even be an issue the way I'm shooting lately. Thanks as always for your help.
 

Newby

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In my unproffesional oppinion, they are safe to consume. However, be watchful for parasites & soars when helping them out of their jacket.:throwup-yellow:
 

Hogskin

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The real concern is tularemia.  If the liver has yellow spots on it, it's infected.  Cooking it really thoroughly would probably kill the bacteria, but it's a risk you don't want to take.  

Also, wear rubber gloves when you clean them. As a matter of practice, I always wear rubber gloves when I clean game anymore.  Some guys get their yuks making fun of me for the gloves, but I don't really care.  It really reduces the risks of handling infected game and it just makes good sense.  After dressing a gutshot hog a couple years ago (before I became a believer in the gloves) I had all that goop all over my hands and under my fingernails.  I washed them (as well as I could in the field) with a bottle of water.  Driving back to camp I started to gnaw on my fingernail and got a taste of all that nastiness.  I'll tell you, that will cure you of nail biting!

Regards,
Paul
 

QALHNTR

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<font face="Tahoma">I didn't have anyone to lead me through the hunting do's & don'ts, so I read a lot.  I got a nice pamphlet from the AZ Fish & Game years ago.  To avoid the risk of certain rabbit diseases, it suggested following the Rule of the "R".  If a month didn't have the letter "R" in it, then you didn't harvest rabbits.  It might be more of a wives tale, but it's easy to remember.  This was only a guide for the HOT areas.  Besides, who wants to eat a bunny that tastes like three month old dead sage brush?  OK, me - with lots of marinade !  </font>:eat-burger:
 

Mojave

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We used to hunt rabbits quite a bit, though I don't go out of my way for them now. Our hunting was mostly in grassy valleys and deserts, and our rule was not to eat them if there wasn't an "R" in the name of the month (except sometimes in late "Argust"). To check for Tularemia, pinch the rabbit's skin on the neck under the chin. If you feel small lumps, don't even start cutting. If it seems clear, skin out the bunny, and examine the liver for white or yellow spots. If you find a spotty liver, leave the rabbit as a treat for the coyotes. Cook your rabbit really well. They taste better that way anyway. The glove idea is a good one, but I could never be bothered. With careful handling while cleaning a rabbit, you need never get blood on your hands.
 

docramo

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Been using rubber latex gloves to dress all my game. What a slick way to clean 10 doves ...peel off the gloves and your hands are ready to go. The first time I used them to clean Quail my hunting Bud's thought it was pretty Wimpy...now they all use them.Give them a try.
 

shaginator

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Good advice with the gloves and spots on liver. What I also do is spray the skinned and gutted rabbit with a small amount of vinegar before packing in ice. Even without spots on the liver, or other signs like on the skin or neck the rabbit may still have early stages of tuolaremia. This can be generally cooked out at the right temperature.
 

mustystubs

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Hey Guys:

I thought the last case of rabbit fever in California was something like 45 years ago.  Anyone know something different?
 

Hogskin

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Stubs,

I don't know about California, but they say there are a couple hundred cases reported nationwide each year.  Also a lot of cases that are either misdiagnosed or unreported.  Probably a lot of them are from ticks, not handling rabbits.

Regards,
Paul
 

shaginator

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Yeah, I think actual cases are fairly rare, and that most people are careful when handling game these days.

Its like salmonella -- you know its there and most people take simple precautions, so you don't hear about tons of cases.

On the other hand, if one contracts tularemia, the symptoms are more serious than salmonella.

Hogskin makes a good point -- a lot of cases can come from ticks, so make sure you pack something that contains permethrin.

Don't mean to exaggerate the presence of this disease: A few hundred out of a million hunters a year is small odds, however those few extra precautions keep those odds even smaller. On top of that those practices of cleaning game yield better quality meat anyway.
 

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