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I used to bow hunt deer in Illinois. I also did a bit off rabbit and squirrel hunting with a bow, mainly to extend my hunting season and got a few of that game as well. I've a decent amount of experience with rifles for target shooting but I've never hunted with a firearm before. I moved to Ohio and I'm not that interested in hunting deer anymore (at least for now). I like the idea of walking around and scaring up game and not worrying about scouting, stand placement or scent. I'm thinking about hunting rabbits and squirrels with a Ruger 10/22, I don't own land, so am interested in hunting on public land. I'm actually probably not going to try to take squirrel, as I don't care for the meat. But if I find that squirrel are more plentiful than rabbits I might just have to look for some new recipes and acquire a taste for them.

I've combed through the hunting regulations pdf but I still have some questions/concerns I'm hoping this forum can help me out with:

1) Most of the hunting I've done in the past was from a tree stand with a bow on private lands (with a few times out walking around looking for squirrels/rabbits). Obviously you have to be careful when hunting regardless of what equipment you're using, but when hunting from a tree stand with a bow you are shooting downwards and bows don't have that long of a range. Apart from all of the standard firearm safety rules. With a rifle from the ground, I'd be concerned, even with a 22lr, about the round flying somewhere I wouldn't want. As the saying goes, there is a lawyer attached to every bullet you fire. I would think I'd want to be firing at a down angle (not that rabbits climb trees but I'm thinking I wouldn't want to shoot at squirrels if they were up in a tree) but if there were hills that could be an issue, and making sure I'm aware of what is behind the target is even more critical. Any tips for being safe?

2) In the past I hunted on private land, and while you always have to be careful, I rarely saw any other hunters or people. Is there any etiquette or rules I should keep in mind when on public land? I assume seeing others would be more common.

3) I've never hunted with a firearm, but I think I heard that when you're hunting with a shotgun, you can only have 3 shells in the gun at any time and you might have to use a plug. Are there any rules in Ohio about how many rounds you can have in a rifle when hunting? I can't imagine firing more than twice at a single animal (realistically 1 with perhaps a coup de grace). But even still, I'd like to know what the rules are and despite combing through the regulations and doing a fair bit of googling I can't see rules or laws around if and what the round limits are for a rifle.

4) Apparently there are snowshoe hares in Ohio and they are protected. I don't believe there are any snowshoe hares in Illinois and I certainly never saw any. I'm not planning on hunting in the northeast of Ohio, so based on their range I don't anticipate me even seeing them: Snowshoe Hare But better safe than sorry, so any tips for distinguishing them from legal cotton tail rabbits? Would snowshoe hares always be white during the hunting season?

5) Should I be at all concerned with lead from a 22lr poisoning the meat? With a bow I would always shoot for the heat/lungs but with a rifle on rabbits and squirrels I was planning on going for headshots, so hopefully this wouldn't be an issue. But if I happen to hit one in the chest, would the lead contaminate the meat?

6) As I read it, I would not be able to hunt rabbits with a rifle during the gun and muzzle loaders seasons. Is that correct?

7) Would I be required to wear blaze orange while hunting on public land? If I'm not required to wear blaze orange would it still be a good idea to do so?

8) What would be a the maximum humane range to take rabbits with a 22lr? I would need to be very confident in my ability to hit at that range regardless, but am interested in what would be the maximum range from a lethality perspective. I've got an 18in barrel on my 10/22 so I think I'm getting the maximum out of the cartridge. As of right now I wouldn't try to take a shot past 25 yards as that is what I've sighted in my scope for (the ranges I'd go to in IL were really pistol ranges and didn't go beyond 25yds). But maybe I should resight it for 50yds or a longer distance?

I'm planning on taking a hunter's safety course before I buy a license even though I don't believe I am required to do so in Ohio because I took a hunter safety course back in Illinois (which I understand counts for getting an OH license), but it was probably 10-15 years ago and it was in Illinois which has different laws and regs, plus I wasn't planning on hunting with a gun, so I wasn't as focused on the firearm rules at that time, and even still I could use a refresher.

Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated!
 

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My suggestion: If you want to hunt rabbits in Ohio, you need beagles. It will be a tremendous amount of work to walk up rabbits without hounds, and trying to hit a rabbit running away from you with a rifle will be difficult at best. A scope will make it nearly impossible as rabbits don’t often stop when jumped.

I very seldom ever see people hunting rabbits without hounds today (unlike 50 yrs ago), and when I do, I almost feel sorry for them. We don’t have the rabbit population we once did, and those we have tend to stay in the thickest cover you can find. Better have good brush pants that will stop thorns.

Now squirrels are another story. In my part of the State (SE), they are everywhere and not hunted much these days. Most people who hunt down here are after deer and turkey and that’s it. It should be easy to get a good bag of squirrels if you want them.
 

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You will quickly find that if you are going to limit yourself to the use of a 22 only, squirrel will become your favorite target. Brushbusting for rabbits is better suited for a shotgun, but put a little snow on the ground and the 22 can be fun!
 

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Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated!
With the cost of groceries, in general, and meat, specifically, rising faster than it takes for the ink to dry on the previous price tag, venison is cost-effective and nutritious.

Stalking game is a great way to hunt, particularly small game. It's almost a lost art.

While the iconic Ruger 10/22 is an excellent choice of firearm, check out the Savage M24 and similar copycats. They are literally a game-changer.

Some will argue, and I agree, that squirrel meat is "sweeter" than rabbit meat. Recipes abound for both.

Safety is everyone's responsibility. Parked vehicles likely indicate other hunters in the area, and a hunter stalking game has to be really, really careful of any horizontal or elevated shooting. Likewise, an observant hunter in a treestand needs to make his presence known when he spots any hunter stalking nearby, especially one that's carrying a rifle.

On public land, the one who gets there first is entitled to it.

Download the rules, read and study them, carry them, and follow them. The hardest part of hunting and fishing in Ohio is doing it by the rules.

I don't worry about lead poisoning from game meat, particularly from a .22 rifle. I do take precautions to inspect all wound channels, not so much to avoid lead poisoning but rather damage to teeth.

Hunter orange is always a good idea when upland hunting.

My .22s shooting Rem Golden 36g HP at 1280fps at a 1" diameter squirrel's head is zeroed at 55 yards for a maximum point-blank range of 63 yards. Ah, if only I could shoot as well as my rifles. Ha!

Take the course.

Almost all of Ohio's rabbits are recruited, trained, and operate within the parameters of my vegetable garden here on our little piece of paradise. That said, squirrels definitely provide a target-rich environment.

Get out and hunt. Take a kid.
 

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You will quickly find that if you are going to limit yourself to the use of a 22 only, squirrel will become your favorite target. Brushbusting for rabbits is better suited for a shotgun, but put a little snow on the ground and the 22 can be fun!
jrose is correct that trying to jump shoot rabbits gets easier with snow. That is, if you live in a part of the state that gets snow as our winters trend milder. Still would remove the scope for quicker shooting.

As for snowshoe hare, they were stocked only in one small area east of Cleveland. I don’t think they were successful. Unless you are hunting specifically there, you will never see a hare in Ohio.
 

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IMO, I wouldn't shoot at rabbits on public with a 22. I think it is too dangerous, as it could hit a rock and ricochet, or hit someone that you are not aware of that is also there hunting or hiking or whatever. I do shoot squirrels that are in trees, but not on the ground. Of course, this is just my 2 cents.
 

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RE 3: AFAIK Ohio has never had a 3 round maximum requirement for a shotgun except for deer, and of course the federal requirement for migratory waterfowl. The only limitation I see in the regs for small game is a 10 GA maximum caliber on shotguns. Surprisingly there is no limit on rifles or pistols as there is for deer, so you can hunt rabbits with an elephant gun.
RE 4::The few snowshoe hare I have seen, none in Ohio, look very different than cottontails. They are larger, have longer ears, and larger feet. Also, they turn white in winter whereas cottontails are brown all year-round.
RE 5: It can be an issue. Personally, I'd stay away from hollow point ammo, especially for a body shot. Head shot is preferred, even if the bullet stays together & passes through you'll lose some meat, and there isn't a whole lot to start with. Another advantage of a head shot is the rabbit will drop immediately, so you won't be crawling through brush & briars to retrieve dinner.
RE 6: I see no limitation in the regs, however it would be prudent to not carry anything legal to take deer during gun season, unless you're also carrying an unused deer tag. This is a requirement for hunting other game, eg wild pig.
RE 7: I'd wear orange on public land, always. However if I read the regs correctly all hunters must wear orange during deer gun & muzzleloader season, except waterfowl hunters.
RE 8:A 22 LR should be good for at least 50 yards. I'm lucky to get a shot that long for my local area.

My opinions & comments, do your own due diligence. If I got something wrong the warden won't be swayed if you quote some random guy on the internet.

I suggest you check ODNR online or in the hunt-fish app for info.
 

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RE 3: AFAIK Ohio has never had a 3 round maximum requirement for a shotgun except for deer, and of course the federal requirement for migratory waterfowl. The only limitation I see in the regs for small game is a 10 GA maximum caliber on shotguns. Surprisingly there is no limit on rifles or pistols as there is for deer, so you can hunt rabbits with an elephant gun.
RE 4::The few snowshoe hare I have seen, none in Ohio, look very different than cottontails. They are larger, have longer ears, and larger feet. Also, they turn white in winter whereas cottontails are brown all year-round.
RE 5: It can be an issue. Personally, I'd stay away from hollow point ammo, especially for a body shot. Head shot is preferred, even if the bullet stays together & passes through you'll lose some meat, and there isn't a whole lot to start with. Another advantage of a head shot is the rabbit will drop immediately, so you won't be crawling through brush & briars to retrieve dinner.
RE 6: I see no limitation in the regs, however it would be prudent to not carry anything legal to take deer during gun season, unless you're also carrying an unused deer tag. This is a requirement for hunting other game, eg wild pig.
RE 7: I'd wear orange on public land, always. However if I read the regs correctly all hunters must wear orange during deer gun & muzzleloader season, except waterfowl hunters.
RE 8:A 22 LR should be good for at least 50 yards. I'm lucky to get a shot that long for my local area.

My opinions & comments, do your own due diligence. If I got something wrong the warden won't be swayed if you quote some random guy on the internet.

I suggest you check ODNR online or in the hunt-fish app for info.
Random guy on the internet made me laugh. :LOL:
 

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I have to disagree with these other posters. We used to hunt with beagles when I was a kid alot but it would always turn from following dogs running rabbits to chasing dogs running deer. We got away from it and would jump them out of tree lines with shotguns. Sadly it seems farmers have to remove all brush and trees for an extra 4ft of planting..... ugh that is another subject. Our current style of rabbit hunting involves using a 17hmr and a tripod, one stands on the gun while the other walks a little ways just inside the tree line. The rabbits will run a short distance and stop to look around...... 150 yards on a rabbit is a long shot and does not happen often but the 17 will do the job perfectly. If hunting alone I just carry a trigger stick and do the same thing but shoot from inside the woods. They typically stop within 20 yards if you don't keep pushing them and present an easy shot. If using a 17 I always say it's best to take the head shot as sometimes it can blow the body up but that all depends on how you clean and eat your rabbit. This has been our go to method of taking bag limits of rabbits in a few hours since you have accuracy and optics to reach out and poke them.
 

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I have to disagree with these other posters. We used to hunt with beagles when I was a kid alot but it would always turn from following dogs running rabbits to chasing dogs running deer. We got away from it and would jump them out of tree lines with shotguns. Sadly it seems farmers have to remove all brush and trees for an extra 4ft of planting..... ugh that is another subject. Our current style of rabbit hunting involves using a 17hmr and a tripod, one stands on the gun while the other walks a little ways just inside the tree line. The rabbits will run a short distance and stop to look around...... 150 yards on a rabbit is a long shot and does not happen often but the 17 will do the job perfectly. If hunting alone I just carry a trigger stick and do the same thing but shoot from inside the woods. They typically stop within 20 yards if you don't keep pushing them and present an easy shot. If using a 17 I always say it's best to take the head shot as sometimes it can blow the body up but that all depends on how you clean and eat your rabbit. This has been our go to method of taking bag limits of rabbits in a few hours since you have accuracy and optics to reach out and poke them.
I don’t think those methods would work well down here in SE Ohio. First, nearly all the private land is leased and/or posted by deer hunters, so finding places to rabbit hunt is not easy unless you go to public land. The public areas are big and can be difficult to hunt. We don’t have a lot of crop land. Best to have a couple of good beagles.
 

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We used to rabbit hunt with .22s and beagles.Often rabbits running ahead of dogs don’t run fast and stop often. You have to learn where to stand and be quiet.I have also used my bow. Don.t know about the legality of rifles on public ground.
 
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