10-29-06: Same area, better results.
Rabbit 1: Approx. halfway up the hill that leads to the hunting area proper, I saw a rabbit dash under a pine tree and stop when it had a small bush between my line of sight and it. As cottontails are prone to do, he sat there hoping he had evaded me. He hadn't, of course, and I knew he'd take off as soon as I moved toward him, although I wasn't sure which direction he'd take. Upon my first step he ran to the left, uphill. I swung the 870 and fired at him just as he made it under the canopy of another pine tree. The cloud of #6 shot intercepted him and stopped him decisively. The range was short, about 6 or 7 yards. I field dressed him, he was quite a good-sized rabbit (later, it turned out he was the largest of the season), and moved on up the hill.
Rabbit 2: This guy was moving at a pretty good pace, especially after my first shot missed. I fired at him a second time just before he rounded a pine tree and disappeared. My shot went high, as evidenced by the brush above him shaking in reply to the charge of shot. This second shot set me to wondering how to fix my inconsistent shotgun shooting.
Rabbit 3: I continued on and didn't see another rabbit for a long time. Upon crossing a dirt road, I saw a truck parked on the road, a somewhat unusual sight for the area; I presumed it belonged to other hunters. Reaching the edge of a small valley, I sat down to glass it for any game I might see with my binocular, figuring the rabbit hunting was over for the day. After doing this for a while, I saw the truck driving away.
Thinking I should be heading back, I began to retrace my route. About 10:30 a.m., a rabbit jumped and ran from behind a pine tree. My startled movements seemed like slow motion as I snapped off a shot. I checked the area and saw no sign of a hit, so I continued on. A few paces later, what I assumed to be the same rabbit ran in front of me, but more slowly than before. I shot at the rabbit three more times, hitting just in front of him each time. This reminded me of some type of arcade game because as one shot would land in front of him, he would reverse direction, and then do the same with the next shot. Finally, as I ran the shotgun dry, he hopped a short distance, then stopped.
By this time I had loaded another shell in the gun. As the distance separating us was only 10 feet, I tried to shoot at his head but either he moved or I misjudged in my aiming because the shot nearly cut him in two. Fur flew everywhere after the shot. Much of the midsection was destroyed, but I was able to salvage about half of the meat. I'll remember not to do that again.
In retrospect, I suspect that my very first shot probably wounded him, which was why moving slowly when I spied him the second time.
Gun: Remington 870 12 ga.
Ammo: Federal #6 shot
Total shots: 8