High Desert Rabbit Hunt Report – Thompson Contender

As many of you read and saw recently, I used my 23″ Thompson Contender Carbine for a couple of months on Ground Squirrels here in California and did a pretty thorough write-up.  Although some of the squirrels I shot were pretty large, I was really looking for larger varmints to put the T/C and Centurion ammo to the test.


Last year a member of another forum I frequent put together a “Newbie” hunt for rabbits in the Owens Valley area of California.  We had a good time with a small group of hunters and everyone got their first rabbits.  The hunt was set-up again for this year and we had 18 “new” hunters show up for some guidance and a chance to hunt Cottontail and Jack Rabbits.  The group did very well on Friday evening and Saturday.  Sunday I woke up and wanted to hit an area some of the guys had hunted and did well.  It was a desert area that surrounded a large alfalfa field and the rabbits were doing some very obvious damage.

When I first arrived, one member of our group was walking back with a nice looking Cottontail.  He told me where the other hunters were, so in order not to get in their way, I headed out towards the desert.  As I parked my truck near a water pump, I happened to see a Jack rabbit hop out of the field, into some sagebrush next to the dirt road.  I slipped out of my truck and grabbed my Thompson Contender, a pocketful of the White Box Centurion ammo and my shooting monopod.  I began to walk towards the rabbit, about the time it decided to sneak into the sage next to the alfalfa field.  I estimated the Jack at about 100 yards, so I held on the top of his head and squeezed the trigger. At the crack, the rabbit dropped like a rock.  A second later it was flipping around in the sage, so I know my estimate on it’s range was dead-on, for a change!

At the shot, I caught a glimpse of another Jack rabbit about 250 yards away sneaking away into the desert within the sage brush.  I started to head that way and walked directly towards where I had last seen the rabbit.  When I began to get near, I saw the rabbit start to move away very slowly, with it’s back hunched, just walking through the sage.  I knew it was going to be hard for me to get any kind of shot with the rabbit on the move, so I headed to a spot that was a bit higher than the desert and waited.  I figured that the rabbit would get nervous and eventually move again and this time I would have a better field of view and hopefully, a clear shot.  The rabbit did not disappoint.  It started to move, just a few steps at a time, but not knowing where I was caused it to fall back to it’s built-in safety mechanism and froze.  I took aim, this time knowing it was a bit further than the first one, so I held a bit higher and made the shot.  The bullet entered the back of his neck, just below his head, killing it instantly.  Rabbit number two was in the bag.

After I collected the second rabbit, I walked through the desert looking for more.  I took some shots at a couple of other moving rabbits, but I found this to be useless so I headed back to my truck for some pictures.


Some of the other guys I was hunting with were moving to another area, so I headed to the opposite end of the alfalfa fields about a mile away.  When I pulled into the baled alfalfa holding area, I saw more rabbits running into the desert from the fields.  I knew I had to hit that area, because any rabbit worth his back-straps was not going to be too far from their lush feeding area!

I worked my way over to the gate, unloaded my Contender, and slipped under it and into the desert.  What the next two hours held for me was nothing short of amazing!  There were rabbits everywhere!  Cottontail were holding closer to the fields and the thick brush that lined it; so I ended up with two of these, with both shots being about 60 yards.  I decapitated both with shots to the head, killing them instantly and with no knowledge of what lead to their demise.

Rabbit #1:


One of the rabbits was standing in the middle of a non-descript dirt road when I shot it.  Only after I returned to it a short time later did I notice a part of the rabbit’s face sitting in the brush about 10 feet away.  The 5mm round decimated the head so dramatically that it literally left pieces lying about, while delivering an immediate lethal blow!


While I walked the perimeter of the alfalfa field, I looked for the spot that the rabbits were getting under the fence.  Once I found them, I followed the tracks into the desert, which eventually lead me to the rabbits.  I slowly worked my way through the area, stalking rabbits and taking shots that ranged from 75 to 100 yards.  Every rabbit dropped instantly where they sat.  Most were taken with head/neck shots, but one was taken through the chest, killing it immediately.


Although it was expected, I was still very impressed with the efficient performance of the 5mm Rimfire.  The accuracy, as well as the power, is perfect for larger varmints such as these rabbits.  I hope to record a future hunt so people can see the evidence first hand!



— Eric A. Mayer