Shotgunning for snowshoe hare keeps all of my focus this time of year. The flash of white contrasting against the emerald green of spruce and fir thickets gets my heart pumping every time I kick one out. Much the same as grouse hunting in the fall, the surprise of the flush and fast moving game makes for an exciting hunt.
Like most folks, I like to get the most value for my money and one way to do that is to look for guns that I can use for more than one species during the various hunting seasons. Small game and shotguns are perfectly suited to the task.
Here’s a look at three great shotgun choices for putting bunnies in the bag.
Remington 870 Express
The pump action 870 is built to work. The matte black finish and laminate furniture tell you this gun is no wall hanger or safe queen; it is here to hunt.
Standard features include the Rem Choke system allowing you flexibility, choice of a 26 or 28 inch vent rib barrel with single bead sight for quick target acquisition and a milled receiver built for strength. A compact version with a 13 inch length of pull is also available for dense hare habitat and shooters with shorter arms.
With over 11 million made and touted as the most popular and endearing pump action shotgun of all time, you’d be hard pressed to find a more bang for your snowshoe buck.
Stoeger Condor Field
The Stoeger line up of over & under shotguns may be one of the most underrated in the field. As a member of the Benelli USA family of companies, Stoeger makes a solid, good looking firearm at an affordable price.
The 12-, 20- and 28-gauge Condor Field models come equipped standard with a modified and improved cylinder choke setup. This is a great feature for making a follow up shot on a fast moving snowshoe. You’ll find yourself reaching for it in October as well.
This shotgun mounts smoothly and swings effortlessly. These are certainly major considerations when hunting hare. Dressed out in A-grade satin walnut and a high-polished blued finish, the Stoeger Condor Field also looks great while doing it.
Savage Model 24 20ga / .22LR Combo
Is it a rifle or is it a shotgun? It depends on who you ask. Regardless of the quandary of how to classify this innovative oldie but goodie firearm, one thing is for sure. It is a GREAT snowshoe gun!
The Savage Model 24 uses a break open action with a rifle over shotgun configuration. The rebounding hammer and rear pushing extractors also contribute to ease of use. Another great feature is the single trigger with a barrel selector. While earlier models had the selector mounted on the frame, Savage moved it to the hammer to improve reliability.
The flexibility of this setup would benefit serious meat hunters the most I think. Given the ability to take a sitting snowshoe cleanly with a .22 headshot, the fewer pellets you are digging out at cleaning time. Of course, a well-placed shot with the tube would do it as well.
Even if you aren’t busting through brush this month, this gun is well deserving of a place in your cabinet.
What’s right for you?
Picking the right shotgun for snowshoe really depends on the individual hunter and his or her goals. Are you highly concerned about pellets in the meat? What kind of habitat do you most commonly hunt in? What type of firearm actions are you the most comfortable with? Do you want a multipurpose gun?
These questions will all factor in to what is the best fit for you and your hunt. If you haven’t already, next time you see one of these guns on the rack at your local shop, pick one up and get a feel for it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
John is a Registered Maine Guide, an NRA Certified Instructor and an NRA Certified Range Safety Officer. He is a former Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army and is the owner of Tucker Ridge Outdoors in Webster Plantation, Maine. He also works as a freelance outdoors writer and is the author of “Life on the Ridge” for the bangordailynews.com Outdoors section. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook @writerjohnfloyd