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Why gut rabbits straight away but not hares?

Two questions about rabbits. When to gut them and 'peeing' them

gutting rabbits

Paunching shot rabbits

When is the right time for gutting rabbits?

Q: On the shoot where I beat the keeper always guts rabbits straightaway. However, he never guts hares. Why is this?

A: First of all, we say paunching rabbits, not gutting rabbits. Just as the same operation in deer is called gralloching.


Hares benefit from hanging unpaunched to enhance the flavour

  • When the stomach and intestines are left in a rabbit, they have a tendency to taint the flesh in an unpleasant manner. Even more important is to remove the strong smelling glands by the rectum.
  • Some meats benefit from being hung for a period of time, for example venison.  However, if you tried to do that with chicken or pork then you would become very ill indeed.
  • Meats decay in different ways.
  • The bacteria found in pork and chicken can render the meat harmful, whereas bacteria found in the darker venison and game birds is obviously not so harmful and gives the meat its gamey flavour. The same applies to rabbits and hares.
  • Rabbits should be paunched at once and not hung for a long period
  • Hares benefit from a spell of hanging unpaunched to enhance the flavour.