Introduction: The Rabbit Stick Hunter

Picture of The Rabbit Stick Hunter

Rabbit sticks, or throwing sticks in a general way, are one of the first and still one of the finest balistic hunting weapons ever. They are very easy to make, cheap, silent, powerful, and very effective. These weapons, often not more than a light curved wooden branch, are especially popular in the western and midwestern United States, but did you know they were already a favorite rig in Ancient Egypt?

Throwing sticks can not be used only for hunting small game such as rabbits and ground squirrels (Native American style), but also for waterfowl such as ducks and geese (Ancient Egyptian style) or small dogs (Urban City Survivor style). Just kidding!

Excuse my poor english, btw, I need some more exercise to get sedated well.

Step 1: Rabbit Stick Versus Boomerang?

Picture of Rabbit Stick Versus Boomerang?

The difference between rabbit stick and boomerang?

If you want to hunt in a survival way, the most primitive projectile is a pebble. Problem, a pebble has only a limited field of efficiency, namely its own diameter. To be effective with a pebble, you need to be really good driver. Would you like to increase this field, you can either take a larger pebble or multiple stones (the principle of a shotgun).

You can also take a stick, and preferably a curved rod. By throwing this stick in the right way, he will not only cover a much larger field will as the pebble, but will be much deadlier. In fact, those 'rabbit sticks' were the first intelligent projectiles of the first hunters, the bow did its appearance long after.

Unlike boomerangs, rabbit sticks are not built to return. On the contrary, they flie in a straight line, and are often much heavier because they are built to inflict damage.

Boomerangs are much more intelligent built, with wings that are profiled to ensure that the projectile returns to the thrower. They are also much lighter and therefore more fragile. The method of throwing is also different. Boomerangs are thrown almost vertically, rabbit sticks horizontally like a frisbee.

See the rabbit stick as the ancestor of the boomerang.

Step 2: Making a Primitive Rabbit Stick

Picture of Making a Primitive Rabbit Stick

All you need is a curved branch, preferably a hard wood such as oak. No beech, that breaks too easily. I used a few branches that I got from a friend. No idea about the type of wood, they were in any case quite heavy.

In principle, the sticks are ready to use like that, yet I told you it's a very simple weapon? Cut the branch off to the desired length. Throw him off a few times and observe how well he behaves. He must turn quickly around its axis and fly straight. Find the right balance, remove material away, feel the power. Each branch is different. The more closely you work, the more grateful you will be during the hunt yourself.

Just for the pleasure I took the bark off with my pocket knife and took me a few hours of smooth to sand it sweet. To complete the picture, I rubbed the stick with oil. Again, no functional utility, I thought, but it promotes the grip. Without oil, the stick was slippery and he slid easily out of my hand. With oil, he seemed much better to sit in the hand. Paradoxical, but true.

Maximum range: about 40m (43 yards).

Step 3: Getting the Higher Level

Picture of Getting the Higher Level

Inspired by images of traditional Hopi rabbit sticks, I decided to build one more advanced version. Hopi sticks, for example, are built a lot more aerodynamic than basic survival throwing sticks. They are usually made from a naturally curved branch, often oak, and they have a flattened, teardrop-shaped cross-section. As a result, they have a much greater range, and they are a lot more accurate than their primitive predecessors.

Since I had no curved hardwood branch itself, I decided to build one. Out of a discarded wooden birch pallet I recuperated a couple of boards that I carefully sawed at 45 °. The four strips were then glued together at an angle of 135 ° and then profiled with pocket knife, plane, sandpaper and a bit of patience. Natural oil finished the job.

  • length no handle side: 30cm (outer edge to top tip)
  • length handle side: 36cm (top tip to edge)
  • width: 5cm
  • thickness: 2.5cm
  • weight: 450 gr

Step 4: 60 Meter Range!!! (65 Yards)

Picture of 60 Meter Range!!! (65 Yards)

As with all hunting it is necessarily good to know your prey. Knowledge is power. Rabbits graze at dusk, for example. Find their dens, hide from the wind, get a free throw zone etc. A good hunter is a smart hunter. Good material is useless if there is no knowledge behind it. The advantage is, hunger is a good school. You'd be surprised how quickly you learn with a growling stomach.

To use your stick, throw it like a frisbee to a particular object. Horizontal, move from your pelvis. Look where he falls down and memorize the distance according to the power that you used to sway him away. Practice, practice, practice. A trained hunter is a good hunter. The better trained you are, the more you will have to eat if it comes down to survival.

With this stick I achieved a range of more than 60 meters (65 yards), with an almost straight flight.

With a bit practice I achieved a quite good accuracy, on an optimum target distance (the maximum distance of getting the beer bottle target almost all the time) of about 30m.

I was not expecting this result at all, to be honest. This turns out to be a large underestimated weapon, since no one is talking about it. But I must say, it is great fun to throw, and I believe it is deadly accurate in the skilled hand.

Once again, I have become more convinced that our ancestors were correct...

I hope you enjoyed this Ible, and that you will use your power wisely.


Ensensu (author)2017-10-29

I've been wanting to make one of these the way you did. However, I lack a scrap pallet to cut and a way to tell what exact wood the pallet is made from. I would also like to know how you got what I presume to be a length of wood 4 inches thick down to about an inch. What tools did you use?

FourOaksCrafts (author)2016-03-11

Nice tutorial! I've hunted rabbit with shotgun and Beagle before, but not like this. Sounds intriguing.

harter112 (author)2014-11-24

please make a video of you hunting with this

harter112 (author)2014-11-24

please make a video of you hunting with this

JM1999 (author)2014-10-11

"Unlike boomerangs, rabbit sticks are not built to return. On the contrary, they flie in a straight line, and are often much heavier because they are built to inflict damage."

Boomerangs come in different types, you have made a hunting boomerang, the Australian Aboriginals used returning boomerangs to scare the flock of birds out of the trees and then they threw the heavier and faster hunting boomerang o hopefully get one.

Just a little bit of misinterpretation there.

Good job on the win though!

lederhoseleo (author)JM19992014-11-06

Thank you for cleering that out JM, next time I will try to build a boomerang that really returns!

JM1999 (author)lederhoseleo2014-11-06

Make sure you get the angles right on each end of the boomerang or it won't fly right.

You will probably do a bit of research but be sure to make one side flat and the other side curved like an aerofoil!

neutron.modulator (author)JM19992014-10-12


Great instructional. I have to agree with JM1999 your design is somewhere between a "killer" boomerang and a Nulla Nulla.

Where I grew up the hunters of the Njikena tribe had veritable collection of different Boomerangs, Waddies(Nulla Nulla), Woomera's and Spears to select from depending on the game they where hunting and terrain.

Great Job.

Thank you very much! The more I am reading about those hunters the more my respect grows...

JM1999 (author)neutron.modulator2014-10-12

Exactly, they used many different types of weapons and devices just to get a meal!

They didn't have the convenience of driving down to the store and buying whatever they wanted - it was much tougher back then.

Technoaussie (author)2014-10-12

There are actually two types of Boomerangs. One, a more or less ceremonial weapon for return flight (often used on birds) and one for killing larger game such as kangaroos or (heaven forbid -- people). The killing version boomerang does not return. It is quite heavy (often made from red gum, a particularly dense Australian hardwood.

If it did return, the creature it was aimed at would know from where the threat came from and casually move in the opposite direction or just sit and have a good old laugh as the thrower attended to their broken arm or hand they used to try and arrest it's flight! These things, in the hand of one of my cousins who specializes in traditional hunting methods and edible desert foods... Could easily and silently kill a man at 100 yards.

I will try not to become a neighbour of your cousin! Thank you for your comment, also.

buildandsewandstuff (author)2014-10-10

does the shape have to be changed for a left-handed thrower, or do you just flip it over and throw leftie?

knut (author)buildandsewandstuff2014-10-12

Beeing a boomerang builder and studying this instructable I would say this design is fully symetric - so just turn the other side up and throw with the left. Have also payed a little with a heavy hunting stick - over twice the sie of this one. I myself could throw that about 80m, but a stronger man shouldd be able to get it well beyond the 100m mark. The flight path is very flat for this type of stick.

lederhoseleo (author)knut2014-11-06

You had the sharp eye and you are totally true, thank you!

I was thinking the same thing, being a Southpaw myself. Since I got some scrap pallet pieces laying around, I was gonna try this one myself, and add the grip to the opposite side. I'll publish pix if I do.

lederhoseleo (author)crkrjak20012014-11-06

Good luck!

My friend who has one left hand used it and there was no difference at all. Contrary to the shape of a boomerang that is shaped to return this design is like a drop, and not like a wing.

Just flip it and throw leftie. If a person builds it with the handle on the opposite side, it will look exactly the same as if you flipped it.

rimar2000 (author)2014-10-12

Very interesting.

I suggest you an easy general trick: if you include in the images a standard object whose size is universally known, you are giving an idea of all sizes. Example: human hands are all of similar sizes, except those of babies.

lederhoseleo (author)rimar20002014-11-06

Thank you rimar, great tip! I will use my grandfathers teeth next time for size comparison. ;)

Ottoclav (author)2014-10-12

Hey this a great idea. Can you do a video on the demonstration of its use?

lederhoseleo (author)Ottoclav2014-11-06

I am working on it! ;)

kenobi (author)2014-10-12

Boomerangs can be heavy & deadly too, depends on how you make it & for what.

lederhoseleo (author)kenobi2014-11-06

That is a great truth!

Ultra-Indigo (author)2014-10-10

that is a beautiful stick with the red markings looks primitive. reminds me of a broken hockey stick, would that work fly strait even with a curved blade?

Honestly, I don't know. But I find this is such a great idea!

zstarkovich (author)2014-10-10

Very cool and btw your english is better than people that i know who have spoken it their whole lives

lederhoseleo (author)zstarkovich2014-11-06

Thank you very much!!! ;)

grannyjones (author)2014-11-04

Can I use one on the two-legged skunks that stole the last of my peaches?

shizumadrive (author)2014-10-12

If you could soak and bend the stick (for either I guess) you'll get a stronger stick.

What I'm really wondering is if I can legally use one of these to go rabbit hunting.

You should give your local game wardens/conservation officers and ask. Some places have actual rabbit seasons.

Rabbit seasons I know they have. But the tools and when I can use them vary. Like Atlatl's are allowed during deer bow season. But there is a bow season for rabbit.

It much more confusing than it should be

ArcticNemo (author)2014-10-12

The hunting principle here is stunning the critter, not an outright kill. You must dash in and snag the animal to finish; some may like a light club here, or just wring the neck.

bcavaciuti (author)ArcticNemo2014-10-18

A good design for a club (borrowed from the Masaai warriors of Kenya) is to use a branch as the handle with the head of the club (spherical) is carved out of the trunk of the tree. It makes an extremely durable club which you can make any weight you like.

They use it as defense against wild dogs and other dangerous wildlife. A few designs have a wooden nipple on the striking point which prevents the club slipping off the target so all the force is transmitted into the target.

jackoftheforest (author)2014-10-12

How long is this rabbit stick?

Thanks for the great instructable

M2aestro (author)2014-10-12

You can also make a grooved stick, with a receiving / throwing end to hold pebble or rock, and use that stick as the extension of your arm to propel the stone at higher velocity / longer distance. As a kid I found it easy to throw pebbles 150 yards, far enough from house to get in trouble for it.

NickHunter (author)2014-10-10

Was glue the only thing used at the intersection of the pieces? If so is it strong enough to withstand very many impacts with the ground?

CherylTX (author)NickHunter2014-10-12

Wood glue will withstand the impacts. I've had to try and take apart things that were wood-glued; the wood splintered and broke away but the glued seam never gave way.

CherylTX (author)CherylTX2014-10-12

Notice that his joints are overlapped though. Not just the angle glued to the side of the other piece.

ArtisanEclectic (author)2014-09-21

This looks like it could be a good use for an old busted axe handle.

Great idea, let me know how it turned out!

VentureScout (author)2014-09-19

This is one I must try, thanks (looking forward to the update!)

Even if you're not hunting with it is just great fun to play, you'll see!

About This Instructable




More by lederhoseleo:The Rabbit Stick Hunter
Add instructable to: