Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Hunting Rabbits In The UK Pt1

I've always hated that 'coming home from holiday' feeling, so when my plane landed at Gatwick, (or Gay Wick as the spell checker on my phone calls it) I thought I'd use the opportunity to soften my landing by going rabbit hunting on the way home.McShug lives fairly near the airport, he and I have been trying to catch up for what must be about a year now. We've beaten Pheasants and Stalked Fallow deer together, but this time we're going for the most 'english' of shooting on the most english of 'permissions'.

Majestic 'Thetford Red' Stags on Lord Pushbarrow-Handcart's estate?
Woodland stalking Roe Bucks with a David Lloyd .240's?
Sniping Muntjac from a golf course with a moderated .223?
Parkland Fallow with a .275 Rigby?
Sadly not!
This time it's Rabbits with a sub 12ftlbs air rifle on the village cricket pitch! How English is that? There are loads of ways to take bunnies, James and I used Ferrets, but this is the way generations of English boys have honed their riflery and filled the pot.

The weaponry of choice for the day: McShug's rig is the Air Arms TDR in .22 and very nice it is too. Where most manufacturers give you a naff 'james bond' style briefcase from Air Arms the whole Take Down Rifle rig fits in it's own neat backpack with space for your 'pod and tin of pellets. I was encouraged to note that the moderator/silencer is a vast improvement on the one that came with my older Air Arms S400. AA rifles are fantastically accurate, and even with a hefty Harris bipod and a scope fitted the TDR is still a very light rifle, super short and point-able. Ideal for protecting a cricket pitch from the curse of the were-bunnies. One advantage of the takedown format is that if and when you need to leave the land you have permission to shoot on and use a public footpath to skirt round to another position, the rifle is easy to deactivate and conceal. I've often thought about getting one myself, but until my daughter made such a convincing start to her shooting career I didn't really have a excuse to buy myself a specially light, short air rifle. But now...

The ground is small but perfectly formed, lovely mown grass to entice the bunnies and hedgerow on all four sides for them to burrow under, with big open fields on all sides. Perfect.
We drive on to the rough stuff outside the oval and start setting up and glassing the hunting ground. Straight away there are two rabbits in a stalk-able position about 150 yards away, a little more glassing the hedgerow and we sight another only 50 yards away and in an even better position! As we take the first tentative steps, there's a rustle in the hedgerow and a chump walking a dog blows it for us! That 17HMR is starting to look like a good idea, but this is Rabbit hunting rather than rabbit shooting - the stalk to within 35 yards is the name of the game, sadly some vegetarianism sometimes comes into it. 

We breach the fence and getting on to the foot path that runs down one side of the oval make the trip round the outside of the permission, but by the time we're starting to stalk back the light goes and we head for the pub. Somewhere in my gear pile I have a gun mountable flashlight so next time Mr Bunny, next time.
On the drive to the pub where we pass though the flint villages of East Sussex. Where the chocolate-box cottages are built from 'faced' flint and McShug drops a most excellent local history fact. We pass, the now sadly closed, Hungry Monk restaurant that was the birthplace of the Banoffi Pie. Not something you see every day.

No rabbits were harmed during the writing of this blog post. Bah!
More soon

True Banoffi Pie Recipe HERE
PS Air Arms make some very sweet rifles, and are the UK seller of the S200 which is made with CZ and available in the US as the CZ S200. Very sweet especially for the price.

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