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I had received a phone call from a lady near Preston, Lancashire, who had found me via my website, asking if I would ferret her garden to remove the pests. I had arranged with her a date, and this was it.

I took my air rifle (BSA Mercury S), 2 of my poley jills (Bandito & Jilly) and my lurcher (Flash).

 

I arrived at 2:20pm and started off by making my acquaintances with the lady, I was shown around the large garden, looking across the adjoining land I saw many rabbits grazing and watching us, and then we had a pot of tea and a chat about ferrets, ferreting, pests, squirrels, and the local wildlife.

From the evidence I had found in the garden, the rabbits that she keeps seeing are visitors, and were using a section of the boundary that was not rabbit-fenced.

 

I got Flash and the ferrets from the car, and the lady petted and handled Bandito & Jilly, she had never touched a ferret before, and was surprised at how soft, gentle & tame they were, she only had the image of Richard Whiteley and his guest's ferret episode. (I said that ferrets are not normally like that, and very few are biters, which is usually induced by a bad experience).

 

We went back up the garden to the single rabbit hole in the garden, I ferreted it but no one was home. There were plenty of scrapes, but only the 1 hole, which went about 2 feet then stopped.

 

I was then taken out of the garden and on to the adjoining land, and I had left the air rifle in the car, straight away we spotted a rabbit it bolted, but Flash did not see it.

Then we saw another dive into a bury, so this was the 1st to ferret.

I set the nets, and entered Bandito, wearing a locator collar.

I tracked her underground because of the mass of scrapes & burrows.

She popped in and out of the many holes, and at 1 point was 10 foot below the surface.

After nearly 10 minutes, the lady left to let her horse exercise in the field, she had not been gone more than a minute when the rabbit bolted and hit a net. Flash went to pin the rabbit, and I went to retrieve and despatch it, but the net had not pursed properly, as the rabbit hit the net it dragged and caught a stick, which kept the purse open. I grabbed the chord and the rabbit slipped the net, ran down the banking, and disappeared in the undergrowth. Flash chased, but came back empty-handed.

I let Bandito work the bury for a couple more minutes, but nothing else emerged.

 

I collected my nets and set off in search of another bury, in the direction the rabbit had gone.

What appeared to be warrens from a distance were mainly scrapes and the beginnings of new warrens.

On the field boundary where I had seen the rabbits grazing, I found 2 sets of 2-holers. I set nets on all 4 holes, just in case they were linked. The 1st proved empty, but Bandito made contact in the 2nd.

There were a few faint thuds, and Flash was ready. The rabbit bolted, the net pursed, and Flash pinned it.

Many ferreters think a lurcher should not touch the netted rabbits, but I believe that she is there for a purpose. If the rabbit is pinned, it does not attempt to slip the net. I retrieve it straight away and despatch it, so she can carry on watching the others.

Nothing else emerged from this bury, so I let Bandito worry her flush as a reward, while I collected my nets.

 

I headed into the field, so I could walk the boundary watching for movement.

As I neared the section I had just ferreted, the horse came thundering up the field towards us and spooked Flash. All she wanted to do was get the hell out of there, so thought the best place was to put me between her and the horse.

I climbed over the sheep netting and Flash ran back the way she had come, to get back to me.

As I climbed the fence, a small rabbit shot in to the bury I just had the rabbit from.

So I reset the nets and entered Jilly without a collar.

After a minute or so, there was a little rabbit squeal, and Flash was ready. Then Jilly emerged with blood on her muzzle.

I re-entered Jilly, to see if she had killed it, or if it would bolt, but it never did. So I entered Bandito wearing her collar, and tracked her to see where she stopped.

She paused in the middle, 2 foot deep, and then came out. I re-entered her again, she paused in the same place, and then emerged. So I started digging near the spot. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my folding spade at home, so had to use a stout stick and my hands.

I broke through to the tunnel, and reached in from all 3 entrances, but could not feel the rabbit. There was a deep drop just within reach from the new entrance, and I could not reach the bottom.

 

The lady arrived back at this point, and asked how I had done. I showed her my bag of 1 rabbit, and she said that while I was ferreting the banking, a large rabbit had sat in the garden washing itself in the same place we had drank our tea earlier.

 

I have been invited to return, also I am able to shoot the grey squirrels that live there too.

When I return next month, the horse will be kept in, so I can work the boundary with better effect, and the air rifle won't spook him, or he spook Flash.

 

When I returned to the car, she got out her digital camera and took a picture of me with Flash and the ferrets.

"I'll show this to the neighbour to prove you've been!" she said.

Flash ready for action Rabbit hole Rabbit hole Rabbit hole Bandito worrying her flush Bandito worrying her flush Bandito worrying her flush

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