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At 9:00am I received a phone call from a local landowner I have permission from, the rabbits had returned in numbers, and they wanted them thinning out a bit, so I said I'd be down in the afternoon.

 

The weather was pretty bad through the morning, and by 3:00pm had blown over, so I grabbed my rifle and set off to the farm.

 

I pulled up in the drive, retrieved my rifle from the back seat, and headed towards the fields.

 

Straight away I spotted a huge buck feeding in the open, I scoped him.

He tumbled down the banking towards me.

 

I collected him, and approached the next feeding area. 2 rabbits were sat in the open, 1 was feeding, the other was scratching her head with her hind foot, so I froze. They paused and looked at me, then returned to their activities. I scoped the 1 scratching her head.

She rolled over, and her friend ran for cover. Less than a minute on the land and I had 2 in the bag.

 

Was this a sign of things to come? I hoped so!

 

Jim, the owner spotted me collecting the 2nd rabbit, and approached, we chatted for a while, and then I headed to another feeding area.

 

I counted 12 rabbits sat out, and scoped 1 that was 25 yards out.

He didn't move, 7 of the others ran for cover, leaving 4 in the open. I scoped 1 sat 45 yards away, and missed, they all stayed put. I re-cocked the rifle, and scoped him again, I aimed slightly high. Another miss and still they all stayed put. I cocked the rifle again.

He flopped to the floor.

 

The other 3 were still in the opening about 45 yards away, so I scoped another, aiming slightly above again.

It started jumping around the field, throwing its body around. It stopped thrashing about, so I took a step forward and took another shot, then it set off running for cover, dragging its hind legs behind it, and made it to cover. I went in search, but found a hole where it had disappeared. I looked around the area, to see where the others had gone, but figured they all went in the same hole.

 

As I started heading back across the clearing, I spotted a large rabbit squatting into the opposite banking, I sighted in on him, and there was a strand of sheep-fencing in my line of fire, so I aimed for the chest.

He started flopping about, then paused, I took another shot, and hit him again, so went to collect him.

 

As I approached him, I spotted another tucked into the foot of a wall about 40 yards away, so grabbed a quick shot at him.

He set off, then scrambled into the wall and disappeared, so I collected my bag.

 

I went back to Jim to have a chat and let the rabbits settle down, and return to feed. Jim was impressed that I was making such a dent in the rabbits in such a short time. I'd only been there about 1/2 hour and already got 4 in the bag, and had mortally wounded 3. Wounding rabbits isn't something I do intentionally, but it happens to every hunter sometimes. I always aim for the kill, but it doesn't always go to plan. I always do my best to follow up wounded game, but when they disappear into a bury, there's not much you can do to retrieve them.

 

I pulled the rabbits from my camouflage jacket's 'Poacher's pocket' and lay them near where Jim was working. He commented "The fox will collect the wounded, but I know you'd rather have them!" and I sure would have.

 

After a long chat about when he used to go rabbiting, I set off again. The rabbits were out again, and I hit a couple more. I had a wander round, and got a couple more shots, but didn't get the rabbits.

 

I went back and chatted to Jim again, he told me that he has 2 more farms with around 200 acres each with rabbits, and I'd be welcome to hunt them too when I'd got this one under control, I then collected my bag, and headed back towards my car. I checked the feeding areas as I passed, and spotted 3 rabbits sat out.

 

I sighted in on 1 sat about 45 yards away, I aimed slightly high.

He keeled over without a kick, then the strangest thing happened.

 

1 of the other rabbits casually hopped over to the dead rabbit, and just looked at it. It was as if it was seeing if it was OK, a sort of: 'Are you OK?, you just keeled over!' approach.

 

I sighted in on him quickly, and squeezed the trigger.

I missed and the pellet hit the Nettles behind him. He spooked and ran into the Nettles where there's a decent sized bury.

 

I collected no.5 and headed back to the car. I checked the other areas as I passed them, but only saw the movements of the Snap Dragons as the rabbits ran through them.

 

I'll be returning again very soon, and hopefully get another bag similar to today.

The catch (17/7/04)

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