At the time of writing this feature a bit of sadness is creeping in. The long sunny evenings are coming to an end and the thought of evening walks with the rifle after work will be a distant memory.
Don't get me wrong I will be looking forward to some frosty morning squirrel hunts and getting out with the lamp on those rabbits that are raw to the red filter but its not the same as getting bitten to death and being warm.
This feature will be a close to my summer hunts but it is to show just what can be achieved in just a couple of hours and why I like to just be able to pick the rifle up any evening and get out.
I had shot this ground a couple of days before and it was a real red letter session.
Within an hour I had taken 8 shots and had 8 kills , it seemed every corner I crept around had something feeding well within range.
I had decided to have another walk and take the camera this time as I thought taking the same route would be an easy feature to write up about as I was sure to shoot something.
I had loaded the Rapid up and with the head net and gloves on I set off.
It wasn't long before I got to the first location , it was in a quiet corner of one of the small cattle fields. There is a small thistle patch about 30 yards long and probably 10 feet wide. These thistle patches are always a winner for me as rabbits always seem to feed in between them.
You can look and not see anything in there at first and you get the tendency to step out to carry on to the next spot. I used to get caught out quite regular but if you really look hard you will often see a pair of ears moving amongst the thistles as the rabbit eats.
I will not move from my resting place until I had scanned and scanned again, failure makes you work hard and the rewards will show with time.
On this evening surprisingly there was no rabbits in there at all. Carrying on to the next spot that produced the last time again showed nothing out feeding but about 80 yards away on top of a bank I could see one out feeding.
As I had my camera with me this time I had to use a ruck sack and in this hot weather it was already getting warm so I took it off and carried on this stalk without it.
Also there is nothing worse when you think you are low enough to keep out of eyes way and you forget about the ruck sack and the rabbit runs off after seeing it over the nettles or long grass.
I had reached about half way and at this point the bank is high enough where you are out of view, the main task now is finding a place where you can creep up the bank and have somewhere to hide behind and take your shot.
I had got to the opposite end of the bank and only thirty yards from where the rabbit was feeding, the only draw back not seeing the rabbit was is it still in its original spot or had it moved.
I had crept up to a birch tree that had two thickish trunks that left a gap four feet up to shoot through.
The rabbit was pretty close to where I had spotted it so I slowly pushed the rapid through the gap and raised my head up behind the scope. I have been in this situation before in the winter and most times I get spotted as I lift my head up but this time of year the leaves give you a good backdrop and your camo blends in well leaving no silhouette in the gap.
With a good rest for the Rapid I lined the rabbit and pulled the trigger , the rabbit sunk to its stomach when the pellet struck and a couple of nervous twitches lay motionless for kill number one.
I gutted the rabbit and hid it in some long grass for retrieval later and carried onto my next hot spot.
It was a good 30 minutes and 5 hotspots later that I got my next chance. Tonight was not going to plan for some reason and the rabbits were not showing where they are usually on the dot.
This next chance was another rabbit feeding in the open in a corner of a horse paddock . The tricky part was now getting within range,but I had a plan. There were quite a few small jumps that had been placed in the field , these were thick tree trunks that were just thick enough to cover me if I kept really low.
I had slid like a snake for a good twenty yards , I had crossed from one jump to another always having something between me and the rabbit . There was hardly a breeze here and I had decided to take the rabbit from this last jump that I had reached.
Previous days shooting from this spot when ambushing them had shown 35 yards on the range finder so rather than chance being seen I was confident to take my shot from here.
The rabbit was happily feeding with it back to me, this helped enormously as I could rest the Rapid on the end of the log and shoot comfortable.
I lifted my head up just as the rabbit turned its head and my cover was blown. The rabbit looked straight at me and I could see it was ready to run for cover .
I wasted no time in putting the centre of the cross just above the middle of ear and eye and let the pellet do its worst.
With the rabbit gutted and hid I set off again in search of another.
Things did not got as well as the last time I was out and where ever I thought a rabbit would be there was nothing. I didn't want to give up with two rabbits for a feature in the summer as this is the time we should be having the best times on our grounds so I decided to go to a place that I have not been to for a while.
This part of ground has small bushy trees that have only just got high enough to get under comfortably. There is a mixture of Birch, Oak and Hazel and the grass is pretty long here so actually seeing a rabbit or anything in the trees is pretty hard, but I had a plan.
Over the years I have walked through the trees to other parts of the ground I have made a nice path through one row. This row is quite close to the edge of the field , there are rabbit burrows and large oak trees dotted along here so something should show up.
I had spotted a pile of fresh Hazel nut shells half way along the path and really made my mind up on what I was going to do.
Using the shadows under a Hazel tree I had planned to let the quarry come to me , I knew the squirrels were not going to be finished feeding yet and surely would be going back to that same spot to get more nuts to store fore the winter.
I was going to lie along the path but from the shadow I could see one of the big oaks that might just give me a chance of a pigeon and it would have no chance of knowing I was there.
I had been sitting still for around 20 minutes when movement no more than 10 yards in front of me caught my eye. I wasted no time turning the parallax down on the scope as I lifted it to my eye and scanned through the ferns where I last saw what ever it was move. It was a good minute before I finally spotted what it was. I had noticed a big eye looking through the ferns right at me , the sun had just shone through the trees and I could make out the pink glow of sunny rabbit ears.
The rabbit sat motionless , staring straight at me, I would love to know what it was thinking when it saw me as I am sure it did not have a clue what I was. I found a small gap where I could thread the pellet through to its brain and thump , number three was in the bag.
I didn't want to move from the shadows and give myself away so I cocked the Rapid ready for my next chance.
It was about 15 minutes from when I last shot the rabbit when I heard something right above my head. The Hazel tree is about ten foot high and unknown to me a squirrel had managed to sneak in and start pulling the nuts from the tree. I was sitting as still as possible scanning through the leaves when I noticed the grey fur no more than 5 feet above me. I know if I had been wearing the JackPyke LLCS suit I probably would have had it jump on me but as it got to the lower barer branches it spotted me. It froze solid for a few seconds before running straight down the clearing in front of me. I thought my chance had gone as I had tracked it through the scope but I noticed it looking at me from behind the thin trunk that it had disappeared behind. Resting the rapid on my knee I held a steady aim just behind its eye and as the pellet hit his head it curled up and dropped to the floor. I decided to go and pick up the rabbit that I had shot before and head back to a promising ambush point before the sun set low enough to loose the light.
This ambush has produced some good results as the rabbit numbers are quite high in the little spinney that runs next to a trailer. At this time of evening the sun shines longest here and the rabbits seem to sit out getting those last few rays and under the trailer the shadow gives you excellent cover.
I had been here for about 10 minutes when I had my first shot. Two three quarter grown rabbits had come from the cover together and rather than sit close to the edge of the fence line they ran straight out into the field. In this situation I try and get a shot of as soon as possible as I nearly always get a second shot as they are still pretty raw to rifles and to be honest if they had ever heard a shot they were certainly the lucky ones that didn't get the lead in their head. This pair succumbed to the .177 pellets , although the second one ran a couple of yards as it was startled from the first rabbits impact he joined its friend on the floor. I had managed to to get another in range before the sun dropped and finished with a pretty good bag considering the start I had.
Using the shadows worked a treat tonight where I had no problems in the sun the time before but it just goes to show if you work hard you will always get a result.