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Horrible Moment In A Brilliant Night's Shooting. Has This Happened To You?


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#1 pianoman

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 03:29 am

Gentlemen.

 

As those of you who know my writings here, I have a particular distaste for wounding my quarry. Vermin or not, I cannot abide un-necessary suffering inflicted on a living creature just because it has a price on its head as a pest. That's why I only buy the best kit for my shooting needs.

 

So, last evening and with a call from one of my permissions with a rape field getting hammered by rabbits I took out my beloved HW77 .22 rifle and zeroed up. A 5p size group of 15 AA Field .22 5.52mm at 30 metres and we're ready to go. There are horses in a meadow where I shoot on this permission and accuracy is vitally important. As if it's not already.

 

It's been beautiful weather here in my bit of Lincolnshire at Coningsby and I was raring to be out in the sunset air and get down to the business in the fields. There were rabbits out in the meadow next to the rape and here is where I would shoot this evening.

 

My first two shots were two really satisfying kills on two rabbits, clean through their heads at 63 and 59 metres, I expected the female would bolt as soon as her mate flipped over but, no. She sat frozen to the spot and she was dead in a moment later. I thought my rifle and I were well on form now. This is one seriously, incredibly accurate spring rifle and, for me, the HW77 is the finest spring air rifle you can buy without an FAC. I've shot hundreds of rabbits with this rifle and not one of them suffered a slow death from wounding. That's why I love the '77 so much.

 

So, about half an hour later out pops this large, full grown adult buck rabbit. Only 23 yards or so away from my hide. I thought I would spook it just trying to move my rifle into aim, but, there he is, just sat nibbling away.

 

CRACK!

 

My shot hit it clean into the head. It instantly backflipped and began writhing....and writhing. Then rolling and turning over violently. Blood was pouring out of the side of its head from a point on its head I could see was right on the button to have killed it outright. But it was still breathing and rolling over and over.

 

I reloaded quick, got into aim, got my breathing down and fired a SECOND shot which hit it on the opposite side of its head to the first shot. Still it spun over and kicked like hell. Still breathing. I could see it was in absolute agony.

 

A quick reload and shot number THREE hit it clean between the eyes through its forehead.  STILL it kept on writhing, slower now but, I saw it was still breathing as it gasped for air and its chest rose and fell.

 

The FOURTH shot hit behind its right eye, almost onto the first one. That, mercifully, put it out of its misery and killed it.

 

Four shots from a full-power .22 rifle that has never yet once, inflicted less than a humane killing shot first time.. All of them in the heads. Any one of these shots would have easily killed another rabbit instantly, no problem. But not this one. Its head was in such a hell of a mess I couldn't tell where it had been actually hit. Any one of the four of them should have been enough.

 

I've recently slipped my HW77 into an HW97K Bavarian sporter stock and the handling and balance are so good, it;s staying put.  It looks beautifully elegant and classically proportioned and the tartan chequering is a very welcome feature.

 

My scope is a vintage Bushnell Scopechief 4-14x50 with a 30/30 reticle. It holds zero all day and night, however many shots it has to withstand and is superbly pinsharp clear. Together with my '77 it puts a professional's hunting air rifle in my hands and get's on with the job without fuss.

 

I went on to bag a total of 7 rabbits including this one, for the time I was out. The other six went down like all others before. A fast and painlessly merciful death.

 

It hasn't put me off hunting rabbits with my HW77. But it makes me wonder still, if this might happen again and should we not be ready to expect this from time to time?.

 

All the best and hope it doesn't happen to you.

 

Simon


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#2 Bunnyblatter

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 05:37 am

It is distressing mate and I dare say its happened to most of us who hunt. Like you say, all our quarry deserves an instant death.
I have had this happen before and I'm fairly sure the animal is dead but its just the body shutting down. If it was screaming then I'd guess it was dead.
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#3 Coypu Hunter

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 06:36 am

It's called residual synaptic capacitance, and does infrequently result in such an extreme reaction.

 

Twitches and kicks are quite common, as you know, as the residual electrical charge in the nervous system bleeds off. That plus adrenaline -- rabbits and other quarry are normally on a hair-trigger, always on the point of flight from a threat -- can result in the effect you saw. Adrenaline can keep the heart pumping, resulting in gouts of blood from severed arteries. The autonomic nervous system can keep the chest heaving, trying to force air into lungs to send oxygen to the legs and carry the animal to safety, even after it's dead.

 

It can be alarming, but the correct response is what you did -- make sure with a follow-up shot (or three!). It's very unlikely that the rabbit would have been feeling anything after the first shot, which was correctly placed. The rabbit didn't run off screaming, so it wasn't "wounded". As humans, we do tend to look at an animal writhing and think "it's suffering", when in fact it's simply muscle spasms contorting the rabbit's face.


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#4 Mister Gain

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 06:53 am

Only been shooting for 3 years, but had similar with kits (farmer wants ALL rabbits gone) where the shot is bang on, but they vigorously flip about for a while which makes a follow-up shot impossible, so have to break cover and chin them. Never had this with an adult rabbit, but had it last year with a juvenile rabbit. A 25 yard shot, bang on the money and it just fell over and lay there not moving. Went and retrieved it, picking it up by the back legs and it started flipping about, it was wearing its's brain on the outside (exit wound) so should have been dead, so I chinned it and it stopped moving. Laid it on the grass next to where I was plotted up, and noticed that every so often the fur/skin would sort of shiver for a few seconds.

 

Speaking to my very experienced shooting mates they both said loads of kits seem to do that, and they have even had full grown rabbits do it despite being hit with a ballistic tipped HMR round and all the brain and half the head missing.

 

It would be interesting to know why this happens. The only thing that links these instances, in my case, is that the pellet has exited.

 

This photo shows the damage to the juvenile rabbit. (Mods, if this is too graphic feel free to delete it)

 

Attached File  Photo0074small.jpg   226.98KB   0 downloads

 

Good explanation Coypu Hunter, thanks.


Edited by Mister Gain, 25 April 2015 - 07:01 am.

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#5 random

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 07:31 am

Good thread and point raised,and quite clearly explained I feel,it is one of those moments that makes your heart rate pick up,as bad as it may look I think this is why we need a good understanding of what we are doing,as well as good and vital shot placement we need to know a bit about what the impact is doing to the quarry and effects it will have,we have all been in this situation and needed a follow up shot and have had the horrible minute reflecting upon it,its clear you care a great deal about causing zero suffering and are an ambassador for the sport simon so don't feel down about it,its food for thought for us all and shows the importance of practise and knowledge and when this point is raised like this by respected people such as yourself it sticks in the mind and is then something we are aware of when we pick up a gun for sometime to come...
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#6 jonnie bravo

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 07:59 am

Great shooting, that 77 sounds like one sweet gun.

Don't beat yourself up about the rabbit, it's clear to see you did everything in your power to make sure it was a humane kill. If you were to replay it all again, it would have gone exactly the same way. I think it's brilliant that hunters are placing so much emphasis on a clean kill, but we don't give ourselves enough credit for how short the quarries suffering is.
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#7 bigmac 97kt

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 08:35 am

We have all had this happen to us at one point or the other

 

the ones i hate is when you line the shot up the weather is good next to no wind and its at your zero distance your breathing is spot on the cross hairs slowly come down and its on the kill zone you squeeze the trigger and the just as the pellet leaves the barrel the rabbit turns its head

 

result , you hit it but not in the kill zone ,then you have to do a follow up shot or run over and dispatch it another way

 

things like that are not our fault shit happens but it dose not make us feel any better

 

but its the same with a deflection resulting in a miss or a bad hit these things happen

 

By the way Simon nice bag bud and cracking shooting

 

atvbmac :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs:


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#8 Lab

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 08:37 am

The first shot had it dead, let's be honest. Nerves played a big part in it jumping about.
Maybe next time instead of trying to shoot it too death get up and wring its neck if it bothers you so much.
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#9 chrismdd

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 01:46 pm

As mentioned it happens to all of us and what you described was probably just nerves.

 

We ferret throughout the colder months and a quick dispatch of rabbits by chinning or stretching their necks will often leave them kicking around on the ground even though they are obviously dead (a touch of the eyeball always confirms it).

 

Last night one of mine had to be dispatched by stretching even though I expected that it was near enough dead with the shot just going a bit low (duff pellet, wind picked up, poor estimation of distance, rabbit moved at last second - who knows?).

 

Compared to other fieldsports I believe that use of quality air rifles is one of the most humane and quickest ways of dispatching our quarry.

 

During the shooting season I beat on a local shoot and often you will see birds pricked and picked up later, but they've had a far better life than the lorry loads of livestock that I pass on my way to work queuing up at the local abattoir. 


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#10 The one

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 02:56 pm

As said it happens to us all most go down like a tonne of bricks the odd one  does a bit of disco dancing  and your doing nothing diffrent its just the adrenialin  kicking  in that now why i take  the lab  with me as this time of year you can loose a kicker in the cover 


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#11 pianoman

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 04:31 pm

Thank you everyone for excellent and thoughtful answers. :hmm: It was the fact that I saw its body rise and fall as if it was breathing, as it finally slowed down and stopped bucking and rolling over, despite three very decisive hits to its head that caused me concern. Only the fourth one put an end to the extreme thrashing I saw it make. :hmm:

 

I'll break the neck and have it over finished with next time. :thumbs:

 

All the best.

Simon


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#12 Coypu Hunter

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 04:46 pm

I once shot a coypu that I'd trapped through the top of the head at what's mistakenly called point-blank range, i.e. from a few inches away. The pellet went straight through after transiting the brain. Ten minutes later, after I'd poured it out of the trap and come back with a sack to dispose of the corpse, the body was still heaving, as though the animal was trying to roll over. No respiration, no blink reflex, it was as dead as a door-nail, but still moving around.

 

I've heard say that cows' ears twitch for ages after they've been removed in the abattoir... Haven't tried that with a coypu, though... :hmm:


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#13 squab

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 04:59 pm

Jesus mate it was a dead rabbit twitching not someone's child hit by a random shot in a war zone,perhaps you should stick to target shooting,you got hands stop wasting pellets and use them dear oh dear what ever next ffs
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#14 Bunnyblatter

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 08:48 pm

Jesus mate it was a dead rabbit twitching not someone's child hit by a random shot in a war zone,perhaps you should stick to target shooting,you got hands stop wasting pellets and use them dear oh dear what ever next ffs


You obviously don't have the same thought for our quarry.
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#15 bigmac 97kt

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 08:53 pm

 

Jesus mate it was a dead rabbit twitching not someone's child hit by a random shot in a war zone,perhaps you should stick to target shooting,you got hands stop wasting pellets and use them dear oh dear what ever next ffs


You obviously don't have the same thought for our quarry.

 

:thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs:

 

Just what i was thinking

 

atvbmac :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs:


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