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Shooting Diary -- Contains Pictures

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Went out late this afternoon for a trip to my local permission and to see what was about. Encouragingly, there were more rabbits today than I had seen for several months and shows that the rabbits are breeding again and well on my shoot. I took position in my favourite "sniper" area and waited for the rabbits to emerge again -- and when they did it would be the "business end" of this which would greet them:




Half an hour passed and I noticed movement in the next field, where I also have permission. A young adult emerged from a burrow on the other side and so I slowly moved the rifle set up -- fitted with a Harris bipod and Dr Bob's bottle clamp -- towards that position to see if a shot was "on". I felt it was too risky in that position because the field of view through a gap in the hedge was not wide enough to make me satisfied safety-wise. I needn't had worried anyway because the rabbit came bounding towards my position, seemingly oblivious to my presence. It sneaked through the hedge and I realised it was heading for the sunshine on my side of the bank. While it moved through the bushes, I moved the rifle back to the original position and simultaneously set the Bushnell Elite back to x6 magnification for what I thought would end up a close-range shot. Indeed it was and the rabbit hopped onto the bank barely 20 yards ahead of me.


At this point the rabbit had well and truly clocked me and was bolt upright, staring. I was wearing full camoflauge with a face mask and hat and remained motionless. Well motionless apart from the slightest -- but nevertheless undetectable -- movement of my left hand to position the mildot crosshair two tenths of an inch or so below the kill zone between the eye and the ear. My rapid is currently enjoyable a delectable diet of HW Magnum pellets in .22 (20.2 grains or so) which delivers pellet-on-pellet accuracy at 40 yards using the bipod. I squeezed the trigger and the shot let off with what sounded like a shotgun compared to the whisper-quiet HW100 at 12ft/lbs. The shot connected perfectly and the rabbit tumbled over. What also struck me was the immense crack of the pellet on impact -- an real amount of power there. After consulting Chairgun, at that range the HW Magnum is travelling at 750fps and delivering 26.6 ft/lbs of energy at the target.





I waited another twenty minutes but I think everything else was very spooked by this shot and so I moved into the next few fields. Part of the land is owned by a construction company and sublet to a sheep farmer. I have made a point of not only securing permission directly from the farmer, but also the landowner too. The latter was immensely grateful for a nice bottle of scotch a couple of weeks ago (it pays to look after your permissions in more ways than one!) The second field along has an abundance of rabbits and I need to next time think more carefully about my approach because I saw around ten dart off as they saw my wandering across the adjacent field looking like the Incredible Hulk. By this time the sun was setting and because of my lack of night vision (for now ;) ) I decided to call it a day. Only one rabbit but it was a satisfying afternoon out. I intend to return tomorrow morning at 0630 to catch them unawares at the other end of the day ;)



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Here's one I did last May:


There’s nothing worse when looking forward to an afternoon of shooting than finding out you cannot find something. Today was going swimmingly after charging the S410 to 170 bar, grabbing the tub of penetrators, getting all the gear together and picking up my newly acquired pellet pouch. But where the hell was the Logan beanbag seat? There's no way I'm sitting anywhere for any length of time without that under me. Time was marching on so I left the house without it -- what a nuisance.


Today was going to be interesting because it was the first time out hunting with the Bushnell Legend 5-15 x 40. In zeroing sessions in the garden it's proved to be optically superb and lighter than my Falcon Merlin. With the long summer evenings there's little need for IR and I love the wide field of view in this special mildot scope.


Got to the farm and it was surprisingly warm. The fields are large and you can easily get caught out with cold winds blowing across so I was wearing a T-shirt underneath a dark, light sweatshirt. I've more or less given up on camouflage clothing because I'm doing just fine without it.


I haven't been shooting for three weeks or so and the combination of heavy rain and summer sunshine meant the flora had gone really wild in the country. Opening the iron gate takes me to my first port of call, the paddock area where grass was now at the height of my shins. But that wasn't what caught my attention and caused me to take a detour from my routine. A group of four little visitors was now inhabiting the paddock and I couldn't help but smile and wander over to say hello. Here is one of the fellows:




I didn't want to disturb them, so after I unzipped the gun bag, I removed the S410, loaded the magazine and clipped the pellet pouch to my belt and made my way off into the fields. Here is the kit for the day:




You may remember from my previous diaries that one particular hedge had been afflicted with mxymatosis and whenever rabbits emerge their eyes are swollen and they wander around in what can only be described as a living hell. Shooting really is the best way out for them. Today though there was little sign of life. The foliage was dense against the hedgerow with nettles providing a four-foot buffer zone.


The rifle was cocked and safety applied. Working the safety is a bit of a black art on the S410. It's just a little button which moves horizontally through one side of the trigger physically stopping it from being pulled once it is set. The trouble is you have to touch the trigger to apply / unapply it which is hardly ideal. I have a knack of using the middle and thumb on my right hand to set / unset it without applying any longitudinal forces to the trigger itself. So Arm Arms, if you are listening, I love the rifle but get the safety catch done properly!


There was not a peep along the first hedgerow so I moved along to the hedge on the back of the field. This is where the most rabbits can be found but it is the most difficult area to shoot them. They can see you for miles around and it doesn't take much for them to run for cover. As I worked the hedge, I saw movement to my ten o'clock. Out in the field were two distinctive ears popping up through the grass. Clearly the growth had given it a sense of security because it hadn't bolted and it must have seen my frame. So up came the rifle and I judged the distance as around 25 yards (so 30 really because I seem to underestimate in the field). The ears flicked and then the rabbit scuttled through the grass. The Legend kept tracking but suddenly ... nothing. The gun came down and I squinted ahead to see where it had gone. Still nothing. It was if the rabbit had melted away into the field. I guessed it was probably trying Tactic Number 2 in its Suite of Evasion Maneuvres . It was doing pretty well because the grass wasn't that high as you can see here




Rather desperately, I trotted deeper into the field determined to flush it out, even though it would bolt. Again nothing. From right beneath my eyes it had escaped. Sitting Bull would have been delighted and I moved on. Another 30 yards took me to my favourite resting spot on the shoot, a large oak tree.




This was also a useful spot to take a few pictures of the scope from my mobile phone. This is probably the best of the bunch and is about an 80% representation of what you see (the field of view is better).




At this point my tally was zero. But I find that shooting is like queuing for a buses and that's exactly what happened in the next ten minutes. Young rabbits emerged quite innocently from their burrows to take in the late afternoon sunshine. As quickly as they emerged, they were taken. I moved to another position for further shots.




I must mention one shot specifically. Two rabbits emerged from the earth and sat on the bank. By the time I had moved the rifle into position they were positioned side by side -- about 10 to 15 yards away -- so that I could only effectively see the nearest. The shot was on and a penetrator was dispatched. They both dropped. The penetrator must have gone through one and hit the other. Maybe this has happened to others but for me it was a first. I almost felt as if I should have apologised but it was rather late for that now.


Time to head back to the farm buildings and in particular, the cow shed. It's here that the rabbits are often seen by the farmer and that's where it's important to concentrate too. Walking through the grass I saw movement similar to that I had seen just after I had arrived. I moved in closer and the rabbit here didn't bolt. The poor thing. I stood over him and he was in the advanced stages of myxi. Eyes totally closed, it was wandering around like a lost ghost. He didn't see me and didn't even know I was there. The muzzle placed to the back of the head released him from his obvious pain.


Moving towards the shed, I had a quick peek though to see what was there. A large buck was sitting at the far end inside the shed. The shot hit him and he fell as if he had been a cardboard cutout. It seems that the older they are the more likely lethal shots will cause no additional movement.


I moved on out and back to the paddock area. By this time the Gang of Four was now at the far end and to my right. Just as well because to my left in the paddock was another victim of Myxi and it was another that was quickly dispatched.


I'd been at the farm a good two hours by now and felt it was time to head home. I collected the eight rabbits I had shot in total and once again the Common Buzzard which visits my garden had an easy meal. Two things stood out for me today: the first was that myxi had taken a greater hold on the farm and that concerned me; the second was that the farm had changed once more and it was a pleasure to see how it was developing as the year progresses. My first visit was in September last year. It wouldn't be long now before I could fully appreciate a full year of transformation. Thanks for reading!

Edited by C3PO

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And one from early May 2007:


I went back to the farm today for some shooting to break up a 6-day week at work. After several long days in the metropolis, and several more ahead, there's nothing better than the British countryside to help me unwind, at least temporarily.


This morning was spent at home doing a few chores so it wasn't until about 3pm that I trundled down the familiar quiet lane leading to my shooting area. You may recall that during my last visit the final 300 yards along the road gives a good indication of the number of rabbits around. Last time there weren't any. This time the omens were much better: six scattered within 30 yards.


The afternoon was a pleasant, late spring afternoon ... reasonably warm, a fair amount of sunshine and just enough breeze to give the hunter a head start against the noses of today's quarry.


The vast majority of my shooting lately has been confirmed to one 30 acre field, a shed which also serves as a home to any waif and stray of the cuniculus variety.


Walking through the gate I immediately noticed to my right a brown blob. Instinctively freezing on the spot, I slowly moved my head around to get a better view. This rabbit was barely 10 to 15 yards away, reasonable in size yet almost totally unconcerned by my presence. It was slightly odd to say the least. I slowly moved to the left away from him, unzipped my gunbag and removed the S410 charged to 175 bar. The gun was cocked and a magazine full of Air Arms Field in .22 was slotted into place. Slowly turning back I saw the rabbit was still there and merrily feeding away. Mmm...


I moved towards him and by the time I was at 15 yards again I brought the gun up to my eye. Through the scope the reason for his almost foolhardy manner was clear: the eyes were totally swollen up and he was unable to see -- he only had his smell as his primary sense and as the wind was blowing from him to me he didn't detect me. He'd been hit by mixi. I have to say I felt a great sense of sadness for him. I've heard and read that mixi is a terrible disease and this was the first time I had encountered it For Real . This rabbit didn't really have much of an idea of anything that was going on around him. From the realisation of his predicament, through to that sense of sadness, through to the killer shot was less than two seconds. Shooting really is a humane way of dispatching vermin; nothing, of course, deserves to die a painful death.


Half an hour later I met the farmer's wife walking her dogs on the other side of the field and she said mixi had indeed taken hold of the hedge area closest to the road. Both she, and the farmer, felt a sense of sadness too for the plight of those rabbits "...we must be getting old!" she said.


By this time I was now walking towards the shed area and looking out for rabbits there. Curiously, there was not a peep during half an hour of waiting at my usual spot against a gatepost. Time to move on...


My next rendevouz point was a small paddock area which last year was an enclosed grazing zone for the family goat. I'd always been reluctant to enter this area because the goat had horns. This year there has been no sign of goat and therefore no reason for me not to exploit another favoured area for the rabbits. At this stage in the proceedings I had secured two "kills". Things were about to change quite significantly...


My logun seat always accompanies me on hunting trips because the march of time does little to favour you in the posterior stakes. I dropped the seat next to a wall in the paddock area and sat around to see what would happen. The picture below shows my seated position:




The distance to the hedge at the far end of the picture is 32 yards (as measured by a laser rangefinder). My rifle / scope combination is zero-ed to 30 yards. Within the space of the next 60 minutes I dropped an additional 9 rabbits -- four large adults and five young ones. They just seemed to swarm to the area and quite oblivious to their kin lying stone dead on the grass. Three cam directly through the hedge and it was simply a matter of dead-centre crosshair on the kill zone and pull the trigger. The remainder ventured further in and required one mil dot "up" sighting correction on the scope to ensure a quick dispatch.


Today was my most productive hunting session ever. It may not be many for some but I felt a great sense of achievement on two fronts. I had, clearly, exceeded my tally in one day but also done a bit of a service on the grounds of humanity. I left thinking whether the scientists who had created such a disease had fully weighed up the pros and cons.


Before I left I met up with the farmer who was delighted with today's tally. This was the perfect point too, to ask a favour. "Would you mind a police firearms inspector examining your land for my application for a firearms certificate?" I asked slightly nervously. "Absolutely no problem, and good for you. Just let me know when they want to pop around." Great result ... and if my application is successful I'm hoping to acquire a Rapid Mk 2 from Ben Taylor @ 30 ft / lbs. Wish me luck!

Edited by C3PO

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Thanks again ... incidentally I mentioned that some of the rabbits were fed to a buzzard which visits my garden: here's the buzzard enjoying the proceeds of one of the days (don't worry, not gory). In management speak this would be called a "360 degree sesssion"




I incorrectly originally called it a hawk in the video page, whoops!


BTW, I loved the S410 -- super rifle. Only sold it becauseI fancied a change.

Edited by C3PO

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Perhaps just me but the links are missing... credit for the text though me old China.

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