Wednesday, 4 February 2009

On the right tracks...

Don't let the current cold snap put you off getting out with your airgun - because you'll be missing out on discovering some of your shoot's innermost secrets!

In my part of the world, so far we've been lucky. No more than 7 cm. of snow. It's still brought the region to a grinding halt, mind you. Traffic chaos; panic buying; schools closed and local radio programmes announcing in almost Dictator-like fashion: "Stay in your homes!"

Not me. I loaded up the car and headed off to one of my farms. For 'headed', read 'skated, skidded and slid'! But I made it in one piece and enjoyed a great few hours of walkabout with my Theoben in what turned out to be quite a warm and sunny winter's day.

There wasn't as much quarry about as I'd expected. The magpies were scavenging, but the crows remained in their woodland roosts. The woodies were tight into the ivy on the usual trees and very few bunnies had ventured above ground.

As I've written in Sporting Shooter magazine, there aren't a great deal of rabbits on my patch and those that I know of need to be taken out at pretty long ranges.

But the snow revealed a picture of this farm that I had never imagined. There are rabbits (or hares, perhaps?) aplenty... and a lot closer to the farmyard than I'd imaged.

Criss-crossing the fields were the tell-tale signs of foxes, badgers, deer... and oh so many rabbits. Great news for when the warmer months arrive - and although I've never seen any here in daylight hours, I now know where to set up with my lamp!

Rabbits certainly seem to travel a long way. I tracked one set of bunny-prints two fields and two paddock areas - more than 600 yards - before I lost them in a hedgerow. Amazingly, this particular bunny chose to go through gate entrances, rather than through bolt-holes in the hedgerow (which other rabbits clearly favoured). It was exactly the route a human would have taken when travelling between these two points!

I didn't get a shot off, but it was by no means a wasted foray. I've taken note of a good few rabbit routes, warren entrances and mid-field stop-off points on a patch of land I only hitherto used for zeroing.

I feel like I've got a brand new permission and can't wait for my first sortie on it...

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