Friday, March 21, 2008

Pot a rabbit

The ancient hunting instinct is deep in all of us, and eventually everybody who shoots feels the urge to go and bag something for the pot.

For most of us the rabbit is the obvious quarry. If you are going to shoot live animals you must ask yourself two questions. Can I eat it, or is it a pest? If an animal doesn’t fall into one of those categories you should never shoot it. Unluckily for the rabbit, he falls into both.

Rabbits taste delicious. They are also very easy to cook and just about the healthiest meat you can eat. But they also do enormous damage to farm crops, which is good news if you shoot. While a farmer or landowner would probably have a fit if you asked to shoot his pheasants there is a good chance that he might let you shoot rabbits, provided he is happy that

• You are absolutely safe with a gun

• You will always behave responsibly

• You are a reasonably accurate shot

• You will shoot rabbits and nothing else

It may not be easy to convince someone that this is the case, but if you can find and contact the person who shoots the land and prove yourself to them , you will be well on the way.

The great thing about rabbits is that there are so many ways you can shoot them. For many people stalking with an air rifle is absolutely the best sport. You will have to learn how to use cover, to move silently, how to avoid alarming other creatures that might betray your presence, and how to stalk upwind so the rabbit doesn’t catch your scent. In fact learning your fieldcraft is half the fun. And with an air rifle you must get very close to your quarry to guarantee killing it cleanly.

You will also find that books will tell you about the life and ways of the rabbit - when it feeds, how weather conditions affect it, how it behaves. To be a hunter you have to be a naturalist, and like any predator, you must understand your prey.

We hunt the rabbit because it is a test of skill, because it is an agricultural pest, but best of all, because it tastes delicious – if you haven’t had barbecued bunny you haven’t lived.

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