Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What it takes to bag a bunny

OK, you’ve got your rifle and other assorted equipment ready, your land’s ready so what’s the first thing you do? It may seem obvious but I always check that my rifle/scope combo is perfectly accurate before I set out on a stalk.

When approaching your prey, you should head into any breeze so that your scent is carried away from the rabbits, and this will also help drift away any small sounds you make – after all rabbits have big ears for a reason! Your movements must be slower than slow, especially on the final approach. You should never attempt to shoot a rabbit that’s more than 35 metres away, and only then with a headshot that will kill him cleanly.

If you look at the map below, I’ve sketched out a recent foray for you, and I’ll take you through a typical day out from the moment I left my car at the farm buildings to when I potted my first rabbit.
As you can see, the breeze was blowing from my left as I entered the woods. However, even though I was working my way towards the edge of the woods, I still stalked slowly through the undergrowth; it’s no good wandering through the woods, sending birds flying and branches breaking because when you do get to your fields, that’s all you’ll find there – just the fields. You need to take every step as if it was the final one of your approach – silently, slowly and carefully.
As I got near the end of the woods, I used my scope to check-out the fields. At the top, there’s a rabbit-run through the hedge and rabbits quite often come into this field for a feast. Spotting a couple I checked for wind direction and realised that the only way I could approach, unseen into the wind, was by working my way down through the woods and then along the wrong side of the bank.
The woods posed no problem to me but when I had to come out of the woods, I had to do it on all fours. Wanting to keep as low a profile as possible, I had to keep my body below the level of the bank. Unfortunately, this meant getting lower as I moved away from the bank towards the short bushes.
This is what stalking is all about, there’s been many a time I’ve spent ages stalking a rabbit and maybe missed the shot or something else has spooked the rabbit before I could draw a bead on him. But, it’s the taking part that counts. There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you finally arrive some 30 metres from a wild animal and it’s been all your effort that’s rewarded you.

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