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Fiery Deer Gen3 Tripod Review rabbit stakeout with the CZ452 Varmint HMR

June 15, 2021 at 12:55 pm

A cold wet spring, followed by high temperatures, has seen a spurt in undergrowth this year, no less on a rabbit warren, that I have been trying to clear for the land owners. Evening visits had become less productive as the grass grew and I opted to buy a Fiery Deer Tripod to allow me to spot and shoot rabbits over the top of the vegetation from a kneeling position.

A week later and it was even worse, but standing instead of kneeling still allowed clear shots.

Next to this field is one currently grazed by horses, which have cropped the grass and this week I decided to concentrate on the rabbits in that field until this one is cut. I was not the only one looking out for rabbits, a fox was sitting out waiting for movement, allowing me to walk up to take a photo, only running off when I pushed my luck too far. Yes, I could have shot it, but he is doing my job for me, catching rabbits.

Further along there is a dead tree, which I used to use as a base in pre covid days and I set up my tripod there and waited.

I moved the tripod forward so that I could sit on the tree, adjusting the height in seconds due to the trigger mechanism. The CZ452 Varmint hanging safely on the rubberised V mount by it’s Harris bipod. What a contrast between the two fields.

The Fiery Deer Tripod has obviously been designed with the deer stalker in mind, but it is perfect for smaller game, such as rabbits and rats. When not in use the light weight allows it to be used as a walking aid over rough ground. On this warren the nettles and grass now cover the many burrows, but the tripod can be used to test the ground ahead.

The legs are held in a clip at the base of tripod, one permanently fixed to a leg, while the other two are free to be released and swung out to steady the tripod on its rubber feet. There is a more expensive, near identical tripod on the market, without the clipped legs, the other having a lanyard and plastic feet, instead of rubber, which in my book make the Fiery Deer a better buy. A friend, who has the more expensive tripod, has to look down to free the lanyard, while the plastic feet slide on concrete, when shooting rats in a barn.

The comfortable rubber hand grip has a trigger, which can be unlocked by releasing a catch on the side, which then allows the legs to release and the V rest to be adjusted to the desired height.

The trigger and dual catch, which is both sides of the trigger, are shown here, flip up to release and down to lock. The V rest rotates through 360 degrees for panning shots. I was amazed at how rapidly the tripod can be deployed, giving an immediate solid base to shoot from.

Unscrew the V rest and choice of two camera mounts are available, a 3/8 inch by 16 TPI thread, sitting over one of 1/4 inch by 20 TPI. Clever.

Well engineered, the tripod head pulls out of the legs from one metre, ideal as a hunting/walking staff, to 1.8 metres, just right for taking a shot while standing, the leg spread is also variable and adjustable to suit any ground, or slope, just mount the rifle, release the ambidextrous catch and trigger with your free hand, position the rifle at the chosen height, release the trigger to hold the position and lock with the finger catch. This takes a lot longer to explain, than do.

It wasn’t long before a pair of rabbits broke from the cover of the long grass opposite, chasing around, before disappearing back to where they came from 80 yards away. Another ten minutes later they were out again, stopping to feed. The HMR was already on the V mount and the rabbits in the cross hairs. A quick working of the rifle bolt and they were ready to collect.

Last of the Mayfly bonus

June 10, 2021 at 1:34 pm

An evening visit to the tiny Hampshire chalk stream, the River Whitewater, gave  me a last chance to fish the Mayfly this week, hot sunny days and warm evenings extending the hatch. Arriving before 7 pm, the sun was still streaming across the corn field as I made my way upstream and the Mayfly were already dancing on the breeze.

A Mayfly on my arm

Without waders and only wellies, my fishing would be limited to fishing from the bank, but I already knew where I would start first, far upstream toward the weir, where I had lost fish the week before. So I thought anyway, the sound of a big fish crashing into a Mayfly stopping me in my tracks.

Looking back downstream I could see possibly two fish rising with abandon, attacking the latest hatch. Minutes earlier when I had passed the area, there was no sign of fish, or Mayfly on the water, but that is the potluck of fly fishing in early June. By the time that I had travelled back, all was quiet again and I positioned myself as close to the river as I could. Behind was a tree, while upstream were reeds and a clump of cow parsley, with willows along the opposite bank.

Suddenly a fish rose beyond the clump of cow parsley, then another. There were definitely two good fish there, but the cast was impossible. After  extending my landing net to about 8 ft, I went for it, making horizontal false casts past the bush, but the Grey Wulff landed nowhere near the spot. The flow was too fast to avoid the fly dragging and I was lifting and casting. The trout were in a frenzy and so was I. Suddenly the line went tight as I lifted off and chaos ensued as the trout imitated an out board motor, hidden from view. I assumed that I was going to lose this fish in the following seconds, but stayed with it, relieved when it surged upstream, across the shallows. The monster had transformed into a pound plus stockie and I had gathered my senses to take control. It now burrowed in the reeds on my side, heading downstream toward a deep root lined hole, letting the 5 lb tippet and my rod take the strain, it turned back and rolled on the surface. I sat down and stuck out the heavy ali landing net into the flow and the trout obliged by swimming in. Phew! I was shattered and on the verge of slipping in on the sloping bank. I managed a couple of quick photos, removed the mangled barbless fly and slid the net back to the river for the trout to recover, then swim off.

Not the best image, but better than the one with my finger over the lens.

Waiting for a knee replacement, regaining my feet was a struggle, but helped by my sturdy landing net I managed it and continued upstream, rises were few and far between, most coming from beneath bushes, no doubt from previously hooked fish. My Grey Wulff was now changed for a smaller white Mayfly, more of a match for those around me and having reached the deep run, that had been full of fish last week, I began working my fly upstream, but with no rises, or takers.

I moved up to the next section, where a fish rose close to the bank behind a bush and I slid down the bank to stand on the marshy bottom. With overhanging trees and standing cow parsley, this was another difficult cast, but as I edged closer, the fish rose again. I managed to get the fly behind the bush and it came up and I missed the take. The line now became entangled in the cow parsley on my side and as I sorted it out the fish rose again. I tried and missed again. I’m obviously losing my touch. I hadn’t put it down, as it rose again. A few more casts and the fly fell right. It came up and third time lucky, it was on. Not a big fish, I drew the wild brown trout back as it tumbled on the surface, then it was off the hook. As I said earlier, I’m losing my touch.

Getting back up to the top of the bank taught me a lesson, don’t try that again until post operation. I continued upstream, to the weir, but despite plenty of Mayfly about, there were no more rising fish and I turned back. The sun was now behind the trees and a few fish were rising toward the road, but apart from the occasional pause to consider taking them on, I made my way back contenting myself with the fact that I had landed a lucky stockie and for once had not lost any flies.

 

 

 

 

Roach and rudd galore on the bread punch at Braybrooke

June 8, 2021 at 2:06 pm

A last minute change of plan left me with a few hours free to fish this week, opting for nearby Jeanes Pond at Braybrooke Rec now that the weather has warmed up. Reports of a few tench being caught decided my approach for the session, taking my stiff pole with strong elastic, not so much for the tench, which run to about 4 lb, but to cope with any pike that may take a roach.

As usual the convenience of the bread punch can’t be beaten. There is no need to drive off to the tackle shop for bait, when all you need is sitting ready to thaw in the freezer. Ten seconds for bread slices and 40 for a bag of liquidised bread in the microwave is enough for bait ready to fish with. If I had known the night before that I was fishing, the bag could have been left in the fridge over night to slowly thaw.

To match my pole set up, I used a 3 gram bodied antenna float, bulk shotted to within a foot of the hook and a No 6 tell tale shot 6 inches from it, the rig set for the bait to fish just on the bottom. For ground bait I used 4 ounces of liquidised bread as a base, with about a table spoon each of Haiths Red Spice mix, ground carp pellets and 2 mm Krill pellets. Wetted down, this mix was formed into half a dozen tight balls and spread along the drop off four metres out. The tench here tend to search along the shelf of the drop off and it wasn’t long before bubbles began to rise from the bottom. The idea of the tight balls is to try to avoid the small rudd and roach with the feed sinking straight down, likewise the bulked down float, although lift bites and runaways proved that this was not working too well, although there were some better roach among the tiddlers.

Bubbles were steadily rising and every time that the bait managed to reach the bottom, there was a lift and a slow sink away and another decent roach.

The occasional rudd managed to intercept the bait, holding the body of the float high in the water, then drifting off before I struck. I bounced many of these off due to the lack of give in my pole and elastic.

Another lift, bob, sail away, which I thought was a rudd, turned out to be a tench, carp, or pike. I never saw the fish, just the elastic stretching out, before the hook lost grip. Leaving these bites longer all resulted in a small gorged rudd. Very frustrating. The roach kept coming. They were loving my ground bait, if there were tench down on the bottom, the roach were beating them to the 6 mm pellets of bread punch.

I lost another mystery fish, while I was bouncing off one in three roach. I had already slackened off the elastic, but it was not enough and I assume that the elastic was putting too much pressure on the hook, when the better fish swam off. One of the others fishing nearby, had just caught two tench on the trot and I mixed up some more feed and put it in. Taking a cup of tea and my sandwiches, I walked round for a chat to Kevin to see what he was doing right. A running line waggler rig and maggots on the shelf was his answer, the tench being about 3 lb and a baby of 8 0z. After swapping life stories, I wandered back to my swim and continued catching roach.

Kevin’s brother Trev now came round for a chat and asked about the bread punch and the roach obliged, then I struck into and lost a smaller tench as it fought deep. This pole elastic will need slackening off before I fish again. I had watched another angler opposite fishing a feeder to the edge of a bed of lilies and seen him catch three tench. This was not working. I persevered for another hour, no more mystery fish and plenty of lost roach was enough for one session and I packed up.

The tench rig, that last year had put three tench, a 2 lb crucian and some small common carp in my net, but not today. Lifting my net from the water, I was still surprise by the amount of fish, considering that I had bounced so many off.

 

 

 

Wild trout respond to the Mayfly on the urban river

June 4, 2021 at 7:46 pm

My first evening visit to an urban trout stream paid off this week with a hectic hour of action, until heavy rain forced me to take shelter, before finally giving up. I had left home in bright sunshine, but the sky was black on the horizon. I had not heeded the forecast of isolated showers, keen to get to the river while Mayfly were still flying, trouble was that it isolated over me!

Walking over the bridge at 7 pm, I could see Mayfly in the air and trout rising upstream. My rod was already set up with a small White Mayfly and made my way past the bus stop to begin fishing from the green. I had just needle knotted on a new 11 ft weight forward leader and was keen to see how it performed. Casting up to a rise, I was impressed to watch the leader punch out, then gracefully float down to the surface. Second cast a fish rose and a small trout was on, but then buried in the weed. Easing the pressure, but keeping up the tension, saw the trout swim out of the other side and the battle commence, until beaten it drifted into my landing net.

Due to the barbless hook, this 8 inch wild brown was quickly returned unharmed to swim off strongly against the flow, although the artificial Mayfly had not survived the head shaking fight and required replacing. Fortunately I had a duplicate and was soon ready to fish again, but the hatch was over, with just the occasional fly floating down.

Suddenly the river was alive with rises again, as another flurry of Mayfly began lifting off, skidding across the surface. Smaller fish were launching themselves out of the water as they chased their prey. On the far side, a larger trout was smacking at the flies, sometimes clearing the surface, its golden flanks flashing as it turned. Protected by an overhanging bush, it remained close to the edge ignoring my imitation each time it drifted by.

Measuring out another couple of feet of line, I managed to bounce the fly off the bank and watched with anticipation as it drifted under the bush. Plop! The fly was gone and the line tightening as I lifted the rod. It boiled on the surface and I stripped line to pull it from the roots. My 7 ft rod took the strain as I rewound the spare line onto the reel, only for a sudden run to strip line off it again, back to the far bank. I could see that this was a good fish for this small river and had my landing net ready, when it dived toward a bank of weed close to my side, but thankfully side strain pulled it round and after a run downstream it was on its side and in the net.

I am afraid that too much adrenaline had caused camera shake and this was the best one that I took, but it is still a pretty fish, these wild trout fat with their Mayfly bonanza.

By the time that I had tied on a small yellow Mayfly, it was spitting with rain, but the trout were still rising and after a couple of missed fish, I moved down to where I heard a better trout rising just upstream of an overhanging horse chestnut tree. It was only rising occasionally and waited for it to come up between the far side and a long raft of weed. Making rapid casts to avoid line drag and the tree, the yellow fly was like a beacon, drifting a yard then being extracted at the last second. The fly was becoming waterlogged by the rain and I blobbed drying powder over it, making false casts, before watching the fly float down, travel a foot and disappear. Wham! I was in again as it ran straight down under the tree, forcing me to keep the rod flat as it fought unseen, the rod bucking and bending. This was not as big as the last and was soon playing it on the reel, bringing it out from cover on the surface to the net.

The light had gone, but the rain was now beating down and after releasing my last captive, I headed for cover and the comfort of my car, then home.

My evening had been saved by a speedy delivery from Barbless Flies, www.barbless-flies.co.uk, a friendly Yorkshire company with the personal touch, that supplied my new leader and fly floatant powder.

Mayfly slow to hatch on the River Whitewater

May 27, 2021 at 2:29 pm

Cold winds and torrential rain have kept the brakes on the annual Mayfly Hatch on the River Whitewater this year, but with the promise of warmer weather to come, prospects could change for the better by the weekend. Getting down to the river on the first decent afternoon for weeks, I stood on the road bridge looking upstream hoping to see a few Mayflies hatching, or fish rising, but was disappointed. The river was still slightly coloured and it looked like more rain was on the way.

This was only my second visit since a cold windy open day in April and had tied on a small yellow Mayfly pattern in my optimism. At this time last year, the Hatch was in full flow and I set off upstream in search of rises. A few hundred yards on, the unmistakeable splashy rise of a decent trout, then another further up got my heart racing and I managed to get down into the shallows to wade the last few yards. On the waiting list for a new knee, this was an effort, having to make do with wellies instead of waders.

There was a strong downstream wind adding to the line drag and I needed an accurate cast to reach the first fish under the left hand bank. My back cast caught in the alders above my head and I lost the fly. By the time that I had tied on a replacement fly, the short hatch of a dozen flies was over and my imitation was ignored.

Continuing upstream small yellow mayfly were fluttering across the river and another trout was feeding close to a sunken branch. From the high bank I could see a wild brown of about 12 oz and measured my casts, the first few ignored, while the trout continued to feed as a steady supply drifted down. On my next cast, the trout moved toward the fly, then turned to the right to slurp in one closer, before darting to the left to scoop up mine. It was on! Initially diving beneath the branch, I pulled it out, only for it to start tumbling on the surface, coming close to my bank and the shallows. I had no control and reached forward with my already extended landing net, while the the trout continued to thrash on the surface. It came off and darted back to safety. Not a big fish, but it would have broken my duck.

This part of the river was always a good nursery for juvenile trout, while holding a few rod benders, that only come out from their deep pools, when the Mayfly are on the water. There were still a few crayfish nets secreted along the banks and it is hoped that the reduced number of crays will result in more surviving wild fish.

I continued upstream to the weir, but with no sign of rising fish, I tried my luck with my Blackdevil nymph, casting to likely holding areas and runs.

Casting up between the post of a berm, the line arced round into the eddy as it passed, but I lifted into thin air, the weighted nymph flying back. Too late, or too early? A missed fish all the same.

I saw one more crashing rise on the way back, plenty of fly life of all sizes, but few mayfly. Crossing the road, I entered the next beat, seeing another member Steve wading up to his waist, casting up under the bridge, where fish were rising. He reported netting a 2 lb fish above the bridge at the weekend, which was encouraging news. I continued down to the next pool, seeing several rises among a hatch of small white Mayfly. Removing the nymph, I tied on a bodied Mayfly and cast among the rising fish, only for the fly to be attacked by a small fish, which I missed. A few more tries and a small chub of six inches took a flying lesson before falling off. Move on.

More Mayfly were now in the air and I watched a big trout sucking them in from an eddy among the safety of roots and a fallen tree. If I could get the fly in there, it was unlikely that I would be able to get it out. The sound of another fish rising further down saw me enter the river again, almost falling in, when I used a dead tree for support, it crumbling in my hands as I gripped it. Fortunately I avoided a soaking, my heavy aluminium extendable landing net coming to my aid as I stumbled.

I have had many fine trout from this pool in the past and as I waded through the shallows, a good fish rose among the roots on the left at the top end. Keeping close to the edge, I cast to the area. The fly sat for only seconds before it was engulfed and I was playing a hard fighting trout, that was charging toward the roots. I have been lulled by catching chub lately, this was no chub, the power of a trout is up several levels. It turned and rushed back, rolling in the shallows, before another long run. With a dark back and silvery sides, I was reminded of a seatrout as it rolled again. Tightening down the line, it fought in diminishing circles, until it turned on its side and drifted back to my net.

A sleek wild brown trout of about a pound and a half, that rewarded persistence, a beautiful fish that my camera could not do justice to. The barbless size 12 fell out once the pressure was off and I held the trout facing upstream, until it swam back out of the landing net. Another member Richard had stopped, while I waited for the trout to recover and he extended a welcome hand to pull me up the bank to save my aching knee. My cancelled operation would have been a few days before, so good came of it in the end, as I would not have been able to catch this fine fish, if it had gone ahead.

CZ452 Varmint .17 HMR back at the rabbit warren

May 13, 2021 at 6:51 pm

Making my third visit to a local farm in a week, my tally was at seven rabbits and the population of a massive warren were already showing signs of getting skittish, diving for cover as I approached, some running down to a ditch lined with willow at the end of the field. I decided to bide my time waiting from a vantage point in the cover of the warren to see if anything would venture out.

The evening sun was low over the field and the wind was from right to left, not ideal for the HMR with its lightweight 17 grain bullet, but there were no targets yet. A slight movement got my attention, the scope picking out a pair of ears behind undergrowth, stopping, disappearing, then reappearing further along. I could have chanced a shot to where the rabbit’s head should be, but wanted a clear shot. It hopped out into long grass raising it’s head and I aimed at the snout, allowing for the wind and squeezed the trigger. Crack! The report from the rifle echoed back as the rabbit stood up clawing the air, then dropped out of sight. I was sure that I had killed it, but settled back, working the bolt to clear the chamber and pushing it forward to load another bullet from the magazine, picking up the ejected brass case and putting it in my pocket.

Another 15 minutes and there was more movement. A pair of rabbits emerged from beneath the willow ahead and began trotting back toward the warren. Aiming for the one on the left, I let it run into the crosshairs and fired, tumbling it. The second rabbit swerved away and I snatched a shot, but missed. Working the bolt, I fired again, the rabbit crouching as the bullet passed close by, then speeding to safety further down the warren.

With no action ahead among the willows, I got up and walked forward to look for the first rabbit, finding that I had shot it through the back of the head side on, the wind having blown the bullet four inches to the left. The second rabbit had no apparent wounds. I carried them back and began taking the loins and back legs, while scouting down to the far end of the warren for movement. I spotted a rabbit close to the end of the warren, but could not see it through the scope due to the nettles and grass, waiting for it to move into a clearer area, but in got lost amongst the greenery.

The CZ Varmint hangs on the tripod V, conveniently ready for a shot.

The odd head popped up gopher style, but they were not visible through the prone scope. I had my new shooting tripod with me and lowered it with the legs out to a comfortable kneeling position and scoped the area. From the extra height I could now see the original rabbit and two others moving about and feeding. I fitted a full five shot magazine and adjusted the scope parallax to 130 yards on 12 magnification. There was still a slight breeze in my face and I aimed at the narrow rear outline of one sitting up, holding the tripod grip for stability, but then another rabbit moved close to it side on and I aimed high on its chest, breathing out and squeezing the trigger. It slumped forward. At that range with the breeze, there would have been no crack from the bullet and the other two continued about their business. I was pleased with the shot and scoped round to the one on the right sitting up. I fired and missed, and it moved forward a yard by which time I had reloaded. Aiming between the ears again it dropped into the long grass around the burrow. I now swung round to the third, but it had made a quick exit down a hole.

After another ten minutes, I picked my way carefully through the maze of burrows down to the target area and found the still warm bunnies, a buck and a pregnant doe.

The light was now going and I still had a trek back to the van, bagging up these two, thankful that I had cleaned and quartered the other pair, reducing the weight to carry. With rain forecast for most of next week, I’ll rest the warren before I hit it again.

Bread punch carp and crucians worth the wait.

May 12, 2021 at 8:32 pm

Following a morning of sunshine and showers, I took a chance of better weather for a few hours on my local pond this week. It’s only a short walk from my home, ideal if time is limited, intending to be on my way back by 6 pm. Travelling light with just the basics, bait was an 8 oz premixed bag of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets, with a slice of Warburtons medium white for the hook.

The surface was alive with small rudd as I wet down my feed, throwing out half a dozen sloppy balls in an area 8 metres out toward the lily bed on my right. With 8 metres of pole and my waggler set to two feet deep and the line to hand from the top two sections, I could cover the line of feed with a 7 mm double punch of bread on a size 16 hook.

The first dozen casts saw the float sail away with small rudd that had formed a barrier close to the surface, rapidly pushing the pole back through the bushes behind to reach the top two, then swinging the rudd to hand. All good exercise on a warm afternoon.

These rudd were all fat with spawn and their fry will provide fodder for the visiting herons and kingfishers to this shallow pond.

For once the float did not zoom away, when a series of bobs of the yellow tip indicated something better. A slow sink was responded to with a sharp upward lift of the pole and the elastic streaked out toward the lilies, until the strain stopped the fish, which churned up black mud, before heading back in the opposite direction. This was my cue to retrieve the pole, passing it back as fast as possible to keep tension on, seeing the red elastic stretching out into the pond. Down to the top two again, I was in control as the unseen fish battled through the mud toward the landing net and lifting it clear.

A very nice crucian carp, my target fish. There were once many common carp of around the two pound mark in this pond, but they are few and far between these days, there being no anti poaching controls in existence on this public water.

For the next half hour I was back to catching rudd again, although they were half the size of those on my previous visit.

The elastic was out again with another powerful fish running off to the lilies. The slow faltering bite belied by the explosion of power once the barbless hook was set.

A smaller crucian followed before the elastic was tested again by another quality fish that fought shy of the landing net, diving under it twice, third time being lucky for me.

Bubbles were now bursting all over the fed area and I varied where I placed the bait, the fish obliging with an eventual sinking of the float.

This barrel shaped crucian was heavy with spawn, but it fought to the last.

An angler on the opposite bank called out “Got another one? You’re catching a fish every three minutes” I wasn’t counting, but they were definitely on the feed now, this tench reaching the lilies before I dragged it back, rolling and diving in one sliding motion all the way to the net.

I stopped for a cup of tea after the tench, its unpredictable fight keeping me busy steering its head out of the roots at my feet and I needed a rest.

There was brief respite, while I waited for the next bite to develope and I was in again as an even fatter crucian ploughed through the bottom mud, creating a washing line of debris. Once again the size 16 barbless hook hung on.

There was no fussy bite from this common carp, the float just vanished and kept going to my right. Reaching the lily bed it turned in toward my bank, rolling under the bushes. Pushing the pole out into the pond, it responded to the pressure and turned back to the centre, the elastic cutting through the surface film at speed. It was now safe, there being no snags apart from the other bed opposite and it was now slowing down, time for me to keep up the pressure, feeding the pole back behind into the bushes. When I detached the top two sections, I thought that I had been too hasty, as this was a cue for the carp to renew the fight, but the 12 – 18 strength elastic did its work and the common was in the net.

I had netted a smaller common and a few big gudgeon, when red finned crucians moved onto the feed. It was now at my cut off time of 6 pm and time to pack up with one more.

As if I didn’t need any encouragement to walk away from a swim that was still producing, the heavens opened without warning, dousing everything in sight, myself rushing round to put the stuff away, then stopping as suddenly as it began. While others sprayed pellets and sweet corn into their swims, good old bread punch did the business for me yet again.

Travelling light has its advantages in that it does not take long to pack up, the last thing to do being to take a pic of the net of fish, a wide mix of species.

As I put away my net, my fellow angler from the opposite side of the pond was already making his way over to my swim. He was welcome to give it a go.

CZ452 Varmint HMR begins post Covid catch up

May 6, 2021 at 10:26 am

Covid restrictions meant only a few visits to most of my shooting permissions last year, and now into May it is time to begin catching up on lost time. One of my first targets of the year has always been to clear a large warren of  rabbits, before the farmer puts out his cattle to graze. My time limit is the end of April, when he runs over the area with a small excavator filling in the burrows, but unfortunately his untimely death has meant all at the farm was on hold for months. His daughter has now taken over and called me in to do what I can to clear the rabbits, which have multiplied unchecked, digging fresh burrows deep enough to snap a cow, or horse’s leg.

Heading north toward the farm, I could see a massive black cloud creeping over the land in my direction, driven by a bitterly cold wind. I was quick to unload my gear, climbing a pair of gates before I could reach the field, the warren sitting in the middle surrounded by stinging nettles.

This is just a snapshot of the area, 50 yards by 300 yards long, with some interlinked burrows having collapsed leaving 3 foot deep craters. As I approached a rabbit emerged from the ground, ran ten yards and stopped when it saw me. It was about 60 yards away, an easy shot with the HMR normally, but a gusting side wind was blowing the rifle off target on the bi-pod sticks and even a body shot missed. I could see heavy rain advancing across the adjacent field in my direction and just made the lee side of an oak in time.

I stood and watched a rainbow glow in the sky, before it faded when the rain eased, using my time to scan the area with the scope. Rabbits don’t like rain, or cold winds and I had both in Spades. There was nothing about until the wind dropped and the low evening sun came out. A head appeared, then ducked down, another bounded like a gazelle from one burrow, then ran a 100 yards to disappear again.

I decided to invest my time on a raised area of burrows, with a clear view down the bottom half of the warren, having caught sight of movement among the nettles. Extending the legs on the HMR’s Harris bipod, I got myself comfortable, pulling up the hood of my jacket over my cap to keep out the still gusting wind plucking at my body. The movement was increasing, with flashes of fur, or twitching ears, but nothing worth a shot. Increasing my scope to 12 magnification, I saw that a rabbit had left the sanctuary of the nettles to feed on the nearby grass. The rifle was already in my shoulder, the cross hairs were on and the rabbit jumped clear of the ground as the .17 ” bullet struck home. One down. With the wind almost directly behind, the shot was spot on.

15 minutes later a pair ran out of cover close to the first about 130 yards away and I easily tracked them through the scope, but they would not stop trotting around. One of them turned back to cover. It was now or never, taking the shot as it turned toward me. Number two crumpled.

The other rabbit turned to join it’s friend, pausing to sniff the air, the impact causing it to jump clear of the ground. I waited for twenty minutes, but there were no more positive shots and I went down to collect my prizes, scattering another unseen pair as I concentrated on my footing, burrows being everywhere.

Walking back, another black cloud was beginning to block out the sun. I had intended staying until dusk, but more rain was in the air and I bagged up the rifle, making my way back to the van, only to see a sitter in my path, but maybe next time.

Th following day the rabbits were quartered to two loin backstraps and a pair of back legs each, ready to join the freezer as bunny burgers.

Chopped red onion, apricots and garlic were placed in a pan and lightly browned, then added to the minced rabbit, chorizo and pork lardons, liberally dusted with mixed herbs and a couple of tablespoons of Worcester Sauce. A couple of  slices of ground seeded brown bread with a beaten egg to bind and I was ready to fold it all together. The last job was to get out the burger press, laying out 14 on trays for overnight freezing.

The best part of rabbit pest control. Tasty food. Click on the Recipes page of this blog for more.

 

 

 

 

Bread punch finds the roach at Jeanes Pond

April 21, 2021 at 1:37 pm

A full week of sunshine, despite frosty mornings, drew me to Braybrooke recreation ground again this week in the hope of a few tench and crucian carp before the annual May fishing shutdown. Arriving at 2 pm a cold east wind was blowing across the pond and I set up with my back to it, while the sun heated up my front. People say that anglers are half baked and in this instance I definitely was.

There was no sign of surface activity, while the pond had a green algae bloom, which was strange for this time of year, but a ball of liquidised bread over the shelf  into five feet of water induced a positive bite immediately. The No.5 elastic came out of the pole tip as the fish flashed through the mirk and I netted a 4 oz roach.

I had set up a 4 x 16 antenna float to fish a 6mm punch of bread on a size 16 hook, only the top two pole sections needed to fish over the drop off and next cast saw the float bury again with another decent roach.

With the float set just off bottom, the roach kept coming, nothing big, but enough to keep me entertained.

Small rudd were now beginning to intercept the bread on the way down, despite bulking the shot close to the hook.

I decided to make up a heavy mix of  feed, liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and fine fish meal, which had produced a net full of crucian carp from another local pond the week before, putting in three balls four metres out, where there is another two feet of water, in the hope of attracting some better fish.

After twenty minutes, bubbles began bursting on the surface above my new feed area and I added depth to the float, plus three sections to the pole, to place my bait on target. The float settled, a ring radiated out from the antenna before the float slowly sank. I lifted and the elastic came out as a better roach fought back, keeping the tension on as I shipped the pole behind, sliding the fish into the landing net.

The next cast, the float bobbed then sank. Missed it. A tench? In again and the float dithered for minutes, before finally sinking away. The float stayed down with the elastic out, as the unseen fish rushed around. Crucian? Tench, or small carp? I was almost disappointed, when a good clonker roach, flashed beneath the surface, taking my time to tire the fish, ready for the net.

Not the desired species, but welcome none the less, the hook coming out in the net, it having been in the tip of the lip, evidence that the water was probably too cold for tench.

I was on a roll, another good roach came to the net, that heavier feed had done the trick. Then it happened. Having hooked another decent roach, the elastic suddenly stretched away as a pike seized the fish, the float thankfully pinging back, when the hook came out. I put in a couple more balls of feed, but the swim was dead, the shoal had gone.

There was nothing to be had near the bottom and I shallowed up again, coming in closer, taking smaller roach and rudd, scaling down to a 5 mm punch, after dropping a few as I swung them in.

The local middle school had now finished for the day and a large rowdy crowd occupied an area close to me, arguing, shouting and generally showing off to the opposite sex. A football was taken from its owner and booted high in the air into the pond, logs were retrieved from the woods and thrown in. Oh, what fun. I decided that it was time to go, when three lads appeared carrying a ten foot branch. I persuaded them to not throw it into the pond. They left it and wandered off, only to sneak back while I packed up, throwing it in before running off. Note to self, come earlier, or later in the day to avoid a repeat performance.

Maybe it was the pike that had ruined my afternoon, not the antics of the local school kids, after all we were all young once. On the plus side, the bread punch continues to give me consistent results.

 

 

Bread punch crucian carp come in from the cold

April 18, 2021 at 1:36 pm

A frosty morning followed by warming afternoon sunshine, persuaded me to try the shallow pond a short walk from my home for a late afternoon session this week. There was still a chill wind from the north east blowing, but settling down in a sheltered corner with the sun in my face, I could believe that spring had finally arrived.

Setting up the pole with my usual 3BB modified canal waggler rig, to a size 16 barbless hook, I added water to a mix of liquidised bread, ground trout pellets and fine fish meal, plopping four soft balls into a square metre, seven metres out. The rig was set to fish off bottom at two feet deep with a 6 mm bread pellet and swung out to drop through the baited area. The float sank immediately and a rudd was first in the net.

I had expected small rudd to start, but this was above the usual size, my next above average too.

The rudd were getting bigger with each cast, maybe this is the new normal?

The net came out for this one, the bites being predictable, a few dips followed by a slow sink away.

Another beauty followed, the keepnet beginning to fill as the landing net came out again.

A less positive bite indicated a change of species, sharp bobs of the float, followed by a slow submerging run confirming a crucian carp, that pulled out the elastic, the fight belying it’s size.

The rudd were worth catching, but crucians are a favourite of mine, the little battlers always giving a good account of themselves. Next chuck and I was in again, breaking the pole down to the top two each time.

Faced with another crucian bite, I struck earlier, not waiting for the sinkaway and paid the price, losing the fat crucian at the net, which dashed back and put the shoal off the feed, allowing monster gudgeon to get in on the act.

I put in two more balls of feed and began to catch rudd again, another clonker coming below.

At last the crucians came back, pinprick bubbles bursting on the surface, heralding their appearance.

This little barrel of fun gave me the right run around, diving in and out of the landing net in quick succession, before I scooped him in third time lucky. A local angler had arrived with his daughter and set up covering a couple of swims across from me. For every small rudd that they caught, I was catching three crucians, Jim coming round to see what I was doing, asking about the advantages of the pole over a rod and line, while showing him the bread punch in action.

Crucians tend to push the bait around, often sucking on the bread until it is gone. Most are hooked just in the top lip and I can’t ever remember one needing a disgorger.

The crucian haul continued to grow, the small area packed with competing fish, encouraged by the occasional ball of feed spreading out on impact with the surface. I was now in the swing with the crucian bites, when the float bobbed violently, then disappeared to be met by an elastic stretching run, as a black tail broke surface.

This tench did not play ball, diving under the landing net among the snags, before I fished him out, a very firm grip needed to remove the barbless hook. Small tench were abundant in this pond a few years ago, but seemed to disappear. If they are back it is good news, as this one is about 8 oz larger than before.

With my packing up time fast approaching, I made this gudgeon my last fish of the day, but the just one more cast rule was invoked and I hooked a juvenile common carp.

A burst of large bubbles over the feed and with no more rules in the book to break, I cast into the middle of them. On the drop, the float slanted sideways and sank out of sight. The strike was met by the characteristic straight line run of a much better common carp, which stretched out the elastic toward the opposite bank lily bed, following the fish with the pole, until it turned back in my direction, requiring rapid feeding of the pole into the bushes behind me to stay in contact, while breaking down to the top two sections to play it to the net.

With carp in the swim it was tempting to stay longer, but my bread squares had run out of holes, this common carp a fitting end to a very busy three hours.

The splashing sound of my keepnet being pulled from the pond brought Jim back for a photo opportunity, once the mixed bag was poured into the landing net for my last shot.

 

Over 8 lb of quality fish in three hours to wave goodbye to Winter.