Career 707 .22 PCP air rifle garden visit

September 11, 2019 at 9:10 am

An evening distress call from my brother in law Neale, saw me drive the mile to his house with my Career 707 .22 air rifle, after he had seen a couple of rabbits munching through his recently planted lettuce plants. He had scared them off, but now they were back again.

Whispering, Neale pointed to the area beyond his green house, where a small lawn stretches back to the wood behind, saying that just before I arrived, he had seen three from the bedroom window overlooking the garden. Operating the under lever trigger mechanism to cock and load the Career, I crept forward using the greenhouse as cover. I still had not seen them, but with the rifle raised, moved forward again around the side. There they were 15 yards away feeding on the lawn, the largest had its back to me and I fired down into the upper chest, watching it jump forward and then roll over.

Before I could take another shot, the others had bolted behind the lower shed into the wood. My Career 707 .22 is powered up to FAC spec at 28 ftlb and firing H&N Barracuda Hunter Extreme 19 grain pellets, is as effective as a rimfire rifle out to 40 yards, while being safe to shoot within the confines of a garden.

Neale took me down to the scene of the crime, a veggie plot boxed in with orange plastic, showing me a hole that had been gnawed through. This had been to keep the local cats out, but these rabbits had no respect for cats, or human fences. After his spring planting, rabbits had got under the side fence and demolished his crop. We saw a pair of rabbits and I shot them, then reinforced the fence, problem solved.

He had only just planted out his winter lettuce plants at the weekend, only to see them gone the next day. “How did they know they were there?” I suggested that they had probably been coming in every day to eat the apples, or the lawn, but the lettuces were too good to miss. Droppings everywhere backed this up.

Refugees from a new housing complex along the street, that had replaced a small holding, the rabbits had now made their home in the wood at the bottom of the garden, and had scraped out a channel under the fence. Blocking this off will only be a temporary measure, I think the rabbits are there to stay and will soon forget the loss of their kin. The answer is a fine wire fence around the veggie plot, or more visits with the Career 707.

 

CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR rifle at the old rectory

September 7, 2019 at 2:51 pm

A few miles from home is one of my earliest permissions, an old rectory owned by a Knight of the Realm, who originally was plagued by rabbits laying waste to his sprawling flower garden. A concentrated effort by myself had reduced the rabbit population ten fold, but with the garden backing onto the adjoining parkland, new recruits were never far away. A two inch wire mesh fence, dug in a foot below the surface across the hundred yard gap did the trick, although it didn’t keep the deer out, but that’s another story.

The park is wide open with just a few trees and hedges and was full of rabbits, until I bought the CZ 452 HMR. Again a wire fence was the answer, bordering a half mile stretch of farmland, but time and rust have rendered it ineffective and a phone call confirmed that the rabbit numbers had increased since my last visit a year ago. By the sound of it, my next visit was long overdue, but with only time for a reconnoitre this week, I took along my CZ 452 HMR, just in case of a shot.

Climbing the gate, the field ahead had once provided a dozen targets, before moving out into the main area, but today it was clear and I worked along the right hand side looking for signs of scrapes and droppings, but there was nothing new. Movement a hundred yards ahead made me stop. A large rabbit, the size of a small dog was loping across the open ground. Following it with the scope, I realised that it was a hare, the black tips of its wide ears clearly visible. A hare in this area is a rare sight, more suited to wide open farmland. I don’t shoot hares and wished it on its way.

Turning right down a slope, a few rabbits were out close to a bramble hedge two hundred yards away, but with no cover, they had slowly melted away back into the briars, as I closed the distance down. I have been harvesting these rabbits for years and they have a built in fear of camo clad humans carrying rifles.

All along this edge were droppings and runs, the area around a small pond showing fresh scrapes into burrows. Circuiting the perimeter, evidence of recent rabbit activity was everywhere and I felt guilty that I had been complacent, lean pickings over the years convincing me, that the numbers would not return. A mild winter and wet spring had obviously been good for reproduction, undisturbed by pest controllers.

In an attempt to make amends, I took cover behind a tree overlooking the brambles and waited, the tree giving a view over a hundred yards in either direction, well within range of the HMR firing the 17 grain x .17 inch diameter plastic tipped expanding copper bullet.

Scanning left, then right, there was nothing out, then as if a silent buzzer had sounded, there was one near the pond and two in front of the brambles. Bringing the rifle round on its bipod to bear on the closer single rabbit, at x 12 magnification it was a safe target, the crack from the supersonic bullet, breaking the evening silence. The “boof” of a body shot echoing back, a slight side wind drifting the bullet away from the head.

Swinging round to the right, there were now three at the brambles, the biggest giving a side on view and aiming dead on for the snout, due to the wind, watched the rabbit jump up running on all fours to collapse back down motionless. In a well practiced routine, I chambered another round and found the next target sitting up. Ready to fire, it turned and trotted back to the brambles, I switched my attention to the other rabbit too late, as it also had gone from view.

After an unproductive wait, I got up and walked toward the pond for my first rabbit, only for another to appear in front of me, spin round and disappear again. The body shot rabbit was not a pretty sight, not suitable for meat and I threw it into the long grass. Leaving the muzzle at over 2,500 feet per second, the tiny bullet has an explosive effect on the soft tissue of a rabbit, requiring head shots only, if shooting for the pot.

Walking back to collect the second rabbit, the light was already going and I had to circle round before I found it.

Being close to home, a couple of hours a week, should make a difference on this permission.

 

Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto rimfire back on the farm

September 6, 2019 at 5:49 pm

With word that the hay had been gathered and bailed at one of my farm permissions, I paid a late afternoon visit, it being months, since the spring grass had rapidly grown and was keen to get down for a look. Being invited in for a cup of tea to discuss a rat problem around the chicken sheds, I had to get a move on, after promising to sort out the rats another day. This farmer shuts his gates for security reasons at 6 pm and I was now left with only an hour to find something for the pot. I took my Magtech 7002 semi auto .22, as it is very light weight, ideal for a brisk walkabout, although it is limited to about 60 yards for an accurate shot.

I saw that a big oak had fallen across one of the more populated warrens, its branches covering the ground and blocking out any chance of a shot, so I moved on to the next field, which backs onto the warren, searching along the hedge line for signs of rabbits. Plenty of sign, but no rabbits.

Further along toward the corner, I spotted a rabbit close to the edge, seconds before it bounded back into the long grass. Circling wide, I settled down with the Magtech rested on my gun bag and waited for something to happen, about 40 yards out from the edge. Behind the right hand corner is a dry ditch, that is pock marked with burrows and lying prone I did not have long to wait for a pair of rabbits to trot out from the undergrowth to feed on the fresh grass. My bullet of choice is the Winchester 42 grain hollow point subsonic, faster than most others, carrying more punch and better knock down power, while being reliably accurate in the Magtech 7002.

The rabbits were both masked by the grass, but one eased into my sights and I took a steady shot, that flipped the rabbit over. The other continued feeding, but was facing away from me and I waited for it to turn for a side on shot. It never happened, another rabbit appearing that ran though the scope window, which my rabbit, frustratingly for me, ran after, chasing back to the corner. I could have sprayed bullets after them, but would have been lucky to have hit a vital area.

After 20 minutes with no more shows, I paunched this rabbit and bagged it up, then began the walk back, spotting another close to the fence near the downed oak about 80 yards away. Although I was in the middle of the field, the rabbit seemed unworried as I closed the gap, sitting up then going back to feed, when I got down to crawl another 10 yards. It was now aware of me and I rested the rifle on my bag for a shot as it moved a yard into longer grass. Now, or never, I aimed above its chest and missed. Too much hold over, or not enough? The Magtech is zeroed for 30 yards and at 50 yards plus had to allow for bullet drop. Next time I’ll take the HMR.

The farmer was waiting by the gate to lock up when I got back, raising his eyebrows with a silent question. “Only one, but I’ll be back.”