Magtech 7002 and CZ452 HMR Stakeout

July 17, 2018 at 7:53 pm

The heatwave continues and with no significant rain for almost two months fields are parched. I have not bothered going out shooting, as with pastures filled with waist high grass, rabbits have been invisible.

While on holiday in Cornwall last week, I had a call from the owner of a cottage that backs onto the land pictured above. He sounded desperate. Rabbits were tearing up his lawn. Could I come over and shoot them? I have shot this garden and the field beyond for years, the cottage owner Mrs Potter, now in her eighties, had reluctantly sold, and moved to a modern serviced flat. The new owner, a local businessman, had embarked on a major modernisation project at the 150 year old property. With the cottage nearing completion, he had started tidying the outbuildings and half acre garden, when I had introduced myself regarding controlling the rabbits. This was a few months ago and he had said that he had never seen a rabbit in the garden, at which I said, “Well there’s one” pointing to a big adult munching fresh grown shoots. I had added my number to his phone, then gone on my way.

The house is still unoccupied and I arrived at my first opportunity this week on a hot evening after 7 pm. Anticipating dozens of rabbits, as described by the owner, I took my Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto and a couple of ten shot magazines for a stalk around the garden, the parched main lawn being surprisingly devoid of rabbits, when I would have expected at least a couple on past experience. With flower beds and hedges, there is plenty of cover in the garden and the Magtech was cocked and ready to fire as I worked my way toward the rear, getting down to peer around every feature. Nothing.

I sat down with my back to a tree, where I had a good view of the rear garden and waited. Ten minutes later three rabbits made their way in single file through a gap in the gate from the overgrown field and spread out hastily grazing fresh green grass. In slow motion I raised the rifle and sighted on a broadside buck 30 yards away, ready to swing to the next target 10 yards on. Boof! The bullet found the upper chest and it collapsed, as my other target darted to one side and stopped. I fired, the rabbit back flipped and ran off. I had hit it, but not stopped it. They had retreated back through the gate and did not return.

I patrolled the garden several times with no other signs of rabbits, although evidence of their presence was everywhere, sheets of mesh covering bare patches of lawn chewed down to the subsoil. Returning the Magtech to the van, I brought out the CZ452 HMR and set up further down the garden with a view to the back fence 60 yards away and within sight of a third of the remaining lawn and flower beds to my left.

The reason that the rabbits had been attracted to the back of the garden was obvious, when I looked around, a sprinkler had been placed there and the fresh growth was in a slight dip, where the water had accumulated. With the sun going down, it was time to wait it out, the rifle aimed directly at the field gate.

Although I had my NiteSite attachment with me, I felt that I had waited around long enough, when a movement in the gloom at the gate, presented a pair of ears bobbing forward, followed by more. At least three rabbits were now passing back and forth sampling the grass. I had my night face mask on and was unseen as I switched positions trying to get a bead on one of them. A head raised and the rabbit fell. Shifting the bolt in a second, the cross hairs fell on another heading back to the gate, the rabbit dropping from view. Another pair zig-zagged in panic back to the field.

The other rabbit was five yards away, two does in under a minute. That’s how it goes sometimes.

The owner had requested a rabbit and I had strung up the buck in the wood shed and barricaded the door safe from foxes, before resuming my patrols. A text to the owner last night was replied to this morning, saying that the rabbit was now prepared for a meal tonight. Bon appetit.

 

 

CZ 452 HMR evening visit

June 7, 2018 at 4:47 pm

A warm still evening saw me back at the new permission this week, trying to keep in with the landowner, who expects the impossible, his land cleared of rabbits, while the grass is at knee height. The light was already fading when I arrived, but with my Nitesite as back up, was hopeful for a few more for the freezer.

He has mowed an area around the site, which helps spot rabbits, but those in the grass have learned to keep there heads down and sprint across the open spaces, stopping only to pass through the fence.

My best chance here is to enter the field keeping low, until I see the rabbits on an open space and get down for a shot, before they see me. Following round the cleared path, I saw a pair of rabbits dead ahead about 80 yards away and sank down prone. At ground level they were obscured by the long grass at one edge and moved over for a clear view. A white tail indicated that the pair had seen me already, moving toward the fence, the rear one paused and was dead in an instant, the other passing through to safety.

As I made my way over to pick up the rabbit, others were sneaking out of the long grass to the fence. A shot to hand at this range would have been lucky to find the mark and decided to clean the this one, while keeping a lookout along the cleared fence line. I settled down at the edge of the grass with a clear view up a rise for about 120 yards, no problem for the HMR on a still evening. A rabbit stuck its head out about 10 yards away, but soon turned tail and I waited, a barn owl quartering the field to my right taking my gaze for several minutes. Looking back, two rabbits were trotting in and out of the long grass near the top of the rise by a gate. Sometimes these games go on for a while, only to end with them back in their burrow. One stopped in the open and began grazing, while the other was out of sight. I don’t need a second chance, the scope was already zoned and the rifle cracked, the echo bouncing off nearby houses, as the rabbit reflex jumped. The second rabbit was startled and rushed into, then out of view again to appear sitting up at the top of the rise. Chambering another round, the cross hairs were on for head shot and it flipped over. I waited another ten minutes just in case any more appeared and made my way up the field to pick them up.

Cleaning duties done, I patrolled the top half of the field, again watching as another trio bolted for the fence from cover. In the corner a big, full red fox was sitting, it slowly rising to it’s feet. I had a clear shot to it’s pure white bib, but in this field he is on my side. I had wondered why I had not seen any young rabbit kits, here was the reason. The discarded rabbit remains of this evening would be cleared by morning.

I was satisfied with three adult rabbits from this evening and headed back down the path, cresting the rise to see a dark blob where I had shot the first. The bipod was flicked back open and I sighted on the unaware rabbit at least 120 yards away, aiming high on the shoulder, easing the trigger to send the tiny .17 inch bullet on its way. The silencer barked, followed by a moment’s delay before the rabbit rolled over.

This last one was a bonus, possibly the first of the pair that I had seen at the start. It was now getting dark, the Nitesite had not been needed and I made my way back to the gate on the lane. As I fiddled with the combination locks, the landowner came out of his house to ask how I had done, promising to cut the grass before my next visit.

 

Magtech .22 semi auto longshot with Winchester 42 grain subs between the showers

May 29, 2018 at 11:26 pm

Several months have passed since my last visit to the equestrian centre, where my efforts and that of myxomatosis, had resulted in a couple of visits devoid of rabbits. This 80 acre permission had been overrun with rabbits ten years ago, when I had shot over 200 with my Magtech .22 semi auto in the first year, the mixture of woodland and hedgerows, with mown rides for for the horses to be exercised, giving a wide variety of bunny habitats. I got the permission, when a young female rider’s horse stumbled in a rabbit hole on one of the rides, throwing her off, resulting in a broken back.

It had been a day of sunshine and showers, driving through a heavy downpour on my way that saw me ready to turn back, but blue skies ahead spurred me on, finding the ground already drying as I walked from the stables. The owners had seen more rabbits about again and called for me to come over, dropping in on my way to another shooting commitment. Being light weight, the Magtech is ideal for this sort of shooting, which usually entails a fair bit of walking, while the silenced subsonic bullets do not cause panic among the pastured horses.

It was interesting to see new developments under way, including a new house for the owners and following a recently laid path between paddocks, saw a movement beneath the shadow of a tree. Putting the scope to my eye, a rabbit was sitting looking at me about 40 yards away and I sidestepped behind a tree to my right, bringing the rifle round from cover. Steadied against the tree trunk, I took the shot before it moved off, the .22 Winchest 42 grain subsonic hitting the chest with a thump, that rolled the rabbit over.

With possibly a mile or so to cover, I skinned and paunched this rabbit where it fell, bagging it up, then continuing to explore. The owner’s wife had said of a new group of rabbits along the southern boundary, her husband had cut back bramble bushes encroaching onto the ride there and seen fresh burrows. The sky was beginning to darken and I was keen to add to my tally before another shower

Keeping in close to the edge of the far ride, I could see several rabbits as suggested in an area cleared of brambles, about a hundred yards away, an easy shot for the HMR, but with the heavier and slower Winchester subs, I needed to close that down to at least seventy yards. There was nothing for it, but to get down and elbow crawl the last thirty yards, with the last ten of these being fully exposed. Getting closer, a big buck sat up. I had been spotted. I stopped and sank my face into the ground, only cammo cap and jacket visible in the long grass at the edge. Looking up again, a couple were moving back toward the undergrowth. It was now, or never. Resting the Magtech on my gun bag, I aimed high on the buck’s head and fired, watching it do a backflip, then lie there kicking. A second later I sent a follow up bullet to the head. It lay still. The others were gone. Often a rabbit will kick and run on the spot, though dead, but get traction and disappear into the undergrowth and be lost. Having practiced the double tap shot in the past, I use it most times with the Magtech semi auto.

Pacing out the distance to this rabbit, I counted out seventy eight paces, about eighty yards, a long shot indeed for a .22. Heavier and faster than a standard subsonic, the Winchesters seem very effective compared to the RWS subs I had been using before. At this range I had allowed three inches drop from my 50 yard zero. While cleaning this rabbit, a nearby clap of thunder heralded rain to come and I was soon heading toward a small copse for cover. Rounding a bend, a pair of rabbits were feeding about 60 yards along the ride. I stepped back and got down prone, pushing my gun bag out into the open to rest the rifle, taking a clean head shot to the rabbit sideways on to me. It sank forward. The other rabbit was unaware of the fate of its companion, continuing to munch the long grass at the edge, a head on shot into the head and shoulders sealing the deal. 

It was now quite dark for a May afternoon and spots of rain were falling as I gathered up the rabbits, failing to reach the cover of an oak tree, before the rain came straight down in biblical proportions. Another clap of thunder had me worried, the oak was the tallest tree in the copse, but also with the best canopy, as the rain tap was turned on even harder. The air was full of the smell of rain bouncing off new leaf growth, a fine mist of droplets coating my jacket, as I busied myself with the rabbits.

The storm passed quickly, but not before the copse was thoroughly soaked, making my way back to the stables through another shower. This fleeting visit had bagged some big healthy rabbits from an ignored permission, that will need to be put back on the list for attention.

Nitesite Viper and CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR test

May 4, 2018 at 9:53 am

Having secured another new permission, I arranged with the landowner for a walk-round in the evening this week. He suggested that I bring my rifle with me and I put my Nitesite Viper add on in the van just in case there was time to shoot later. Parking in the field, after he had let me through the double combination locks on the gate, I locked the HMR in the car before commencing the tour.

The field is flat grassland, being about ten acres and having a bank rising up to about ten feet above the field. He has fenced, one end and along the bank using “rabbit mesh”, which is obviously not doing its intended job, as burrows were evident either side of the fence, while as we walked, rabbits were slipping out of the long grass into safety beyond the fence. The landowner has put a gate in the fence, which gives access to another thirty acres and climbing up into the area we had a clear view over the field. This extra land was brambles and scrubby trees and we stopped in our tracks to observe a pair of fallow deer, a buck and doe, the buck sporting a good set of antlers. Only a hundred yards away, they turned and loped off into the undergrowth, a wonderful sight.

Once sheep had kept this 30 acres manicured, but now it was well on the way to reverting back to a wilderness and apart from using it as a vantage point for the ten acre field, it held no promise for me. The landowner had had a farm in the area, but sold up to buy this land along with the farm house and three cottages, using the flat field as a recreation area for himself and the tenants, children’s swings, climbing frames and a slide already installed behind the houses.

It was already dusk, when he left me to my own devices, having previously demonstrated how quickly the Nitesite could be fitted to the HMR. The perimeter of the field had been recently mown, leaving a six foot border between the bank and the long grass, an ideal killing zone.

Lying in a corner, I had a clear view along the border to a rise about 150 yards away, all I had to do was to wait for the first customer to appear. The screen of the Nitesite emits a low light back at the viewer and I wear a black ski mask with a cut out for the eyes, to reduce any chance of rabbits being spooked by a ghostly looking human face in the dark. All very cloak and dagger, but necessary. In the gloom there was a movement on the border and I switched on the power to see a rabbit clearly visible against a light background about 50 yards away. Pivoting the rifle to get the crosshairs on line with the head, the rabbit moved, trotting in my direction for 10 yards, then stopped again. That was enough. I squeezed the trigger and it toppled over from a head shot.

Although the rechargeable Lithium battery in the Nitesite has a 7 hour life, I prefer to switch on, scan and switch off again. In complete darkness the rabbit eyes show up brightly, the perfect target. In the semi darkness of this field, another rabbit showed up jet black, its head and shoulders clearly visible in the long grass. Again cross hairs on and it was gone. Now to find it. Following a line out from the rifle, I walked for 50 yards, finding it 5 yards off my line, the eye proving my sighting to be spot on.

Having collected this pair, I walked the fence line again, but saw no more. It had begun to rain with a cold wind, not pleasant for man, or rabbit and I set off for home, quite satisfied with the Nitesite, HMR combo.

 

CZ 452 Varmint HMR against the elements

April 19, 2018 at 4:27 pm

A dull cold morning transformed into bright sunshine, driven by a brisk wind and convinced that a balmy afternoon would follow, I headed out to my new permission eager to get some more rabbits for the freezer. Due to the wet weather of late, the farmer has been reluctant to let his cattle out for the spring pasture. Once the cattle are on the land, he does not allow shooting, so every visit is a bonus.

Rather than abating, the wind increased, scudding clouds across the sky as I patrolled the land, checking out previous kill sites. In the west the sky was beginning to darken and I was having doubts about my decision to drive the 15 miles to the farm. Higher temperatures had been promised this week and my vision of a warm afternoon bringing rabbits to the surface to sunbathe was disappearing fast.

A 30 minute stake out, a hundred yards from the usually productive pylon, revealed only a pair of very young kits, dancing in and out of the brambles, but no caring adults. I couldn’t wait all day. The kits will be bigger in the summer.

Walking back into the wind, I could make out two brown blobs 200 yards away, the scope confirming the sighting of a pair of big adult rabbits. In this wind I would need to be within 80 yards to be sure of a head shot, the gusts coming to the left of head-on, could blow the tiny .17 inch diameter bullet well off course. Heading directly for them, I kept low, the pylon behind me masking my outline, until about 100 yards away, where a shallow gully allowed me to cover more ground unseen. Pushing the HMR onto the higher edge, I could seen the two rabbits clearly, one was hunched with its back to the wind looking in my direction, the other partially obscured by grass, side on. The head-on rabbit was clearly visible, but a wind drifted shot to the body would ruin the meat and opted for the one to the right, head down feeding. Again not an easy shot, to the body yes, but I had to guess where the bullet would end up in its head. Aiming for the upper shoulders, I expected a right drift of 3 inches to the brain. I fired and they disappeared from view. A search of the area revealed nothing. I must have missed completely.

Walking the fields, I saw several other rabbits slink off into the now rapidly growing grass, two more weeks would see the end of it until haymaking. Near a hedge, white tails were bobbing away to cover and decided to invest the time to wait for them to come back out. Overhead the clouds had joined up to form a darkening mass and the unceasing wind was beginning to spit with rain. Like humans, rabbits dislike wind and rain, it seeming that the chance of a rabbit was declining with the weather.

Movement in the hedge got my attention, but again it was frolicking kits tormenting me, scurrying around. Constantly scanning around was rewarded by the sight of an adult rabbit sitting up behind me to the right. I swung round and aimed at the upper chest, the tailwind carrying the bullet to its target.

Although it was only 4 pm, the clouds had brought on premature darkness and as I cleaned this rabbit, heavy raindrops had begun to fall. So much for spring. The shower was brief, but enough to send me back to the van and home.

CZ 452 Varmint HMR accuracy reward

April 3, 2018 at 1:36 pm

With the possibility of more snow, but the certainty of rain for the rest of the week, I made the effort to find time to visit my new permission this afternoon. The farmer would like to put his cattle onto the new grass early next month, but too many rabbit burrows on the land are causing him concern for the beast’s well being. At the beginning of this month he had gone over the land with his digger, flattening and filling as many burrows as he could find, but another dozen have reappeared in that time.

Driving toward the farm, four rabbits were clearly on view at the base of one of the electricity pylons, but crossing the field in their direction, the flashing of white tails meant that they would be safely underground, before I was anywhere in range. Circling round to the left, I found a depression in the ground which offered a degree of cover about 80 yards away. Later in the year this will be a patch of stinging nettles, but today they were immature plants, which proved they were still capable of making my palms itch. Adjusting the rifle bibod up another few inches allowed a view of the pylon base with its bramble topping and I settled down to wait for some movement. In full view of cars passing along the lane, but shielded from the pylon, I lay prone until a rabbit emerged from a burrow, its head and shoulders clear, when I squeezed the trigger.

With no time to wait for more rabbits, I paused to note the number and depth of the burrows, some appearing to continue straight down for six feet. Picking this one up, I made my way back across to the centre, where a fallen tree gives a degree of cover, but also a convenient platform for cleaning rabbits. Half way over, a big rabbit was feeding part hidden by the rough ground of the warren, too far for a safe shot to hand, but not visible from ground level. Changing direction I hoped to come up from behind, but it saw me and bolted for the ditch along the edge of the field. As that opportunity faded, another arose in the shape of another bunny emerging 100 yards away. Getting down, there was a clear shot with the extended bipod and sent the little .17 ballistic bullet on its way to claim another for the pot.

The farmer’s attempts at filling the burrows was a wasted effort, these spring rabbits full of energy and able to reconnect with the existing underground tunnels.

Back at the fallen tree, I began preparing the rabbits for bagging, looking around every now and then for new targets, being interrupted by the sight of a deep brown buck leaving the safety of a burrow to feed in long grass. Only its ears were visible and I shut down the bipod to rest on a fence post, aiming into the grass to where the head should be. Squeezing off the shot at 80 yards, the animal cartwheeled forward out of sight and I climbed through the barbed wire to collect it.

Well out of range, back toward the farm, I could see three more rabbits feeding near some willows and walked steadily in their direction. On my last visit I had taken a successful shot at over 160 yards, but they had all filtered back into the undergrowth long before that this time. Taking advantage of the fact that the rabbits had their heads down, I moved in closer to about 120 yards, settling down into a shallow depression in the uneven field and waited.

The sun had come out and I watched a red kite wheeling over the farm, making its shrill call. Spring is on its way. Movement beneath the willows got my attention. A pair of rabbits began chasing around. As I said spring is in the air. One came out on its own. No breeze to worry about. Cross hairs on, squeeze and it toppled over.

Another healthy doe to carry back to the fallen tree for cleaning, then the half mile trek back to the van ladened down with the day’s harvest. Once more the accuracy of the CZ 452 HMR had proved its worth.

CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR scores after the snow

March 21, 2018 at 10:30 am

What strange weather we are having in the south of England at the moment. Two days of snow left a thick carpet four inches deep covering the land, then the wind changed from freezing to just very cold and the roads cleared, but the snow remained on the land. This morning I awoke to see my garden still white, but by 10 am the sun was out and I could see the snow retreating. By lunchtime I was making plans to visit my new permission later in the afternoon.

Filling the van with fuel, and three sets of roadworks delayed my arrival, by which time the sun was hidden by a blanket of grey cloud and the air temperature was dropping fast, driven by an increasing north wind. The good news was, no snow. This area had missed the main onslaught over the weekend and I hoped for some steady rabbit action.

I got the feeling that I had arrived too late. There was nothing in sight. This time of year bucks like to sit out, being warmed by the spring sunshine, but spring was rapidly turning to winter again and they had all gone indoors. Scanning the warren through the scope from across the field, a brown smudge proved to be a rabbit 200 yards away. I needed to get across the open ground without being seen and moved sideways along my hedgerow, until a broad oak in the opposite hedge line was between me and the rabbit. I then headed over the field in cover of the tree, stopping to get down about 80 yards away to check round the trunk that the rabbit was still there. It was, but hidden by grass from the prone shooting position, just the tops of its ears being visible. Back behind the tree, I moved closer up a slight incline. Still only ears on view. Sighting on the expected head below the twitching ears, I clicked my tongue. The ears pricked up and I fired, somersaulting the rabbit. Got it. A big doe.

Scanning through the scope again, I could see a pair of rabbits out feeding close to an electricity pylon and worked my way along a hedge, until I was in range. Getting down prone about a 100 yards away, I realised that there was no safe backstop, the lane and a house clearly visible 50 yards beyond. The bullet could pass through, or a miss could prove deadly to someone. This is the main problem with urban shooting. I had to walk away. A shot from the opposite side of the field will be safe, but I would have to leave that for another day.

Cleaning the rabbit in the field, I kept my eyes open for more, seeing another pair close to an old willow, across the adjacent field. Packing away my kill, I walked slowly toward them. They stopped feeding and sat up. I stood still. They continued munching. Another 10 yards and they were sitting up again. I could hear a helicopter flying very low and slow across the fields towards me and looked behind to see its yellow belly. My immediate thought was that it was a police helicopter, alerted by a good citizen, that there was a man with a rifle in the field. The word ELECTRICITY was readable. They were surveying the cable line.  The pair of rabbits were still there. I got down prone, the rifle on the bipod, the range about 150 yards. The wind was behind me and I sighted the scope to maximum. Spooked by the sound of the helicopter, the rabbit turned and ran. The other one was still there and aimed for the top of its head and fired. It rolled over.

I paced out the distance, 168 paces. Further than I thought, but not a problem for the HMR with a tail wind, the bullet dropping four inches to pass through its chest. This time a big buck.

The helicopter continued on its low level flight across the field and I was reminded of an occasion, when it was the police. I was shooting rabbits at a crowded warren on a remote farm in the Chiltern Hills. Not remote enough, a dog walker had reported hearing what he described as a Wild West shootout and called the police. A police helicopter flew over and circled a couple of times. By now I had stopped shooting and was butchering a dozen rabbits. I held up my firearms licence and an officer jumped out and came over, while the helicopter hovered at a distance. He was happy with my paperwork and it was smiles all round. Not a pleasant experience, even when you are legally shooting.

Driving back down the lane, there were now three rabbits feeding around the pylon and I stopped to choose a safe vantage point. I was tempted to get the rifle out, but time was against me and I continued down the lane to join the rush hour traffic.

 

CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR season opener

March 8, 2018 at 6:28 pm

Only days ago the countryside was covered in snow, but winds from the south brought air temperatures back into the positive, although despite bright sunshine, it was still in single figures due to a cooling wind.

One of my landlords had acquired more grazing for his cattle, but there was a problem, too many rabbits. Calling me over for a meet up, he pointed out the problem areas and I took the CZ HMR with me on my first walk round. Following a scrubbed out hedge line, I saw three rabbits sit up and watch me approach. With a gusting crosswind, the 120 yard shot was not on, so I changed direction into the icy chill, in an attempt to work round into a firing position that had the wind behind me. A shallow gully gave a degree of cover, but I was spotted and saw a trio of white tails bobbing off toward a fallen tree, then out of sight. I was surprised to see so many rabbit droppings around, signs of a healthy population.

Propping the rifle up onto the raised edge of the gully with the bipod locked in place, I covered an area sloping away to the tree giving shots out to 110 yards, the angle across the wind giving a maximum of 30 degrees left and right. The lightweight 17 grain plastic tipped HMR bullet is easily blown off course, but this would keep it to a minimum. Nothing showed for ten minutes, then something moved to my right and I lifted the HMR round to cover the area. A rabbit was working along the other side of the fence toward the tree. It stopped and I fired in that instant. It dropped out of view behind long grass. I waited another ten minutes, just in case of another target, then made a bee line for the spot. A devastating head shot, characteristic of the HMR had stopped it in it’s tracks.

Placing the rabbit high on the fallen tree, I scanned for more rabbits, before continuing my recce, finding the biggest warren I’ve ever seen, which covered an area at least a hundred yards by twenty five yards, the ground raised up and pock marked by countless holes, with fresh excavation work everywhere. This field had previously had a few private ponies left to roam and can understand why the new occupant wants the rabbits gone, the loss of one of his beef cattle to a broken leg, could prove costly.

Cover from the fallen tree would provide the ideal shooting position during daylight, while the flat field will give safe access in darkness with the night vision. I passed beyond this warren, finding another half the size about two hundred yards further down. Reaching the hedgerow at the edge of the field, a pair of electricity pylons held more burrows at their bases, brambles masking more fresh digging.

At this point a car pulled up in the lane behind the hedge and the occupant came over. These meetings can often be difficult, as not everyone in the countryside agrees with the shooting of cuddly, furry rabbits. I need not have worried. He lived in the lane overlooking the field and my landlord had gone on to tell him of my intentions to clear the rabbits. He had seen me and popped over to offer me shooting over the ten acres behind his house, which was suffering the same fate. A double bonus! Passing on his phone number and the code to his gate, he warned of the two big guard dogs he kept in the field, to deter people from running lurchers over it. “Make sure you ring me before going into the field, so that I can lock them up!” No worries on that account! My new permission had also suffered with lurchers, due to the public lane and he hoped that fewer rabbits would make the visits less attractive.

Following an old hedgerow back to the fallen tree, many burrows became evident. With only about a month to go before the cattle are released onto the land, I had better get busy.

Using the tree as a cutting table, I began cleaning the shot rabbit, a big meaty doe. Eighty yards away another rabbit popped out of a burrow and surveyed the scene with its back to me. In seconds the rifle was rested on the tree trunk, the cross hairs planted on the back of the neck and the trigger squeezed. The impact tumbled the rabbit forward.

Another big doe for the freezer. I would like to have stayed longer, but with a commitment that evening and traffic to join, I had to make tracks back to the van, ignoring another pair of sitters on the way.

 

 

 

 

Weihrauch HW100 Sport add on IR Nitesite Viper Review

February 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Having flirted with night vision using a modified Sony Handycam with Nightshot and an IR torch on my Webley Viper .22 PCP, I had found that the short torch battery life was a limiting factor, as the power went down, so did the range and image on the handycam screen. 10 minutes between battery changes was about the limit. It worked well for close range rats and pigeons in the farmer’s barn, but fumbling with fresh batteries in the dark had its limits.

Occasional visits to shooting forums had highlighted a few home grown night vision systems, but the limiting factor had always been the house brick sized battery needed to run the things. Not needing to shoot after dark, until last year, when I was given permission to shoot rabbits over an 80 acre sports ground, I had put the night vision on hold. Brief low light visits had brought results, but it was time to revisit the forums to check up on the latest technology.

At last lithium batteries were being used and good reviews saw me reaching for the credit card to buy a NiteSite Viper scope add on infrared unit, which arrived in a smart shock proof case.

This is the least expensive and smallest unit with a specified range of 100 metres, more than enough for my Weihrauch HW100 Sport .22 PCP airifle, although I can see it being pressed into use with my other rifles, Career 707 FAC air, .22 semi auto Magtech and .17 HMR. More power is available at a cost, the Wolf having a quoted range of 300 yards and 500 yards for the Eagle models.

Opening up the box all the components are well protected, the idea being that the box will travel to the permission, where the parts will be assembled on site. Central in the case are two rubber sleeves to suit different sizes of scope eyepieces. Top right is the IR camera, with locations for the power jack and the screen feed. The camera has an on/off push button switch, which is silent in operation. No clicks to alert a rabbit in the dark. Bottom right is the IR torch and 3 1/2 inch screen unit. Bottom left is the lightweight lithium battery. This box housed the previous battery, a foam rubber filler taking up the now defunct space. Top left is a three pin UK mains adaptor for charging the battery, which has a charge life of over seven hours. A two pin plug is also included in the kit. Alongside the camera are two mounts for the torch/screen unit, one for a 25 mm scope tube and the other a 30 mm. With the mounts is an anti recoil bracket to firmly locate the screen unit.

Assembly onto the rifle literally takes a couple of minutes. My scope has a 25 mm tube, so the appropriate screen mount was clipped over the tube, having removed the clamp screw first. The anti recoil clip is then positioned over the mount with its slot covering the clamp screw hole.The screen unit slides into the groove at the top of the mount, the clamp screw refitted and the anti recoil clip pulled up to lock the screen. The serrated clamp nut can now be screwed on to tighten the clamp. It sounds complicated, but takes longer to say than do.

Next select the rubber sleeve that suits your scope eyepiece. This slides on up to a reduction, which positions the sleeve ready for the camera to slide in from the other end. Over the sleeve fit the battery pack, holding it in place with its velcro strap. With the camera fully home, plug in the lead from the screen and that from the battery. They are male and female connections, so fool proof. Switch on the screen and camera to check the focus of the cross hairs on the screen.

The focus of the camera is adjusted with the index finger pushing onto the rough surface of the lens holder, which is marked white to allow judgment of rotation of the holder. Rotating the lens moves it in and out allowing fine adjustments of the focal length to the scope eye piece. Each time the lens is adjusted, it is a case of pushing it back fully home in the sleeve to view the cross hairs on the screen.

With the IR torch turned fully anticlockwise in the off position with the knob at the top of the screen, for daylight use, this is the view of the cross hairs on my scope. With the focal length set at the lens, the camera can be removed and replaced without the need to reset the focus.

Weighing in at 14 oz fitted, the unit sits easily on the scope without feeling bulky. Having used a red dot scope in the past, the heads up shooting position is not difficult to master, giving a similar sensation to using a games console. Place the cross hairs on the target and squeeze the trigger.

The business end. There is a warning in the instructions not to look into the torch, when the unit is switched on, as serious damage to your eyes can be the result. Good practice would be to always turn the knob to the daylight position when in the field, adjusting the intensity to the range that you are shooting.

Due to the January weather of late, storms, rain, frost and snow, I have yet to test the NiteSite Viper in the field, but sighting down my 40 yard rear garden in pitch black conditions, I was amazed at the clear image, almost jumping out of my skin, when the neighbour’s cat emerged from behind a bush, its eyes glowing like those of a demon, as it wandered up the path toward me.

Festive pheasant pasties with sweet potato

December 23, 2017 at 9:10 pm

Gifted three brace of pheasants by a shooting friend, I occupied one end of the kitchen, while my wife was busy at the other end. The birds appeared to have run the gauntlet of several guns before hitting the deck and with several entry wounds in each, they were unsuitable for roasting, but ideal candidates for some pheasant pasties, alongside more of my popular pheasant burgers with apricots. With only days before Christmas, my wife had her sausage roll and mince pie production line in progress, getting ready for the annual influx of family to our home. This gave me the idea to try pasties with a savoury twist, by adding spicy mincemeat with a dash of whisky. Instead of traditional swede, I also substituted sweet potato, giving a touch of the exotic to a humble pastie.

The end result, a sweet tasting pasty more suited to accompany the after dinner nibbles and mince pies, than the main course. Offered up warm and sliced, they were the perfect match for late evening mulled wine. Hope there are some left for the New Year Bash.

Ingredients

600 g Minced Pheasant pieces (Coarse Blade)

200 g Sausage meat

400 g Potato, diced into 10 mm cubes

400 g Sweet Potato, diced into 10 mm cubes

200 g Red Onion, coarsely chopped

1 Rosemary sprig, stripped and chopped

3 tbs Mincemeat

3 tbs Whisky (Blended)

250 g Butter

Salt and Black Pepper to taste

2 packs Short Crust Pastry

1 Egg, beaten

Method

Cut the sausage meat into rough 20 mm cubes and add to the pheasant strips as they are minced to allow an even blend in a large bowl. Stir the vegetables into the bowl and sprinkle over the rosemary, followed by the seasoning. Scoop out the mincemeat from the jar into the mix, trying to get an even spread of the fruit throughout. Last but not least, add the three tablespoons of whisky, making sure to stir up from the bottom to avoid waste! Cover the bowl with cling film to infuse for at least an hour in the fridge. If making up your own pastry, this is good time to do so, also allowing time for the pastry to chill in the fridge.

Roll out the pastry into 3 mm thick squares and place a dessert plate over as a guide, cutting out a 170 mm diameter disc. Using a brush, paint round the upper outer face with the egg approximately 25 mm wide. Scoop out about two tablespoons of the meat / veg mix into the centre of the disc, piling up into a heap, adding a knob of butter to the top. Take two opposing sides of the disc and bring them up to meet above the centre, pinching them together between fingers and thumbs, working back down to the ends, creating a long oval. Pinching the thumb between two fingers of the same hand, go back over the join to form the traditional pasty zig zag pattern over the top. Place on a baking tray ready to cook at 180C for 50 minutes, or freeze, painting over the outside with the egg wash to give a gloss to the finished pasty.

An afternoon’s work in the kitchen made the most of what is now considered an often unwanted by product of organised game shooting.