Magtech 7002 semi auto .22 rimfire spring rabbit watch

May 6, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Once a regular on my list of permissions, the equestrian centre has been reduced to just the occasional visit these days, due to lack of rabbits on this once prolific 80 acre site. Bounded by a large housing estate on three sides, it is possible that poaching, or myxomatosis has decimated the numbers, but a call to the owners had a positive report of more rabbits seen around the grounds.

Arriving on a bright spring afternoon there was little evidence of a rabbit revival, the long driveway, once offering a shot, or two, still devoid of rabbits. Parking up in the yard, I was met by the lady owner, who told me that they had seen rabbits around the feed storage sheds recently, but walking out that way with the Magtech failed to show any sign of rabbits, even recent droppings and I carried on out toward the wood.

Bluebells were already covering the ground, being early this year. Birds were singing, making this a very pleasant country walk, but there were still no signs of rabbits, despite frequent stops to wait and watch for movement. A muntjac deer burst from cover, making me start, the young doe trotting on to the next clump of fresh green foliage, being the only thing of interest apart from squirrels.

The nature walk continued, passing through the wood I could see from the higher ground two boundaries with no sign of bunnies, where once there would have been small groups every hundred yards. Turning back I took the path parallel to the wood, there was still time to drive on to another permission, where I was bound to have more success. Picking up my pace to climb the rise, I stopped and ducked down. A big rabbit was feeding in the enclosure next to the path ahead about 70 yards away.

Keeping down, I slowly moved forward, getting down to crawl to the top of the rise. It was still there, sitting up facing back to the path. Resting the rifle on my bag, I got ready for the shot, just as it moved back to the path. The rabbit stopped at the fence post, it’s head clearly visible. This was my only chance. I squeezed the trigger and it sprang forward, lying motionless.

The rabbit was only yards from a fresh burrow, a delay on my part would have seen it lost. I was pleased with the shot, at 45 yards just behind the eye, a testament to the accuracy and hitting power of the 42 grain Winchester subsonic rounds.

After cleaning out the rabbit I moved on, this action had reduced my future chances here once more, but as they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I did see a pair of rabbits along a far hedge line as I walked back to the stables, but nothing else and had removed the magazine ready to return to the van, when a rabbit ran across the path toward the sheds. Stopping to refit the magazine and cock the action, I stepped round the fence into the alleyway to see the rabbit against a shed twenty yards away. It froze and I fired. Two others now appeared from nowhere down by a wood pile and I hit one of them, firing again to make sure. Short and sweet.

As the owner had said, they WERE around the feed sheds, a stake out may have saved a walk, but its not all about putting food on the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career 707 .22 PCP Carbine rabbit stopper

April 22, 2019 at 10:47 am

Like myself, Neale my brother-inlaw is a keen gardener, who has been busy raising seedlings in his greenhouse ready to plant out. Last week we visited Neale and he took us down the garden to show us that something had eaten his recently planted lettuces. Protected against wood pigeons with netting and old CDs dangling from strings, he could not figure out what had cropped to the ground the fresh young plants. “Rabbits” I said, pointing to fresh, round shiny droppings on the grass next to the veggie patch.

Having lived in the same house for over 40 years, apart from rats, which were dealt with by my .177 Relum springer air rifle, Neale had never had rabbit trouble before, even with a large wood that his 100 yard garden backs onto and wondered where they had appeared from. Further along the road there had been a single bungalow in an acre of land, the smallholding having been sold to property developers, who had now just completed a dozen houses on the site. I guessed that the rabbits had been occupying the plot, until pushed out by the builders, going into the wood, or migrating through the other gardens over the winter to now home in on Neale’s tender lettuces.

That evening while shutting up the greenhouse, he saw them, two rabbits coming out from under a hedge, watching as they scouted round the sheds and a rough patch of uncultivated ground. Fascinated at first Neale watched them, until they made their way up toward the now empty lettuce bed. He had stepped out into their path and seen them dive back under the hedge. Later looking out from the kitchen, there they were again, bold as brass sitting munching on the back lawn. A chain link fence finishes at the hedge and next day Neale cut up some old steel fencing to fill the gap underneath the hedge. They were back on the lawn that evening. A rabbit can easily pass through a four inch square mesh fence and they had.

My suggestion that I bring an air rifle round the following evening was accepted and I arrived early to survey the scene looking for a vantage point. Neale had already surrounded the veggie patch with netting, having planted out more young lettuces.

Both of the shed doors faced in the wrong directions, while shooting from the kitchen to the lawn had the greenhouse in the background, which was bound to result in a broken pane of glass, if trying to hit a running rabbit. I had brought a camo net and strung it across between the greenhouse and the chain link fence, placing a comfy garden chair behind it. The net has a pair of windows at seat height, a relic of a previous hide and ideal for shooting from a chair. After a cup of tea and putting on a thick jumper under my camo jacket, I was ready to pull down my balaclava ski mask and fitted a camo cap over the top to hide my white face. This my wife and brother in-law thought was hilarious, taking a snap on his phone, before I made my way back down the garden.

From Neale’s description they were large rabbits and I had brought my Career 707 .22 FAC rated carbine to deal with them. The .22 Magtech rimfire would have been dangerous in the confines of this narrow garden, but with 28 ft/lbs firing a 19 grain Baracuda Hunter Extreme, the Career is the safe, but deadly option.

Sitting back in the chair looking through the net window, my concentration had waned after 30 minutes, jerking alert at the sight of a big rabbit, ears folded back, forcing through the square mesh under the hedge. Aiming through the net window, I was tempted to take a shot at this defenseless animal twenty yards away, but held the rifle to my eye waiting for its mate to follow seconds later, this time the muted report from the silencer was drowned out by the thud of the pellet finding the target. The first rabbit, now on the grass, sat up and bolted to the corner by the gate, trying to get down the gap between it and the hedge. I stood up, in seconds working the Winchester style trigger under lever action to cock the rifle and load another pellet, which hit in the upper body, flipping the rabbit over and leaving it motionless. It had been an execution, all over in seconds.

I laid them out on the lawn. My wife said “Poor rabbits.” Neale looked shocked, “It was so quick.” They had been watching from the kitchen, but had missed the final few seconds of the stakeout. He refused the offer of the rabbits, preferring prepacked, supermarket factory farmed chicken. The doe was in kit, so it was just as well that they were stopped. Neale has made a better job of the fence, using two inch square heavy mesh, while the veggies are in an enclosure resembling Fort Knox. I’m not sure that he will tell me of rabbit trouble in the future, but the Career will be ready if he does..

CZ HMR 452 Varmint long range rabbit sniping

April 15, 2019 at 3:55 pm

My chance to return to a farm, where rabbits were busy creating a new warren, came after a week of rain, although clear blue skies brought a chilling wind from the Baltic. It was already late afternoon and the shadows were extending, as I unpacked the CZ HMR Varmint from the van.

The previous visit had been a quick walk round with my Magtech .22 semi auto rimfire, where I had been lucky to bag a couple of buck rabbits, while others had been well out of range of the .22, but now that I had the HMR with me, I set out across the fields toward the warren.

White tails were bobbing long before I reached the fence line, settling down to wait with the rifle rested on a horizontal section of woodwork. I had been watching a pair of buzzards circling high above the trees and looked back across the field to see the outline of a rabbit sitting out close to the far fence, a good 150 yards away. On a still day this would have been a certain shot, but with a steady east wind blowing at an angle into my face, I had to allow for drift of the tiny .17 inch bullet. Aiming high at the nose, I expected the hit to carry right and down into the head, but the crack from the silencer saw the rabbit duck down. I had missed, passing over the top. The rabbit was still there as I quickly chambered another round, this time aiming dead on for the head. Crack, boof! A body shot lifted the rabbit and it lay still.

Beyond the far fence I could see more rabbits moving about, and after 15 minutes without any shows my side, crossed into the field to collect my rabbit, turning it over to see that the HMR body shot had destroyed the meat. I left it for the buzzards.

Over the fence, rabbits were everywhere, running in all directions, many young kitts along with a few adults, gone in seconds. Ahead was the old warren that I had harvested the year before, now showing signs of fresh burrowing among the new growth of stinging nettles. An hour of hide and seek resulted in two more young kitts, before I gave up chasing shadows, as they darted amongst the greenery.

Turning back to the farm I could see several rabbits close to the willows and followed a hollow in the field, keeping low, until I was within 120 yards of the group, pushing the rifle to the crest, before taking up position behind the telescopic sight for a solid bipod mounted shot. The wind had now dropped and spoilt for choice, I took on the nearest adult, dropping it immediately. Scattering in confusion, the rabbits cleared the area, but one stopped at the edge of the trees long enough for a second shot. Two in twenty seconds.

The HMR had proved its worth yet again, the heavy steel 16 inch barrel ensuring repeatable accuracy over long range, while the .17 inch, 17 grain V-Max bullet travelling at over 2,500 feet per second delivers over a 100 ft/lbs of energy at a 100 yards.

Looking back across to the warren, rabbits like prairie dogs, were sitting up at their burrows in the evening sun, unaware of my plans for the coming season.

 

Magtech 7022 semi auto .22 spring rabbits

March 28, 2019 at 8:36 pm

Arriving at one of my shooting permissions for the first time this season, it was more of a social visit to the lady farm owner, than anything else. Ruth was happy for me to continue controlling the rabbit population, although she commented that lately rabbits were a rare sight on her land, especially her garden and vegetable patch, which had once been overrun.

Taking the Magtech semi auto out of the van, I went on a patrol of the farm buildings looking for signs of fresh burrow digging and recent droppings, stopping to peer over the fence of a small paddock, where a rabbit was preoccupied munching on a clear area of fresh grass.

Resting on the fence, I sighted on the back of its head between the ears. At 60 yards this allowed for the bullet drop on my 50 yard rifle zero. A squeeze of the trigger and the rabbit tumbled forward.

A healthy buck to start the ball rolling, I bagged this up and continued my search. Ruth had been right about the area round the farm, there were few signs of rabbits, even a reliable warren had apparently been abandoned and I continued out toward the pastures.

The willows have proved productive in the past and I made my way down toward them keeping my eyes peeled, unfortunately being spotted by a group of rabbits among the tangle of branches, their white tails bobbing away to safety, before I could take a shot.

Turning right, I worked my way slowly along the fence line, seeing a big rabbit pop out of a burrow in the next field. It was about 200 yards away and keeping the line of fence posts between us, I reduced the distance to a hundred yards, before it sat up to look round and sniff the air. My shooting jacket and trousers have been conditioned by years of crawling through fields and muck, while without a hint of aftershave round my chin, the smell of dangerous human must be limited. At this range with my .17 HMR it would have been game over for the rabbit, but the .22 subsonic bullet drop at distance is about eight inches at 100 yards. The wind was behind me and I crouched down until the rabbit had got back to eating, covering another slow twenty yards before it sat up again. Resting the Magtech on my bag. allowing six inches holdover, I fired and watched the rabbit duck away out of sight. I couldn’t tell if I had hit it and got up again moving along the fence for a closer look.

 The land ahead was full of fresh earth from burrows and as I scanned the area, a rabbit popped up out of a burrow, saw me and dived back down again. Next time I would be ready. Moving along the fence, I waited behind a bush. Minutes later, 50 yards to my right another appeared. I raised the rifle and fired, the rabbit somersaulting as the bullet hit bone with a crack. With no more shows after ten minutes, I crossed the fence to retrieve the rabbit. There was no sign of the first, which I had obviously missed, but my second lay still.

 

A perfect head shot, another buck that will not be breeding this year. There were deep burrows everywhere along this tree line, a hazard for cattle grazing the field.

I continued my tour, noting several areas needing attention, seeing rabbits out in the evening sun, too far away for the Winchester .22 subs, even my Remington High Velocity bullets would have struggled. Next time I will bring the HMR. I was happy, two nice rabbits in the bag and plenty more where they came from.

 

Magtech 7002 semi auto .22 first 2019 rabbit

January 26, 2019 at 4:17 pm

A week of snow and ice was changed over night by a welcome west wind from the Atlantic and as the temperature climbed to a heady eleven degrees, loaded up my Magtech 7002 semi auto for a walk round a new permission, that bordered an existing permission gained last year. A Christmas courtesy call to the land owner, had revealed that he had control of the uncultivated 25 acres to the north of his flat pasture.

Gaining entry to the land was the hard part, an overgrown, rotted gate could not be passed without a chainsaw, but a dry ditch along the boundary, allowed me to pass beneath an overhanging tangle of branches to a more open area, the ditch taking me down into a steep sided valley. Rabbit burrows dotted the banks, some recently dug, which I noted for warmer times. More mature trees now gave access to the steep slope to my right and I climbed up through them, clumps of snowdrops pushing through the dead leaves.

Climbing to the top, the trees opened out to reveal an area of undulating unmanaged ground that stretched for half a mile, or more to the east, with bushes down toward the pasture in the south. The land to the north continued upward over a brow.

Walking ahead, there was movement in the brush to my right, as a fallow deer turned and made off over the brow to my left, followed shortly by another pair bounding away across the open ground. There was no more movement and I continued to explore, making my way down to the pasture to get my bearings, finding burrows among the bushes close to the fence on my side.

Making my way back up through the jungle of branches to the open ground at the top, evidence of rabbit droppings were everywhere, finding several communal latrines as I walked along.

Having covered 200 yards of the rough ground, I had seen enough to make a return visit in the near future, this was just a scouting session and made my way back to the trees on the skyline.

A movement ahead made me stop. Had a bird flown across the bushes? Raising the scope to my eye, I scanned the ground. Nothing. The white chest of a rabbit raised from behind a clump of grass. A fatal move. My trigger finger tightened and the rabbit flipped over backward. Still kicking wildly, a quick second shot to the head, ceased any more movement.

The Magtech .22 semi automatic had paid off again, the first shot to the upper chest had missed any vital organs, while the second to the head had made sure. After bagging this one up, I made my way back down to the roadside and the van, looking forward to richer pickings in the spring.

 

 

Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto Autumn rabbits

November 12, 2018 at 6:49 pm

It is a while since my last visit to the equestrian centre, due to a severe lack of rabbits, good for a walk in the country air, but not good for the pot, this wooded path once yielding several rabbits at a pass. I was back again on a bright windy Autumn afternoon, following a call from the owners, to say that they had begun to see more rabbits in this area.

The Magtech .22 is the ideal rifle for this style of shooting, where a steady, stop and start movement will often flush out a rabbit, or two, its light weight allowing the rifle to be brought rapidly up to the eye.

I heard the first rabbit before I saw it, as it trotted away through the undergrowth to my left, stepping over to the right to get a view of it. It had seen me and stopped as it considered crossing the open path to the ditch on the other side. Illuminated by the low sunshine, it offered a perfect shot, the 42 grain Winchester Subsonic flipping it over at 30 yards.

As I paunched this rabbit, I saw another cross from the field into the ditch about 50 yards further up, but could not get a bead on it. They seemed to have repopulated the banks of the ditch this dry summer, it often has water in it for most of the year, the soft sandy soil ideal for burrowing, but now it was full of dead grass, ideal cover.

I walked from tree to tree, scanning the ditch through the scope, seeing a large rabbit sitting at the top of the ditch looking out to the field beyond. At 40 yards, resting on the tree trunk, I aimed between the shoulders and saw it jump before toppling down the bank, disturbing an unseen rabbit in the grass below, which ran a few yards and stopped still. Sighting on the new target, the Magtech barked through the silencer, dropping the second rabbit. Two in under a minute.

I walked to the end of the path, but saw no more and turned at the top, to walk along the ditch from the field side. A shape in the field moved, it was a rabbit about 80 yards away, too far for a safe shot with the .22, but I crouched low and kept it in sight. The light was already going fast, the sun having sunk below the trees and I hoped to get closer before it saw me. It moved out of the field onto the path, then to the top of the ditch, sitting bolt upright. I’d closed down another twenty yards and it was now, or never, getting down prone to shoot off my gun bag, rotating the scope to its 12 x magnification. In this light, the rabbit was almost invisible and I aimed at the top of the chest, then squeezed the trigger, the rifle bouncing with the recoil, as the rabbit jumped into the ditch. Missed it! I walked down to check, using a bush as a guide. It was there, still kicking. Although it was probably only a nerve reflex, I stepped down and fired again in the back of its head. It was still.

These rabbits were in a confined area of the ditch and I saw no more burrows along its length. Having switched to using the new 42 grain Winchester subsonic .22 bullets, they have proved both accurate and deadly in the Magtech 7002. This is the time when rabbits are out feeding, before the cold wet winter gets a grip.

 

 

 

 

CZ452 HMR Rabbit late call

November 1, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Following my visit to Saunderton last week for some rabbit pest control, I arrived at the farm this week to shoot at the other end, where I had been informed by farmer Lee, that the rabbits were repopulating the far corner.

Ten years ago my approach would have been greeted by white tails bobbing back into cover, despite crawling the last 50 yards to the crest of a slight rise in the ground. The same approach this week was a waste of effort with no rabbits in sight, although after a steep half mile uphill walk and then the grass high scrabble to my vantage point, it probably did a lot for my personal fitness.

On the way up, a group of grey rounded shapes got me exited, but one look through the scope confirmed them as half a dozen guinea fowl, which set off at a pace down the field, running at top speed, then taking flight a few feet off the ground toward the furthest hedgerow. Somebody owns them, or owned them, they are very independent and unlike chickens do not like to be contained in a coop.

There was a biting crosswind, left to right and with nothing showing for half an hour, I decided to walk down to the tree line to check out signs of rabbit activity, finding several runs beneath the trees, but few droppings. A hundred yards apart were two new badger setts, the freshly cleared earth spilling out into the field, the entrance holes over a foot in diameter, compared to the six inch wide rabbit holes. Rabbits and badgers do not mix, a badger easily capable of digging out and killing young rabbits. This is what happened further down the hill, a prolific warren destroyed by badgers, that took over the area.

I walked along the tree line to the top of another crest, settling down in the long grass at the edge, with a view down into the dip, the corner being 120 yards away, an easy shot with the .17 HMR and a following wind.

 

Looking at my watch, I had been here for an hour and the shadows were already lengthening, the sun beginning to sink below Bledlow Ridge in the west. I had optimistically packed another game bag, expecting plenty of action, having not visited this corner for at least two years, after the returns had not warranted the 35 mile drive from home. This looked like it could end up as a costly expedition, when taking fuel into account. Hoping to avoid the worst of the evening rush hour, I set my time limit at 4 pm, deciding that I would leave then whatever the outcome.

There are more unpleasant ways to spend an hour, lying there watching kites almost motionless, hanging in the breeze, while knowledgeable pigeons and crows changed their flight patterns to a void my position. Scoping along the tree line, I searched for movement among the nettles and long grass bordering the field, but nothing was moving. Suddenly two large rabbits emerged from beneath the furthest tree, one stopping at the edge, the other ten feet out. Lying, resting on my elbows with the rifle stock crooked in my shoulder, I was ready for them, sighting on the rabbit at the edge, a head shot dropped it, while the other still sat upright. Quickly shifting another bullet into the CZ chamber, the second rabbit toppled at a range of 120 yards. It was ten minutes to four.

Two healthy rabbits, that unfortunately for them appeared at the wrong time. For me it was time to leave, bagging them up as they were, their combined weight telling, as I walked back down to the farm and the van, the busy roads in contrast to the remote hill top.

 

CZ452 Varmint .17 HMR Autumn Stakeout

October 25, 2018 at 9:07 pm

A welcome call from a farmer up in the Chiltern Hills, saw me heading north to Saunderton this week. Once overrun with rabbits, over ten years I had depleted their numbers to the point that it was no longer financially viable for me to make the twenty mile journey to the farm and I had reduced my visits to once, or twice a year just for the goodwill of keeping the shooting permission.

Meeting Lee at the farm, he said that they were back in force at the twenty five acre field, due to badgers taking over the lower hedgerows, causing the rabbits to migrate to the higher ground. At the other end of the farm is a ten acre high meadow, which once had little grass due to the rabbits. This had been my original quest, decimating the population in the first year, allowing the farmer to reseed the grass for his beef cattle. Lee had begun to see rabbits again along the far hedge line and suggested that I might like to give the meadow a try, before moving on to the twenty five acres. This suited me fine, as we had already spent too much time catching up on past events. After driving to the nearest gate, there was still the little matter of a half mile hike up the steep incline to the hedge.

As I walked along the edge toward a curve in the field, a rabbit cantered out into the open 130 yards away and stopped. In the low light it was barely visible, but after sinking slowly to the ground, with the scope at x12 magnification, there was a clear side on shot. With was no wind and allowing for an inch bullet drop at that range, I aimed at the chest above the front shoulder. Squeezing the trigger broke the silence, watching the rabbit topple to its right and lay still. One for the bag.

I moved closer to the curve, where many years before the council had dumped slabs of tarmac and rubble the other side of the hedge, which had proved a safe haven for a massive rabbit warren, with a meadow full of grass and tasty roots just a few hops away. Settling down in the long grass at the edge, I had a good view of the warren, coming to the conclusion that there were no great numbers of rabbits here, as the grass was still in good condition, with no signs of digging. After half an hour, I was ready to collect my rabbit and try further along, but my patience was rewarded, when two rabbits dashed out into view to sit side by side. The CZ HMR was already cradled ready to shoot and I raised the scope to my eye and shot the one on the left. The second turned and darted for cover, ducking down to get under the wire, the scope following it’s move, my right hand rapidly working the rifle bolt to chamber the next round, which found its mark in the back of the rabbit’s head.

Another twenty minute wait took me to 4 pm with no more sightings, so I moved forward to pick up my harvest, noting that there were few rabbit droppings in the area, my guess being that this was only a recently established colony.

A trio of large healthy rabbits, that will provide some enjoyable meals this winter.

CZ452 evening HMR stake out

September 5, 2018 at 7:13 pm

Making my monthly courtesy visit to one of my farms, I climbed the hill overlooking the yard, where I have a clear view over about 300 yards to the sides and good sight of the sheds ahead of me, where the lady owner keeps hens, ducks and geese.

The wet spring and hot summer had been perfect for haymaking and the barn was stacked out, with the surplus filling the yard, giving cover for a marauding fox, that had already taken a couple of chickens and a prime egg laying duck.

This had resulted in Ruth, the owner, having to sit out on guard with a big stick to ward off the fox. The irony is, that the fox had been dumped overnight in the driveway of the farm by an animal rescue group, who left the tame animal to fend for itself. The next morning the fox was curled up on her doorstep and Ruth decided that she would feed it, hoping that, if fed, it would not worry her birds. Wrong. A week later it dashed into the yard and dragged off a duck, fatally wounding it, despite Ruth’s best efforts to revive the bird.

A fox’s nature is to kill and sooner or later, that cuddly looking animal will revert to its inborn character. Ruth was now locking her prized birds away at 5 pm each evening, as the fox was doing its rounds between then and 7 pm, just in time for my visit. I had come for rabbits with the HMR, the 4.5mm  diameter 17 grain bullet ideal for them, but a bit lightweight for a fox beyond 80 yards, but a head shot at that range would do the trick, if I got the chance.

I settled down at the top of the hill and waited for movement. It was pleasantly warm with the sun on my back, but the sight of a big rabbit trotting slowly around the edge of the barn, brought me to my senses. Following the rabbit in the crosshairs, as it approached the gate, I held fire. It stopped and I squeezed the trigger. A half jump and it toppled over, an ideal fox bait. I left it there.

Later, after a movement to my right, I spotted another rabbit entering the gateway at the top of the lane in front of the barn. This was an 120 -130 yard shot, but with no wind, easy with the HMR, the rabbit spinning round with the impact. I left that one there too. Both rabbits gained the attention of a pair of magpies, but fortunately for them they flew off. The HMR makes a mess of magpies.

I was intending to leave at 7 pm, when the extended shadow of the fox appeared behind the barn. The animal was invisible to me at first, but there was no mistaking the deep red coat, as it danced toward the dead rabbit, briefly bending down to sniff it, then slipping behind the shed out of sight. Out it came again and I concentrated on the rabbit. It stopped short and looked straight at me on the hill, turning away to the right behind the barn. I kicked myself for not taking the shot, its white bib clearly in my sights for a second.

Picking up the rifle, I ran to the right, hoping for a shot, as it passed the other side of the barn, only to see it loping off toward a stand of willows at the bottom of the field, the white tip of its tail following into the long grass.

With the sun behind me, I thought that my head and shoulders profile would be masked by the sun. OK for rabbits, but not a wily fox. I retrieved my rabbits and headed for home.

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.