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.