Magtech .22 seeks out rabbits around the farm

October 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm

What a difference a year makes. Last autumn I was called to a small farm owned by a couple in their 80’s, who were at the end of their tether, due to the land being overrun by rabbits. As we had talked on that first meeting in the garden of their house, bunnies were hopping around, through hedges, in the flower beds and digging up the lawn, while further afield, the owners had given up on their vegetable garden, the surrounding area dotted with feeding rabbits. Twice weekly visits with my Magtech .22 semi auto and CZ 452 .17 HMR, soon got the numbers under control, down to the day that I went home empty handed. ┬áSince then, an occasional visit with the HMR had kept the hedgerows in check, but today it was time for a scout round the outbuildings with the Magtech, arriving at dusk.

Due to the age of it’s owners and a son unwilling to take on the farm, the outbuildings are in a sad state of disrepair, while offering plenty of hiding places for burrowing rabbits, that seem to delight in a game of Hide and Seek. This yard was no different and white tails were melting into the undergrowth, as I rounded the corner, unable to get a clear shot among the rubbish dump. Stalking through, a thump to my right highlighted a big buck stamping a warning, as it turned between a gap in the fence. Swinging the rifle round, it’s shoulders were in the cross hairs for that moment, the barrel spat and the rabbit fell forward without a twitch. At 15 yards, the RWS 40 grain hollow point subsonic bullet had passed straight through, stopping the buck instantly, the report from the silencer being quieter than my air rifle.

At the boundary of the yard, I waited for more movement, shielded by the shed and a tree, being able to view back down toward the far fence. Within minutes I could make out a rabbit picking it’s way through brambles from the lane adjacent to the yard. I had time to wrap the rifle sling round my are left arm, which would help steady the shot, when it came. The rabbit passed in and out of view, as it made it’s way through to the fresh grass 40 yards ahead of me. It appeared from behind a pile of logs into a space, I fired the instant it stepped forward and missed. The bullet rattled through the brambles, startling the rabbit, which turned and ran toward me. I squeezed the trigger and missed again, but it continued on it’s path running into the next one seconds later, a perfect head shot tumbling it over. Two in ten minutes, good going, the Magtech being light weight and a semi automatic, proving the right tool for the job.

With no more signs, I gathered up and made my way down the path towards the barn. Opening the gate, I looked up to see rabbit number three sitting staring at me twenty yards away. In slow motion, I eased the rifle up, but watched it spring away, through the next gate to stop briefly, then bound off behind the barn. Continuing round, to appear at the other end of the barn, there it was again, sitting waiting for me. This was a fifty yard standing shot. I needed to get closer and rest the rifle on the wooden fence. Ducking down, screened by brambles, I reached the fence and peered over. Gone again.

This was cat and mouse time. I decided to move on and stake out an area bordering a stream, where old straw bales provide the ideal spot for lying out in wait. With the scope adjusted to the edge of the brambles along the bank, 40 yards away, I reflected on last year, when I shot seven rabbits from this very vantage point. The light was fading fast, when a brown smudge popped up among the brambles. The farmer’s cat? The scope illuminated a rabbit. Aiming at the white bib of it’s chest, my shot flipped it over backwards down the bank. I couldn’t wait to see if any more were coming out to play, I needed to pick this one up and get on my way. My heart slumped, when I saw where the rabbit had ended up. It was in the stream beneath brambles. Sliding head first down the bank, I could just get my hand past the the scratching thorns, my finger tips able to get a grip on a back leg and drag it back up. Then I had to get out. Madness.

Walking back, the barn rabbit’s ears were on show, could I get a shot? Not from here. I walked back round to the gate and there he was ten yards away. I raised the rifle. Boing! He was gone again. No time now. Better luck next time.