CZ 452 .17 HMR long shot after haymaking

September 21, 2017 at 11:41 am

A wet, then hot spring had resulted in rapid grass growth on most of my shooting permissions this year, giving plenty of cover for the rabbits, but not a lot of use for my CZ HMR. A call to one of my farmers confirmed that he had completed haymaking and that there were rabbits “everywhere”. I took his description with a pinch of salt, as any numbers over a couple count as everywhere in his book, but it was worth the trip to find out, the freezer looking a bit bare, due to a burger making session.

Arriving in the late afternoon, I had a good view down the field and could count five rabbits along the edge, but once through the gate, the nearest three were sitting up ready to melt back into the hedge row.

There were two still feeding out in the open about 200 yards away and I made my way across to the far edge, keeping in cover as much as possible, hoping to close the range down before I was spotted. One sat up. I stood still. It went back down to feed. They were about 150 yards away now, in range for the HMR, but with a slight breeze in my face, not a sure shot. I got down and belly crawled another ten yards. Over the curve of the field, one was just visible, the other only a set of ears. Another five yards and the prone shot was on. Lining up on the right shoulder, I eased the trigger and the rabbit toppled over. Working the bolt, the second rabbit was flat to the ground and heading for safety. I have harvested this field too often.

After waiting for 15 minutes, nothing else showed, so got up and began walking to collect the first rabbit, only to see another appear in the field 50 yards beyond it. Back down again, through the scope it was facing me. Shooting for the table, its side on head, or shoulder shots with the HMR. Even at 100 yards the bullet can pass right through from head to tail, the percussion ruining the meat. Another wait and it turned broadside on. Crack! It jumped, running in thin air and dropped. Another unseen rabbit was up and running, slowing down only to negotiate the brambles, before vanishing. On new permissions, I have shot three, or four from one spot, but not here recently.

I waited 20 minutes this time. Further round, well out of range, a small group were now feeding and I made my way to pick up both rabbits, keeping my eye on the group. Maybe another shot would be on, but one by one they slipped away. Another wait would have seen them out again, but behind me toward the gate, the others were feeding again. I had paced the distance to the second rabbit, being pleased with 146. Zeroed at 120 yards on a still day, the Honady .17 Magnum Round gives an almost flat trajectory out to 150 yards, needing only a one inch hold over.

These were big rabbits, making a change from the young ones of late, obviously out making the most of the fresh grass shoots to put on fat before winter. The field curves round and I knew that I would be spotted before making cover and sure enough white tails were bobbing back to safety, before I reached a small bush with long grass at its base. Patience is a virtue required for this daylight shooting and I settled down behind the rifle, scanning through the scope for movement along the far end bramble bushes.

This time like magic, a rabbit popped into view in minutes a hundred yards away, falling to a quick head shot. These three heavy rabbits were just right for my planned bunny pasties and I made my way back to the van just in time to meet the rash hour traffic home.