CZ 452 HMR Varmint is a Verminator at long range.

July 10, 2015 at 12:43 pm

My phone rang. “The rabbits are back!” The call was from farmer Ray. I’d cleared the rabbits from his paddock a few years before, allowing him to start using it for stock raising again. Regular visits had kept the numbers in check, but then his daughter needed somewhere for her horse at the start of the year and like all good dads, offered the paddock, which of course was what she wanted all along. I’d occasionally poked the .22 Magtech over the fence to bag the odd close range rabbit, when the horse was at the far end of the paddock, the rifle firing subsonic rounds through the heavily silenced barrel, not causing any traumas to the equine breed, but the more effective CZ HMR creates a sharp crack, when it’s supersonic bullet parts the air, despite the silencer and was off limits. With the horse on new pasture, it was time for some serious pest control.

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Meeting me at the gate, Ray was keen to show me the latest infestation, disturbing a pair feeding 10 yards away, which promptly bolted across the paddock, taking with them the half dozen other rabbits on show. If I’d been on my own, the Magtech .22 would have bagged those two, before they had reached the fence. The building site style fence is rabbit proof mesh, but only has the ability to slow down the escapees, as it leaks like a sieve, allowing them to crawl underneath to the brambles on the other side.

I was shocked that the grass had been eaten to the ground, recalling a visit in late May, when it was at it’s most lush.

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The HMR was now the tool for the job and I returned back from the van to see two sitters, one at 80 yards to my left and one along the hedge line to my right about 40 yards away. The wind was gusting across the paddock, not ideal for the longer shot and rested the rifle on the fence, adjusting the scope down to 4x mag. The rabbit sat stock still, a survival response that has evolved to protect it from predators not armed with supersonic bullet firing rifles. Fortunately for the rabbit, it was sitting head on to me. A head shot at this range, would pass through into the body cavity and destroy the meat, so I waited for it to move round for a side shot. Seeing the other sitter now ambling back to the fence, I swung round to the new target, hitting it between the shoulders, as it climbed the bank beyond. One down, but irretrievable behind the wire, the near one now gone.

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Waiting in the corner under a shady hawthorn, I had a good view of the paddock, while masked by the shadows and it wasn’t long before there were two dark blobs at the far end, which had not been there a minute earlier. Rabbits have this ability, they sit unobserved at the edge, then sprint ten yards into the open. Resetting the scope to 12x mag, I sighted on the nearest a hundred yards away and squeezed the trigger, slumping the rabbit forward with a well aimed head shot. The other merely looked up. I worked the rifle bolt to eject the empty case, pushing another bullet into the breech and allowing for the crosswind, eased the trigger again, watching the rabbit leap skyward with the impact. Unseen before, another broke cover and made it back behind the wire, my next shot missing as it crawled through the brambles, but the last in the magazine found the spot to halt it’s progress.

Clipping a fresh magazine in place, I looked up to see the 40 yard rabbit was back in place to my right, but it bolted back into the hedge, before I could get my sights on it. Ten minutes had passed and no more shows, so it was back to the van for a drink and a sandwich, topping up my spare magazine in the meantime. Ray tapped on the window, to say that the near rabbit was back again and I kept down out of it’s view behind the fence, being ready to fire the moment I reached it, popping up to see my quarry munching away for it’s few remaining seconds, flipping over when struck, to Ray’s applause, looking round to see him grinning, giving me a double thumbs up.

The rifle report sent more rabbits scurrying down the left hand side, but they filtered into nettles and safety beyond a hay feeder. Entering the paddock, this feeder gave me cover to spring the tripod into place and settled down prone to wait for them to emerge from their hidey holes over a hundred yards away. A big buck was the first out, sitting erect to scan the area, while the cross hairs were placed firmly on it’s head, the tiny .17 inch dia bullet sent on it’s way from my concealed sniping position. Apart from one more, that ran out, then back again from the nettles, that was all from this position, the population now in spooked mode and I moved round to scan the wire fence again, the sun illuminating the white chest of a sitter high on the bank behind. With Ray watching from his garden, this was the easiest and last target of the evening, the rabbit tumbling like a rag doll to the bottom.

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Some people ask how I can shoot these cuddly animals, but without control of these vermin, the paddock would soon be returned to a wasteland, so like the Terminator, I will be back!