CZ452 .17 HMR spring rabbits

April 10, 2014 at 11:57 am

Winter rain had kept me away from this landlocked field since November, with no access for my vehicle, it’s a case of walking in over a wooden bridge along a footpath. Most of the time the bridge was under water, or approached through a quagmire created by the horses on either side, so after a couple of abortive visits, I’d not been back.

My worst fears were justified, when I climbed the style from the bridge, the rabbit population had exploded over the mild winter and young kitten rabbits were bouncing about among the hedgerows, evidence of my lack of attention to their parents over the past six months. The land owner keeps about a dozen horses on this field and is not happy sharing his grass with their furry relatives. Walking along the hedge line to my preferred shooting position, I could see rabbits two hundred yards away observing my approach and getting ready to melt back into the foliage. With a gusting crosswind, I was not prepared to chance a shot beyond 100 yards, the light weight 17 grain HMR bullet taking on a mind of it’s own in these conditions, a head shot not a certainty and a miss, or wounding a probability.

By the time I reached my chosen spot, the grass was clear ahead and I tucked myself back into a recess in the hedge and made myself comfortable, lying on my opened out gun bag. At this point I realised that I should have brought my camo net, which I could have draped over the small bush in front of me for more cover.

I didn’t have long to wait, when two rabbits bounded out from my side of the hedge and began feeding 50 yards away. I waited for the one in clearest view to present a head shot, then sent it leaping skyward with a reflex kick. The other one sat up startled, then ran off as I shifted the bolt to chamber another bullet. Once upon a time, in the early days of shooting this field, I could take two, or three at a sitting, these days the click of the bolt can have them running for cover.

I settled down again and watched the world go by. It was good to feel the warmth of the sun again, while long tailed tits flitted through the bushes and a robin sang. Every now and then a pair of frisky rabbits would get my pulse going, as they raced in and out of the hedge in front of me, not stopping long enough for a shot, but keeping me on my metal. It was while watching an out of season pheasant strut casually out from the dark of the blossom covered thicket, that I noticed another rabbit had appeared, as if by magic, from it’s burrow 80 yards away. I swung the CZ452 round and fired, the echoing crack of the rifle being joined by the thwack of a successful head shot.

Through the scope I could see more rabbit activity on the far side of the field 250 yards away and decided to up sticks and work my way round using cover from the bushes to get within range. Picking up my kills, I was making my way over, when the sound of the landowner’s 4×4 scattered my intended targets, as he made his way down to feed the horses. That was it, game over, he would spend the next hour tending to his charges. Time for me to go, but not before showing him that I was back on the scene again.