CZ452 HMR Varmint autumn visit to the warren pays off

November 23, 2021 at 5:07 pm

One of my farmers gave me call this week to say that she had got a contractor in to cut the grass and attempt to fill in the burrows with his tractor on a large rabbit warren. Her now deceased father had done the same in previous years without lasting effect, although with me keeping the rabbit numbers down early in the year, he was able to put cattle out on the land without fear of dangerous burrows causing injury to his herd. Taking over the farm from her father, the field had been left fallow and the warren allowed to expand unchecked, until I was called in earlier this year, carrying out a cull of about twenty mature rabbits, before the undergrowth made shooting impossible.

The warren above, on my last successful visit, before the nettles and grass took over. The warren below as I found it this week, after the tractor had scoured the surface


At first glance it seemed that no rabbits could have survived the heavy machinery, but as I walked the field, recent scraping of buried burrows had already begun.

Holes were spread out along the warren and I took up station with my HMR, sitting on a dead tree, where there was some cover from a bitter north east wind.

By 3 pm there was little comfort from the weak November sun, as it settled behind the trees, while scanning the area ahead of me with the rifle on the tripod for half an hour, had shown no movement.

I opted to move 200 yards closer to the gate, where a large tree would shield me from the wind. This was close to an active burrow complex and I could cover a wide area with the rifle mounted on the tripod, which I adjusted to give a comfortable standing position.

All I needed now were some rabbits. The shadows were stretching out across the field and it was about the time that something would come out for a pee. Taking occasional sweeps of the field, I returned to this position in time to see the smooth round back of a rabbit pop out of the ground forty yards away, only to watch it disappear again down into another burrow. I’d had not chance to sight on the rabbit and heightened my concentration on the area, as once one has made the effort, the rest usually follow. It is not unusual to suddenly have half a dozen rabbits in front of you, when seconds earlier there were none.

The light was beginning to fade rapidly with the sunset, when a large rabbit emerged to bolt to another hole. Was this the same one? This time I got a shot off, which threw up dust at it’s feet, causing it to dance. It was down a blind burrow and could just see the pricked up ears. The ears flattened. I waited, holding on the aim point. It ran out and stopped. Boof! The bullet impact causing it to run on the spot and slump.

I waited for twenty minutes. No more offers. Time to pick up my reward, a healthy buck. Maybe he was going from doe to doe before bedtime.

I knocked on the door of the farmhouse to pass on the news that, although the contractor had done a good job of flattening the field, the rabbits were already busy re establishing their kingdom. Her comment “It’s a nightmare. When are you coming back?”