CZ452 Varmint .17 HMR back at the rabbit warren

May 13, 2021 at 6:51 pm

Making my third visit to a local farm in a week, my tally was at seven rabbits and the population of a massive warren were already showing signs of getting skittish, diving for cover as I approached, some running down to a ditch lined with willow at the end of the field. I decided to bide my time waiting from a vantage point in the cover of the warren to see if anything would venture out.

The evening sun was low over the field and the wind was from right to left, not ideal for the HMR with its lightweight 17 grain bullet, but there were no targets yet. A slight movement got my attention, the scope picking out a pair of ears behind undergrowth, stopping, disappearing, then reappearing further along. I could have chanced a shot to where the rabbit’s head should be, but wanted a clear shot. It hopped out into long grass raising it’s head and I aimed at the snout, allowing for the wind and squeezed the trigger. Crack! The report from the rifle echoed back as the rabbit stood up clawing the air, then dropped out of sight. I was sure that I had killed it, but settled back, working the bolt to clear the chamber and pushing it forward to load another bullet from the magazine, picking up the ejected brass case and putting it in my pocket.

Another 15 minutes and there was more movement. A pair of rabbits emerged from beneath the willow ahead and began trotting back toward the warren. Aiming for the one on the left, I let it run into the crosshairs and fired, tumbling it. The second rabbit swerved away and I snatched a shot, but missed. Working the bolt, I fired again, the rabbit crouching as the bullet passed close by, then speeding to safety further down the warren.

With no action ahead among the willows, I got up and walked forward to look for the first rabbit, finding that I had shot it through the back of the head side on, the wind having blown the bullet four inches to the left. The second rabbit had no apparent wounds. I carried them back and began taking the loins and back legs, while scouting down to the far end of the warren for movement. I spotted a rabbit close to the end of the warren, but could not see it through the scope due to the nettles and grass, waiting for it to move into a clearer area, but in got lost amongst the greenery.

The CZ Varmint hangs on the tripod V, conveniently ready for a shot.

The odd head popped up gopher style, but they were not visible through the prone scope. I had my new shooting tripod with me and lowered it with the legs out to a comfortable kneeling position and scoped the area. From the extra height I could now see the original rabbit and two others moving about and feeding. I fitted a full five shot magazine and adjusted the scope parallax to 130 yards on 12 magnification. There was still a slight breeze in my face and I aimed at the narrow rear outline of one sitting up, holding the tripod grip for stability, but then another rabbit moved close to it side on and I aimed high on its chest, breathing out and squeezing the trigger. It slumped forward. At that range with the breeze, there would have been no crack from the bullet and the other two continued about their business. I was pleased with the shot and scoped round to the one on the right sitting up. I fired and missed, and it moved forward a yard by which time I had reloaded. Aiming between the ears again it dropped into the long grass around the burrow. I now swung round to the third, but it had made a quick exit down a hole.

After another ten minutes, I picked my way carefully through the maze of burrows down to the target area and found the still warm bunnies, a buck and a pregnant doe.

The light was now going and I still had a trek back to the van, bagging up these two, thankful that I had cleaned and quartered the other pair, reducing the weight to carry. With rain forecast for most of next week, I’ll rest the warren before I hit it again.