CZ452 Varmint .17 HMR searches out hide and seek rabbits

July 12, 2019 at 1:26 pm

A brief evening visit to one of my permissions gave me a frustrating hour, as rabbits darted in and out of the long grass alongside a warren hidden beneath a pylon this week.

The farmer had cut a strip of grass for animal feed, but already it is growing back, giving cover for an active warren, several rabbits being visible as I drove past it along the lane. Once in the field, I approach slowly, until I was spotted, getting down to crawl a further twenty yards. Although I could still see rabbits going about their business, once down behind the scope all I could see was grass. Extending the bipod legs on the CZ452 by three inches helped, clearing the grass in front of me, but apart from a few sets of ears twitching, a shot was awkward as I had to rest on one elbow to raise my body for the scope.

A jogger trotting down the lane helped, scattering the rabbits back to safety beneath the pylon. This gave me the chance to crawl another twenty yards over the curve of the field. They began to come out again. I was able to lower the legs a couple of inches for a more comfortable view and had a perfect bead on a sitting rabbit, when the brown shape of another crossed my line of sight. The first one chased after it up the field. I followed them until they disappeared into longer grass. One of them bounded away, appearing briefly then hidden again. It stopped and sat up, head and ears barely visible. Adjusting the scope parallax beyond a hundred yards gave a clearer picture. I fired, it arched up clear and was gone in the grass.

The other rabbit now sat up, only its ears visible. Aiming between them and lower, I fired again. It vanished from sight.  Much closer, near the pylon, a rabbit ran into the cropped grass and I snapped off another shot. Missed it? It ran back to cover as another previously unseen to the left, got up and made toward the pylon, passing into the scope view. This shot made no mistake and the rabbit lay still. Four shots and three rabbits an a matter of seconds?

The sound of a car in the lane to my left cause me to look round. It was a police motorway traffic car, the lane serving the M25 as access for authorised vehicles. An officer was looking out at me. I gave him a thumbs up and he waved back, continuing slowly down the lane. He probably saw the action unfold. I am known to the police as having permission to shoot in the area and was thankful, that he had not decided to check my documents.

I waited another ten minutes and got up, walking toward the pylon. The third rabbit had been a yard from safety. Thirty yards on I found the second rabbit with a wound exiting the back of its neck. It had been flipped over backwards. A good shot at that range. The search now began for the first rabbit. I knew that it was over to the left and further still. The grass here was taller and thicker and I quartered the area up and down, but could not find it, despite it being the largest of the three. Once hit by the expanding Hornady 17 HMR bullet they rarely go far, but eventually I had to give up. It was a waste of a life and of good meat.

In the spring the pylon area had provided many meals, the grass was short and a hollow had provided cover for eighty yard shots, but now repopulated, only one side is accessable until haymaking takes place.

Riddled with burrows, a few more visits will be needed before the numbers are reduced, although the currently unshootable grass covered field beyond, is home to the largest warren I have ever seen, which is full of willing replacements.