December rabbits fall to the Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto.

December 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm

In December I try to get round to my various shooting permissions for a chat with the owners and to confirm my shooting rights for another season, taking a rifle, but not expecting to see much to shoot, due to frosts, floods, or snow. This year in the south of England daffodils are flowering and the grass is still growing, while the North suffer all of the above, a visit to the local equestrian centre this week being bathed in warming winter sunshine.

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Rounding a corner, the sight of half a dozen rabbits feeding at the edge of the wood took me by surprise and I stepped back behind the cover of a fence to plan my next move. They were about eighty yards away, too far for a safe shot with the .22 Magtech, but a stout fence post stood directly between me and them, enough cover for a slow walk forward. Once at the post, the range was down to 60 yards and I rested the rifle for a shot, but the low sun was shining across the lense of the scope, glaring out the sight picture. Lifting my hand to shield the sun was enough scare the rabbits, as one by one they hopped back into the brambles, but an individual paused long enough for the trigger to be squeezed, knocking it down.

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Reaching the young buck, I was happy to see the result, a perfect head shot, having aimed just below the ears with a 50 yard zero, the bullet had dropped about an inch. I had spent time earlier in the year setting up the sights and was confident that the bullet would go where expected.

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Entering the wood with the magnification on the scope down to x4, I was ready for my next target, as I approached the area of the fleeing rabbits, stopping every few yards to survey the ground ahead. A movement to my left and a rabbit trotted out into the bright sunlight. It stopped, then dropped, as I followed it’s track with the scope and fired.

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Number two, probably from the first group. I waited, but no more appeared so steadily made my way down the path, pigeons bursting out of the trees above as I progressed. Oh for a shotgun right now. Due to the four legged residents on this 80 acre equine site, even my Magtech was vetted for sound by the owner, a shot gun would be guaranteed to scare the horses, so no deal.

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Having shot this wood for about ten years, certain areas are bankers and the clearing ahead proved it’s worth again with the sight of a feeding rabbit 50 yards away. Head down, with it’s back to me, I got down prone with the rifle resting on my bag, waiting for the shot, the scope back to maximum. It moved a foot to the left and crumpled from another head shot.

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Three rabbits in the bag from the first 100 yards of wood, again probably one of those seen earlier, enough to dent the population trend for a while. Passing out of the wood and following one of the rides around the perimeter, there were no more signs of my quarry, although a muntjac deer scurried across my path, flushing a cock pheasant into the open, both off limits to me.

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I turned a corner to reveal another hot spot, where in summer there is ample cover, today an 80 yard no-man’s land opens up across the edge of a field to a warren in the far hedge. There were two big rabbits sitting out, but I needed to get closer to stand a chance and edged forward to rest the rifle on a fence post, spooking one of them back into the hedge, while the other turned to follow, sitting bolt upright. The fence post was not too stable, but I took the shot anyway, aiming high on the head, expecting the 40 grain bullet to drop into the chest. I missed, firing again as it moved forward, then again following it into the bushes. Focussing my eyes on the spot, I walked round to look for a dead rabbit in the undergrowth, but no sign. All three had missed. More haste, less speed.

Looking further along the ride, more rabbits were out on the other side of a sunken lane, which bisects the hedge and I picked my way through this hedge to the parallel ride, approaching unseen. Dropping into the sunken lane I was able to peer through the bushes to see three rabbits only twenty yards away and belly crawled up the slope pushing the shooting bag ahead of me. Resting on the bag, scope mag to x3, the cross hairs settled on the nearest and pop, number four was in the bag.

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This last one was a big doe, twice the weight of the smallest buck, which when skinned and cleaned barely fitted in my bag, making the walk back a bit of a slog. The owners were happy to confirm another season of shooting, agreeing that numbers were down again, the rides being free of rabbit burrows, although a badger set was now spilling out onto a track through the woods. Glad to say, that is not my problem.