Indian summer rabbit hunt

October 16, 2016 at 11:48 pm

The autumnal equinox was well past, but the indian summer was causing me to regret the sweater under my shooting jacket, as I trudged the rides of the equestrian centre in search of rabbits, the sun blasting out from behind clouds in an otherwise clear blue sky, causing me to overheat.


Walking through the wood offered only one fleeting flashing white tail, as a rabbit dashed across the path from cover on my right without the expected pause, before it hopped to safety among the nettles. Too quick for a rifle and too close for a shotgun, I consoled myself that it was a fat healthy adult, which was clear of the myxomatosis I’d seen on visits to other permissions lately.

Where ever I looked were squirrels collecting up the harvest of acorns and chestnuts, being tempted to knock over a few for a pie, but know from experience, that once distracted by squirrels, an unseen fat rabbit will bound away from a clear shot, when disturbed.

Patrolling all the usual rabbit hideouts without success, I committed to the long walk along the perimeter fence, where once, every hundred yards would have offered a rabbit, or two, but the reality of today is that these warrens are no longer occupied. Welcome news for the owner and safety for his riders, but slim pickings for me. Still the exercise is good, in clean fresh air, something I reminded myself of, as sweat trickled beneath my cap into an eye.


At last, brown shapes meant rabbits along the fence line, feeding on the new shoots of grass, pushing through from the recent cut. Over a hundred yards away, I crouched low, using a slight rise in the ride as cover, then belly crawled within forty yards, with the Magtech .22, resting the rifle on my bag for a prone shot. Sighting on the nearest and largest animal, I watched it raise it’s ears in alarm, aware of danger, then body pressed to the ground, it sped across the ride into the undergrowth. Other heads were raised and the cross hairs fell on the next in line. Pop, it dropped from a head shot, the others gone in an instant.


Collecting the young buck, it was paunched and bagged before moving on toward a small wood on the far boundary, seeing another small group of rabbits in the field at it’s edge, in range of the HMR, but not the .22 in my hands. This time I had no cover, observing them melt back into the wood one by one.


Reaching the wood, I could hear a couple of rabbits casually making their way through the undergrowth, unaware of my presence and I waited against a tree for sight of them. The rustling continued then stopped and could just make them out beyond a bush about twenty yards from the clearing. They faded from view. After ten minutes I was convinced that they were gone and picked up my bag to go, spooking one into the open, so close that I had to aim high to allow for the scope height on the rifle. Despite the blurred image, the bullet hit head on, tumbling the rabbit.



Smaller than the first, but worth taking, I bagged it up and carried on through the wood without further success, disturbing a red coated muntjac deer from it’s slumber, before coming back out into bright sunshine. With two rabbits weighing me down, I decided to cut back across the paddocks toward the stables, taking a new route alongside a copse in the hope of more quarry, but again no bunnies. Calling it a day, I was soon back in the real world, the van stuck in the rush hour traffic.