Magtech 7022 shines in the winter sun

February 10, 2015 at 5:45 pm

A bright afternoon tempted me out, removing the .22 Magtech semi auto rifle from the gun cabinet for the first time this year and taking me back to the equestrian centre I’d visited just before Christmas, where three big rabbits had filled my game bag.

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Weeks of storms and snow had left the ground sodden, making it heavy going as I trudged to my first rabbit hot spot, an uneven patch of ground pockmarked by burrows, bits of blue glazed plates and broken pottery jars, revealed by the burrowers, evidence of past use as a Victorian rubbish dump. Settling down at the base of an ivy clad oak tree, I lay prone with the rifle rested on my bag and set the scope zoom to the centre burrows 40 yards away, expecting one of the occupiers to hop out into the sunshine at any moment. I was in the shade and the north easterly breeze was slowly chilling my bones. Waiting for rabbits to emerge, is an investment in time and after fifteen minutes without a show, I was ready to move on, but the thought that one could pop up at any time kept me there longer.

The sound of clattering wings drew my eye skyward, to see several wood pigeons gliding in to settle high in my tree. I was obviously masked from their keen eyes by the ivy reaching into the upper branches and did a slow motion roll onto my back, raising the Magtech vertical to find a target. At this point I expected an explosion of wings, as I was spotted, but the cross hairs found the illuminated outline of a fat woodie and I gently applied pressure to the trigger. The hollow “knock” of bullet on feather, a couple of flaps and the pigeon was spinning to the ground, to hit with a thump only feet away, it’s brethren scattering to pastures new.

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Giving up on the rabbits, I broke cover to de-breast the plump bird, turning it on it’s back, pulling the skin away from the breast to reveal the dark rich meat, which was soon cleanly removed by following the breast bone with my knife, the two steaks wrapped and bagged. Moving further into the wood, the low sun was casting long shadows among the tree trunks, warming the air a few more degrees, encouraging snow drops to come out above the leaf litter.

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Turning off the track into the sun, a rustle through the leaves to my right, brought the rifle to my shoulder, as the deep russet coat of a fox became visible through the undergrowth and crossed my path ten yards away. Fox are off limits on this land and I am reluctant to shoot them at any time, so was happy to watch it glide effortlessly on it’s way, it’s full brush of a tail extending straight out behind it, disappearing among the rhododendrons. Maybe he’d got to my rabbit warren first, hence the no-show.

Rounding a corner, I was unaware of a rabbit sitting twenty yards away, perfectly camouflaged, until it moved and turned to slip unmolested into a tangle of dead brambles. I’d just broken a rule of hunting. Assume there is something around every corner and lead with your rifle raised and ready to fire. The spring like afternoon had dulled my senses and I’d paid the price. Fifty yards on the path takes another turn and I was ready to see a rabbit, or two basking on the grassy bank, pushing the rifle ahead round a holly bush to see four grazing pigeons, hitting one square between the shoulders, before they could flinch.

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With breast number two in the bag, I was eager to add a rabbit, or another pigeon, but it didn’t happen, a wait beneath another sitty tree not being rewarded and the only other rabbit seen, made a quick getaway before I’d got within 80 yards. I thought that the early sunshine would have brought them out in numbers, feeding, or gathering nesting materials, but that’s how it goes sometimes, so it was back to the van before the evening rush hour snarl across town began.