This month’s adventure started when I decided to go for a walk around one of my permissions. I often go for a walk without the rifle just to get a feel for what pests are on the ground and where I am likely to encounter them. Observation and Planning are two of the most important aspects of a successful hunt in my opinion, not only will you save wasted time wandering around when you could be more efficient shooting in more productive areas but you will also see if any things have changed on the grounds if you did not visit for a while. Many trees and shrubs get over grown and these could be where your good areas are for stalking up to your shooting positions. Anything that you can do to help gain a successful hunt can only maximise your quarry shot. As I said earlier, I was going to the ground just to have a walk around but I could not help myself and so I went into the rifle cupboard and picked up the Air Arms TDR to take with me.
The reason for taking this lovely little rifle was that you could walk all day and not even notice that you are carrying it. I was not on a hunt so it did not matter if I shot anything, but I knew I would be out for a good walk and I did not want to carry a heavy gun around all day.
The area that I was walking around is mainly woodland so the TDR would not be too long to get caught up in branches if it got a little overgrown. On the many occasions that I have taken the TDR with me it has never faltered once, the ease that it comes up to the cheek and the point ability is second to none. It is nice to take the camera on these walks too as you never know when that picture of a lifetime might just present itself, although I am still waiting.
I arrived at the ground at around 2pm; the sun was high and very warm. The majority of this ground is woodland, in here anything can show up for a shot. I was not stalking so if I did see anything it would be luck, or when I got to an area that usually produces I might just slow up and take a sneaky look around a corner. The first wood was buzzing with birdlife; it amazes me that when I first acquired this ground you would be lucky to see a blackbird. The amount of Grey Squirrels in the woods were decimating the birds eggs and chicks and it seemed like a no go area for the birds. The floor of the woods were over grown too so making it a real task to get near any Squirrels. Working with the land owner soon got that problem under control, he cleared large areas of brambles in the wood and coppiced a lot of the trees. This made for a thriving woodland, the ferns and bluebells grew once again more insects started to visit this meant the birds came back. It took a good couple of years to really get the woodland to what it is today and with the Squirrels managed properly it will not go back to how it was.
There was another good part to this story, I could also see rabbits in the wood too, I did not have to sit for hours waiting for them to come out and feed, and I could stalk the warrens and have the ones that were sitting out. This is what makes this wood such a joy to walk around even without a rifle, there is so much wildlife to enjoy; I just wish the little Red Squirrel was the one running through the trees instead of the Grey. Well I had been walking for a good hour when I noticed a rabbit hopping through some ferns, it had gone past an old building that once sat against a bank, now it is all but gone and trees and nettles surround what is left but this gives me a good place to creep up too. Slowly but surely I walked right up against the old rock, I gently turned to look towards where the rabbit had hopped too. There no more than 20 yards it was sitting against some nettles. I slowly lifted the TDR and found the rabbit in the Hawke scope, the rabbit was unaware of me sighting its head in my scopes cross and in within a couple of seconds it lay still on its side. The pellet had gone true, a perfect headshot from short range.
I headed over to pick the rabbit up; I could see runs through the nettles leading to a nice new warren the other side. I counted 5 holes freshly dug out from where I was standing; I knew there would be more rabbits in here so I set out to find the best vantage point for future reference. I had managed to find a lovely flat grassy area where I could lie down and shoot off a bi-pod if necessary, I would be a little elevated so getting a sight of all the holes would not be a problem. I would however need to be still here as the backdrop does not offer much shadow or concealment but I should be all right.
I had now crossed a field and was just about to head into the wood when I noticed a rabbit feeding against the fence line. I had got plenty cover from trees in front so keeping one good tree between me and the rabbit I headed off towards it. I had managed to get to my chosen spot unseen; leaning at the side of a tree I could estimate the rabbit to be around 30 yards away. I was as steady as I could ever be, lining the rabbits head with the cross I sent the .177 pellet towards my target. The rabbit was hit nice, it leapt in the air then lay kicking for a couple of second. It was a big buck, one of those that you dread skinning and dressing, it was going in the freezer regardless, I hate shooting anything if it can’t be processed for something.
I had completed my walk a good few hours later; I had manage d to get another rabbit on my way through and even managed to get a nice shot of a young rabbit with the camera. It was not bothered in the slightest that I was only 5 yards away; it was busy cleaning itself so I had to get a few pictures. I did scare it off when I put the flash on though for a shot.
Well, I hope I have given you some insight in what I like to do to make sure I get the most from my shoots. Yes, I do have disasters like everyone else but nature can frustrate us and we all shoot like a total idiot on some shoots for reasons I can never work out. Also, if I can work with land owners to give our wildlife a better home too then what can be more rewarding than that.