For the last few months we have seen quite a lot of kit that I have been using to help gain an advantage over my quarry. Although some of it is expensive there is a lot of bargain kit to be had and will do just as good a job. When you shoot at night nothing will beat night vision equipment, the rabbits have no clue that we are there and the ones that do still have little chance if they think squatting in the grass will save them. Not everyone can afford such luxuries like the Pulsar and Yukon dedicated units, but the add on unit that Sniperscope supplied was a great unit for the price and did a great job.
I am going right back to basics, no I do not mean a 6 volt acid battery leaking all over my jacket and a hand held lamp. These days we have a lot of powerful torches on the market for not a lot of money, we get different coloured pills for the torches now so you could have one torch that can be changed to a different color in minutes without losing power trying to get through filters of old. Although modern lamps still use filters for the bigger units, the main equipment we tend to use is all built in one tidy package. Over the last few years I have used anything from a T20 torch right up to a T67, Led Lenser torches too, but anything in between these sizes are perfect for rabbiting at night. Most new torches have different power setting as standard, also we have the small touch pad that we can stick to our stocks to switch on the torch, these are great for using the torch when in range of the rabbit as you do not get the click of the switch that is usually associated with the back button on the torch. It is surprising how many rabbits are lost due to the noise of the button spooking them.
Tonight I am using a torch that I have had for a good 12 months now, as I do a lot of night vision shooting I needed a powerful IR torch but I also wanted a torch that I could use normally. The Deben F900 torch offered me just that. When I was asked to field test the torch I jumped at the chance, not only because I was getting it on a long term loan but because I could get the torch in a kit with a red, white, blue and a green pill together. This was just the thing I was after, you also get mounts for 1inch and 30mm scopes so fitting it is not an issue. What I really liked about this torch was the ability to turn down the brightness of the beam via a dimmer switch that is incorporated into the torch. The dimmer switch made it so versatile I could also use it for ratting sessions where a less powerful light is needed. The only drawback that I found was the price that it was on sale for at the time but when you look at what you are getting for the money and you add that all up, it is not that expensive after all. I use this torch for every type of night shooting I do now and have since bought another as a backup.
Now the kit is out of the way let’s just recap on how I used it.
The first session was with the Yukon and pulsar dedicated units. When using this kit it gives you the option of lying in wait of the rabbits coming out to feed or walking around and shooting the rifle as you would a day scope. The only drawback when using this kit is you really do need to use a night vision or thermal spotter. There is no point shining a lamp at the rabbit to locate it first as this just defeats the object of Night vision. That is when things become expensive but you will not beat how efficient this way is at controlling rabbits.
Next was the Add on kit from Sniperscope, this can also be used the same way as above but does become very arm heavy if you’re walking towards a rabbit looking through the screen, it is better to wait in certain places for rabbits to come to you to make it efficient and comfortable. If you do want to walk around with it then definitely take some shooting sticks.
Finally the torch, this is my firm favorite way of shooting rabbits if I go for just a walk around permission without having to do a job on the numbers. There is nothing more satisfying than getting in between a rabbit and making it squat so you can get close enough for a shot. I have been asked so many times how I get close enough with a torch as when those persons have gone out, most rabbits have ran off before they have got close enough. The way I do it is probably not the way everyone gets results but I have lamped this way for years and its nearly worked all the time, unless I miss one and then you will very rarely get it to sit again as it knows what is coming.
First rule before any lamping session is to know your ground; you need to know where the warrens are because the rabbits will be out in the fields in front of them. Identify any obstacles in the area, as when night-time comes these obstacles are dangers and accidents waiting to happen. Try and go on a moonless night with a bit of wind as this will help you go undetected and when walking towards the rabbit the wind will hide any noises. When you start off in search of your rabbit only shine out into the field, don’t be tempted to have a look up the fence line as the rabbits that are close to the fence will only run off, I scan out into the field and slightly in the direction of where my next scan is going to be. If I see any eye shine just in front I will keep the torch on it but try to get in line with it before heading out into the field.
When you spot your rabbit out in the field the rabbit will either run as soon as the light hits or will crouch down and try to hide. Hopefully the latter will happen as you are stopping it from getting to its warren. If it squats do not turn the torch off and try to get closer, the beam is what is making it squat so keep it on it. When I am walking towards the rabbit I take steady slow paces, I try to keep the main beam just in front of it. My theory is, it does not want to go into the brightest part of the beam so it should sit tight. On occasions the rabbit will turn away from the beam but just get the beam back in front of it and it should squat back down. When you think you are in range gently raise the rifle to your shoulder and only when you are ready to shoot will you put the main beam back on it. I have found most times that a rabbit will not run, if you are close enough to shoot it then it has committed itself to just think it cannot be seen.
Take your time now, your adrenalin will be in overdrive, you have watched that rabbit all the way into the field, you have outwitted it and now you are about to put all that hard work down to the pull of the trigger.
Hopefully you have got your shot off and hit true, if that is the case head back to the fence line and start off again. In time you will work out what works best for you, nothing is set in stone and every session will throw up surprises and pitfalls. If things are not going to plan do not give up, the more you try the better it will get.