Si and Davy take turns to shoot or drive, but there’s only one person on gate duty!
Afew weeks ago, Davy and I met up at his house and then travelled 40 minutes north-east to one of his rabbit permissions in East Hanney. I’d shot this permission a couple of times and it’s one that I really enjoy because if you have a 4 x 4 you can drive around it, instead of walking.
On arrival, Davy informed the farmer and his wife that we were on site and that we would be conducting vermin control for them until the dark hours and we were given a gate key to get into the cattle-grazing fields. We then set about zeroing my wife’s Rat Works Reaper .177, custom BSA Ultra SE that we were intending to use and share for the night. Ensuring that we had a solid backstop, we used a white-lighted torch and lased out 41 metres (45 yards) using my Hawke laser rangefinder 400 (LRF), before placing Davy’s metal target holder and target card against it.
Lying on a shooting mat, with the rifle rested on a shooting cushion and the scope set on x 10 magnification, Davy ensured that he could put a .177 JSB Heavy pellet into the centre of an 8mm bullseye, by giving 1.5 mil-dots of holdover. By doing it this way, we were 100% sure that our left and right windage adjustment would be smack, bang-on for the longer range shots, and due to our extensive near and far calibration technique, we knew that at 30 metres (33 yards) the rifle would be shooting true to the scope’s cross hair.
Once the rifle was zeroed, I set about fitting a NiteSite Wolf RTEK unit to the Reaper as well as a small night-vision LRF for which I’d made a new mounting bracket. After fitting everything and levelling up the scope’s cross hairs in the NiteSite’s screen, we turned on the laser. We tested them together by looking again at our zero card, to ensure that the distance displayed on the small LRF was the same as the one we’d received from the Hawke LRF earlier. True to the quality of the equipment we were using, the NiteSite’s picture was crisp and bright and the range to the target was showing as 41 metres – job’s a good’un!
To start off, Davy suggested that I should shoot first whilst he drove his 4 x 4, then later we would swap around. At first, I thought that Davy was just being kind by hosting me on his permission, but in hindsight, I now realise that he’d been pretty crafty because I ended up getting out each time a gate needed opening and closing.
After closing the first gate and getting back in the vehicle, I pointed the Reaper/NiteSite combo out of the passenger window, then cocked and applied the safety catch. We hadn’t gone more than 30 metres into the first field when I turned on the NV unit and LRF, and rabbit eyes lit up
along a boundary of bramble bushes between two of the farmer’s fields.
With just 17 metres (18 yards) showing on the LRF, it was simply a case of placing the cross hair on the first rabbit’s brain and releasing the trigger’s second stage. It rolled over on its side, dead, from an accurate, humane shot.
I picked up the rabbit and we moved off again as I turned on the units and spotted a close-range rabbit in the longer grass. I didn’t use the laser because I knew from experience that it was really close, so I placed the cross hair on the rabbit’s head. All four mil-dots were within the sight picture so I knew that this would be a very clean kill as I squeezed the Reaper’s trigger. The rabbit went over, again with a well-placed shot, and as I paced the rabbit back to the car, Davy estimated that it had been no more than 15 yards away.
My final shot of the night was at a rabbit sitting next to some long weeds. The laser showed 30 metres (33 yards), so I knew that this rabbit was on my primary zero and I only required my cross hair again as my aim point. I released the trigger, we heard the sound of lead on skull, and watched the rabbit roll over, perfectly dispatched.
It was time for the change around, and I became the driver. I talked Davy through the aim points and set off looking for his first shot of the night. After about five minutes of me driving, and stalling Davy’s wagon twice due to its sensitive clutch, we stopped as he spotted his first target at 28 metres (30 yards). Davy steadied his shot as I watched it in the NiteSite’s screen, and then he sent the JSB missile winging toward the rabbit’s brain, knocking it over with total precision.
After picking up the rabbit and scanning the field, Davy spotted a second rabbit at a lased 24 metres. Tracking the rabbit in the scope as it hopped right to left, Davy waited for his shot and then released the Reaper’s excellent trigger. Over went his quarry another one in the bag.
We followed on for the next hour, and after a 10-minute chocolate, Monster drink, and Facebook update break, Davy managed to shoot another three rabbits cleanly, between 15 and 36 yards, whilst I drove. Yes, you guessed it correctly, Davy decided that he wanted to drive out of the field and home, and so I was put back on gate duties again.
Above: For any hunting to work, you need total faith in your hardware.
Above: The Beeza was soon zeroed to the lads' satisfaction - and the action could begin.
Above: 'Open gates? Not me, mate!'
Above: Not a bad haul for a drive-along night-hunting session.
Above: Perfectly placed and dropped with hardly a twitch.