First Blood to the R10!
Ifinished off last month’s piece with the news that my old landlord, Martin, had been in touch with me and had promised to introduce me to a new permission of his that he didn’t really have time to deal with. Well, true to his word, Martin took me to said permission and I now have somewhere to shoot all of my own.
The place in question is a stately home situated just five miles from where I live, so it’s very convenient. Martin had explained that there were quite a few rabbits on the grounds of the property – about three acres – but when we arrived and took a good walk around, there was little sign of rabbit life. There were very few scrapings, no visible signs of a warren and very few droppings on the ground. It turned out that a professional pest controller had been called in some weeks previously and had
“the number of pigeons that came in to roost was astronomical”
all but eradicated the rabbits!
I wasn’t too disheartened though, because during our recce it became quite clear that there was a serious pigeon problem, too. There were feathers all over the place underneath most of the trees, which suggested to me that this area was prime roosting territory, and as we sat on a stone wall chatting into darkness, the number of pigeons that came in to roost was astronomical. I’d never seen so many, anywhere that I’d shot before.
MUNTJAC AND RABBITS
During the drive home, Martin told me that he’d pick me up the following evening for an hour’s shooting at the estate. He’d already put up a high chair in one of the trees, and he planned to remove a muntjac or two, which had been wandering into the grounds from the local fields and eating all the owner’s roses.
I was well up for that, as you can imagine, and although I wasn’t expecting to see any rabbits, it would make great practice for me to dig myself into the undergrowth and lie there silent for an hour or two, scoping out the grounds whilst Martin sat in his tree seat.
The following evening was perfect, with cloudy skies and a light breeze blowing directly down the field where Martin had planned to sit it out, and whilst Martin climbed into his chair, I dug myself into some overhanging foliage behind him and sat there patiently.
Within ten minutes I spotted a couple of large rabbits moving in from my right. They were too far for me to take a shot, about 100 yards away, but Martin slowly raised his rifle and dropped one of them without fuss. When we’d finished our shoot, he explained that he was going to leave them as fox bait, and it certainly confirmed that his rifle was perfectly zeroed for that all-important shot on the muntjac.
Half an hour passed, and then I saw a muntjac doe wander out of the brush. Martin left it and waited for a further five minutes, when a buck popped its head out of the undergrowth and proceeded to wander right in front of Martin’s waiting rifle. I saw it all unfold right in front of me, and with one clean shot the muntjac was down. The light was fading fast, and signalled the end of that particular evening’s hunt. I didn’t mind that I hadn’t taken a shot, because I really hadn’t expected to. It was just nice to be there and get a feel for the place.
UNLUCKY OR WHAT?
It was a week later when I called the estate owner to see if I could pop over for a couple of hours on the pigeons. The weather was perfect and I was getting very excited. However, I rang and rang but couldn’t get through. I decided to take a drive over to see if anyone was at home, and I arrived to find the huge iron gates closed and locked. I called Martin, and he informed me that the owners had gone away on holiday for a few days – I was totally gutted. Martin could hear in my voice that I was disappointed, so suggested that I pop over to the old house that we’d rented from him, where he was working on a fence.
“There are plenty of pigeons over here, Dave,” said Martin, as I was getting back into my car with a frown on my face. “Come over here and have a walk around. I’m here for another couple of hours.”
I didn’t need asking twice. At least I would be able to have a walk around with my new rifle, and I might even be able to make my first kill with it.
When I arrived, Martin was there in the garden, saw in hand. He directed me to the field next to his house and pointed to a row of trees.
“If you wedge yourself into that lot, you should get a couple of shots off as the pigeons keep popping down to feed amongst the stubble in the field opposite,” he said.
So that’s what I did. I got myself into position and waited. I waited, and waited, but only two pigeons came down from the trees into the field, and both times I couldn’t take a clean shot through the branches. I wondered if the pigeons could see me, because I didn’t have my full camo kit on – it was 26 degrees and I was already melting. I waited for half an hour to no
avail, and as the sun got lower in the sky the temperature began to drop, so I walked back to my car and donned my jacket and gloves.
When I got back to the tree line I felt quite comfortable, and kept telling myself that I was going to make my first kill. I’d only been standing there for a few minutes when I saw a large pigeon crash land into the tree to my right. It was a good 30 yards away, with miles of open fields behind it, so I slowly raised my rifle and let the crosshairs settle on the pigeon’s head. As I squeezed the trigger I could feel my heart racing, and as soon as the pellet left the barrel I knew it was a great shot. ‘Thwack’ came the sound of pellet on bone, and with two flaps of its wings the pigeon fell out of the tree to the ground directly below – it was dead instantly.
Normally, I would just leave the pigeon there if it had fallen with its back facing upwards, but it had landed upside down, so I ran over to pick it up. A quick inspection showed that it was indeed a clean shot and I walked back to the treeline with a huge smile on my face.
All too soon, Martin wandered over and informed me that he had to go, so I would have to leave too. I didn’t mind, it had been an exciting session and I’d christened my new rifle. On the walk back to the cars, Martin told me that he had some proper rabbit shooting that he would take me to in a couple of week’s time, which made it all the more rewarding. I can’t wait to try my R10 out on the rabbits, and next month I hope to be able to report back with some more exciting hunting news.I
Dave had got himself into position at the end of the treeline, but the pigeons could see him.
First blood for Dave and his new BSA R10.
It was 25 yards to the crops where the pigeons kept coming in to feed.
One crash-landing was soon followed by another.