Air Gunner - - Ed's Welcome -

About four years ago, a ter­ri­bly wet spring seemed to re­duce dra­mat­i­cally the usual bumper crop of young rab­bits that I’d see around my per­mis­sions dur­ing that sea­son, and later the same year, I noted a huge num­ber of rab­bits suf­fer­ing from myx­o­mato­sis which dec­i­mated the re­main­ing pop­u­la­tion. In the years that fol­lowed, I se­cretly wished to see the num­bers re­cover, hop­ing for a nat­u­ral sur­plus that I could har­vest as meat for the ta­ble, but no such luck. In ar­eas where I used to see 30 or 40 in a field at any time, I’d be lucky to see one, and trav­el­ling around the es­tate at night would reveal just one or two, here and there, in the car head­lights. The con­trast was shock­ing, and for me, quite sad­den­ing. The hum­ble rab­bit has been the main­stay of Bri­tish air­gun hunt­ing ever since I was a kid and some­thing I felt I could al­ways rely on for sport and food. I asked Air Gun­ner read­ers about the de­crease and learned that my sit­u­a­tion wasn’t at all un­com­mon, and like me, many of you had stopped shoot­ing them. If the crop dam­age they were do­ing was so small, the pres­sure to re­duce their num­bers went away. The good news is that this spring I’m be­gin­ning to see more rab­bits, so per­haps they’re re­cov­er­ing at last. I’m re­luc­tant to shoot them un­less they be­gin to cause dam­age, but just yes­ter­day the es­tate man­ager told me that the gar­den of the big house is be­gin­ning to suf­fer, so it might just be time to take a few to pro­tect the lawns and bor­ders. It will also be a treat for me to taste some proper wild rab­bit again af­ter sev­eral years of go­ing with­out. How­ever, I will only take enough to keep the gar­dener happy and re­spect­fully leave my old ad­ver­saries in rel­a­tive peace un­til the pop­u­la­tion fully re­cov­ers. Ed


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