Russel Webb breaks his duck on the cricket pitch with a brace of rabbits
Russel Webb grabs the chance to get on to his new permission
After miserable weather had ruined my first visit to the cricket pitch, I am prepared to admit that I did feel pretty fed up. I’d been looking forward to a weekend of shooting on my Dorset permissions, but unfortunately the weather looked like it might ruin my plans. I returned to my brother’s house, quite literally, soaked to the skin after being caught in an early morning downpour on my first visit to the cricket pitch. Fortunately, my new BSA Scorpion had remained in its gun slip, locked in the boot of my car, and that had saved it from getting a soaking, but other than that the morning had been a disaster.
Rather than spending the day reflecting on my bad fortune, I decided to make another early morning visit to the cricket pitch the next day. I need not have bothered setting the alarm on my phone because the sound of the rain hammering on the bedroom window woke me up at about 5am. It lasted all morning so I had a long lie in bed, followed by a very nice cooked breakfast, which helped to cheer me up. On the Sunday afternoon, my nephew, Oli, and I managed to fit in a quick, back garden plinking session with the Scorpion before the sky turned grey and the rain started again. Oli is a keen clay pigeon shooter, but I know he was very impressed by the accuracy of my Scorpion/Airmax combo, so perhaps I might be able to tempt him away from his shotguns in the future.
Back to work
Monday morning arrived far too quickly and it was time to return home and get ready for my late shift at work. I had intended to have a leisurely breakfast and then leave Dorset once the rush-hour traffic had calmed down, but an unexpected break in the almost continuous bad weather gave me the opportunity to go back to the cricket pitch for a quick rabbit control session before I started the journey home.
As I drove into the cricket ground, there were plenty of rabbits on the pitch and the spoil heap at the back of the pavilion, so I needed to work out a plan of action. There was no cover that
“an unexpected break in the almost continuous bad weather gave me the opportunity to go back to the cricket pitch”
would let me get close to the rabbits in the middle of the cricket pitch, so I decided to concentrate on the ones near the spoil heap. My rangefinder told me that the nearest rabbit was eighty metres away, so I needed to stalk about 55 metres up the hedgerow to get into a position where I could take a safe and humane shot. This was going to be a challenge because my stalking route would take me up a gravel driveway and the sound of my footsteps might alert the rabbit, or alternatively, I could stay close to the hedge, but be amongst the thistles and stinging nettles. I decided to keep as close to hedge as possible, and only use the gravel driveway to avoid the worst of the thistles and stinging nettles.
My stalking route proved challenging, to say the least, and on a number of uncomfortable occasions, the thistles penetrated the thin, poly-cotton trousers I was wearing. It didn’t help matters that just as I reached my firing position the rabbit darted into the hedge and disappeared from view. This was more than a little disappointing, but I knew that the stalking route I had chosen would be challenging.
Fortunately, I was now in an ideal position to use the cricket pavilion as cover for my approach to the rabbits on the pitch, and I began slowly and carefully to make my way along by the side of the building. The rangefinder told me that the nearest rabbit was 53 metres away, so I slowly got into the prone position and waited for the rabbit to come within 30 metres. I must have spent about five minutes watching the rabbit through my rangefinder, but the nearest it got to me was 43 metres, which is not close enough for me to be confident that my shot would deliver a humane kill, so I reluctantly gave up and made my way back toward the car. It had been a very frustrating morning and now to make matters worse, for the first time in two days, the sun was out and shining brightly.
Glass half full
Whenever possible, I always try to look at life from the ‘glass half full’ point of view, and as the sun was on my back I knew it would be shining into the eyes of the rabbits on the pitch. I decided
“As I lay on the ground behind the advertising hoarding, with the warm sun on my back, a rabbit ran across the pitch toward me”
to use this to my advantage and have a final attempt to thin out their numbers before I had to leave for the journey home. My plan this time was to use one of the advertising hoardings that surround the cricket pitch as cover, and shoot any rabbits that ventured close enough. With my other rifles, I shoot off a bipod when prone, but because the BSA Scorpion is on loan, I haven’t been able to fit studs to it, so I used my rucksack as a rest for the rifle. This is something I’d read about on numerous Internet hunting forums and I’d wanted to try it for a while; I just hoped it would deliver good results as when I use my trusty Deben bipod. (www.deben.com)
As I lay on the ground behind the advertising hoarding, with the warm sun on my back, a rabbit ran across the pitch toward me and began feeding on the lush grass about 15 metres away. I released the safety on the Scorpion, squeezed the trigger, and after a few kicks of its back legs the rabbit rolled over quite dead. A wave of relief flooded through me as I made my first kill on a new permission with the Scorpion; after all the bad weather, the long journey and false starts, I had finally started to make some progress. The accuracy of the Scorpion, which had impressed me when I zeroed it on the range at Pete’s Airgun Farm, had been effortlessly repeated in the real world of pest control.
About 20 minutes later, another rabbit was swiftly despatched by the Scorpion/Airmax combo, but then I very reluctantly had to pack up and start the long journey home.
My rucksack did provide a stable rest for my rifle, but it only really worked well when I stuffed it full with my fleece jacket, so unless you want to carry the extra weight of a jacket in your rucksack, my advice would be to invest in a good-quality bipod from a reputable supplier like Deben or Harris. It is possible to buy cheap bipods from Internet auction sites, but my experience of these is that they are very poor quality, plus they have the potential to compromise the accuracy of your rifle, and so should be avoided at all costs. I will tell you more about the progress I making with the Scorpion/Airmax combo next month.
“About 20 minutes later another rabbit was swiftly despatched by the Scorpion/ Airmax combo”
Below: Everybody who holds the Scorpion loves it
Background: Not a bad place for a little hunting, eh? Left: There was rabbit damage everywhere Below : I was determined not to leave empty handed this time
Right: Using my bag as a rest paid off Left: I used the clubhouse to hide my approach Right: Only two but at least I had a score on the board Below: This rifle and scope pairing is fantastic