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

Air Gunner - - Contents -

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. (

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

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