ED­DIE JONES

Ed­die Jones is on a recce in a sum­mer wood

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Ed­die ‘ only went for a walk’ with his ri­fle, but couldn’t pass up the op­por­tu­nity of a fine buck rab­bit

This month’s ad­ven­ture started when I de­cided to go for a walk around one of my per­mis­sions. I of­ten go for a walk with­out the ri­fle, just to get a feel for which pests are on the ground and where I am likely to en­counter them. Ob­ser­va­tion and plan­ning are two of the most im­por­tant as­pects of a suc­cess­ful hunt, in my opin­ion. You’ll save wasted time by not wan­der­ing around when you could be more ef­fi­cient and shoot­ing in pro­duc­tive areas, and you’ll see if any­thing has changed if you haven’t vis­ited for a while. Many trees and shrubs be­come over­grown and these could be good areas for stalk­ing up to your shoot­ing po­si­tions. Any­thing that you can do to help your­self to achieve a suc­cess­ful hunt can only max­imise your quarry shot. I in­tended to visit the ground just to have a walk around, but I couldn’t help my­self and so went into the ri­fle cup­board and picked up the Air Arms TDR to take with me.

I wasn’t on a hunt, and it didn’t mat­ter if I didn’t shoot any­thing, but I knew I would be out for a good walk so I didn’t want to carry a heavy gun around. You can walk all day with this lovely lit­tle ri­fle and not even no­tice that you’re car­ry­ing it, and the area that I was walk­ing is mainly wood­land, so the TDR wouldn’t be too long to get caught up in over­grown branches. I have taken the TDR with me on many oc­ca­sions, and it has never fal­tered once; it comes up to the cheek eas­ily, and the point abil­ity is sec­ond to none. I al­ways take the cam­era on these walks too, be­cause you never know when that pic­ture of a life­time might just present it­self, although I am still wait­ing.

Buzzing

I ar­rived at the ground at around 2pm, the sun was high and very warm and there was no way I was wear­ing a jacket to walk around in the heat, and I wasn’t wor­ried about a shot, so I set­tled for a T-Shirt. The ma­jor­ity of this ground is wood­land and any­thing could show up for a shot, but I wasn’t stalk­ing, so if I did see any­thing it would be luck. When I reached an area that usu­ally pro­duces, though, I might just slow up and take a sneaky look around a cor­ner.

The first wood was buzzing with birdlife. It al­ways amazes me be­cause when I first ac­quired this ground you would be lucky to see a black­bird be­cause of the num­ber of grey squir­rels in the woods. They were dec­i­mat­ing the birds’ eggs and chicks, and it seemed like a no- go area for the birds. The floor of the woods were over­grown too, and that made it a real task to get near any squir­rels, but work­ing with the landowner soon got that prob­lem un­der con­trol as he cleared large areas of bram­bles in the wood,

and cop­piced a lot of the trees. This made for a thriv­ing wood­land; the ferns and blue­bells grew once again, so more in­sects started to visit, and this meant that the birds came back. It took a good cou­ple of years to get the wood­land to what it is to­day, and the squir­rels are now man­aged prop­erly so it won’t go back to be­ing a jun­gle.

I could see rab­bits in the wood too, so I didn’t have to sit for hours wait­ing for them to come out to feed, and I could stalk the war­rens and have the ones that were sit­ting out. This wood such a joy to walk around, even with­out a ri­fle, there is so much wildlife to en­joy, but I just wish the lit­tle red squir­rel was the one run­ning through the trees, in­stead of the grey.

I had been walk­ing for a good hour when I no­ticed a rab­bit hop­ping through some ferns. It had gone past an old build­ing that once sat against a bank; now it is all but gone, and trees and net­tles sur­round what is left, but this gives me a good place to creep up to, and slowly but surely, I walked right up against the old rock. Slowly, I turned to look to­ward where the rab­bit had hopped too, and there it was, no more than 20 yards away. It was sit­ting with its back against some net­tles as I lifted the TDR and found it in the Hawke scope. The rab­bit was un­aware of me sight­ing its head in my scope’s cross, and within a cou­ple of sec­onds it lay still on its side. The pel­let had gone true, a per­fect head­shot from short range.

Plan­ning

As I headed over to pick up the rab­bit, I could see runs through the net­tles lead­ing to a nice new war­ren on the other side. From where I was stand­ing, I counted five holes freshly dug out and I knew that there would be more rab­bits in there, so I set out to find the best van­tage point for fu­ture ref­er­ence.

I had man­aged to find a lovely, flat grassy area where I could lie down and shoot off a bi­pod, if nec­es­sary. I’d be a lit­tle el­e­vated so get­ting a sight of all the holes wouldn’t be a prob­lem, and I’d need to be still be­cause the back­drop didn’t of­fer much shadow or con­ceal­ment. I took test shots with the cam­era of me ly­ing down, just to see how the quarry might spot me, and tak­ing pic­tures might seem a bit over the top to you, but I wasn’t wast­ing shoot­ing time, and it was all part of the plan­ning process for fu­ture hunts.

I had now crossed a field and was just about to head into the wood when I no­ticed a rab­bit feed­ing against the fence line. I’d got plenty cover from trees in front, so I kept one good tree be­tween me and the rab­bit, headed off to­ward it and man­aged to get to my cho­sen spot un­seen. I leaned at the side of a tree, es­ti­mated the rab­bit to be around 30 yards away and was as steady as I could ever be, so I lined up the rab­bit’s head with the cross and sent the .177 pel­let to­wards my tar­get. The rab­bit was hit; it leapt in the air and then lay kick­ing for a cou­ple of sec­onds. It was a big buck, one of those that you dread skin­ning and dress­ing, but it was go­ing in the freezer re­gard­less. I hate shoot­ing any­thing if it can’t be pro­cessed for some­thing.

Flash

I’d walked for a good few hours and man­aged to get another rab­bit on my way through, and even man­aged to get a nice cam­era shot of a young’un. It wasn’t both­ered in the slight­est that I was only five yards away; it was busy clean­ing it­self, so I had the op­por­tu­nity to get a few pic­tures, although I did scare it off when I put the flash on.

Well, I hope I’ve given you some ideas to make sure you get the most from your shoots. Yes, I do have dis­as­ters, like ev­ery­one else, but na­ture can frus­trate us and we all shoot like a to­tal id­iots some­times, for rea­sons I can never work out. Also, if we can work with landown­ers to give our wildlife a bet­ter home, then what can be more re­ward­ing than that?

“It was a big buck, one of those that you dread skin­ning and dress­ing, but it was go­ing in the freezer re­gard­less”

A big old root made the per­fect rest

This one sat still for the cam­era... un­til I used the flash

I wasn’t plan­ning to hunt so I didn’t wear cam­ou­flage

I only went for a walk, but the op­por­tu­nity was too good to miss

The cheek piece looks un­usual but is set at the ideal height for me

My TDR has a lovely wal­nut stock

I like the un­usual, quirky looks

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