Eddie Jones is on a recce in a summer wood
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.
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.
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.
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