20:10 BUILDING THE BAG
AFTER SLIPPING THE shot rabbit into his backpack, Mat continues to stalk around the paddocks. The tactics remain the same and he works his way slowly around the field margins, frequently pausing to scan for any signs of feeding rabbits up ahead.
As the light starts to fade, more rabbits begin to emerge above ground ready for their night-time grass binge. The increased activity brings more shooting opportunities and it isn’t long before Mat manages to sneak within range of another rabbit.
Not all of the evening’s stalks will go to plan, and plenty of rabbits manage to dash safely to cover before Mat is close enough for a shot. That’s the way it goes with stalking, and the challenge is what makes it so exciting – it certainly tests your fieldcraft to the limits.
By the time the evening draws to a close, Mat has managed to account for three rabbits. That is not a large bag compared with the amount of damage he has witnessed, but Mat expects to make bigger tallies on future visits now that he has earmarked a few busylooking areas that should lend themselves well to ambush tactics.
The rabbits that Mat has shot are three-quarters grown and perfect for the pot. Mat concludes the evening by paunching them in a quiet corner of a paddock. This first stage of game prep is best done in the field, and you can usually rely on foxes and badgers to clear up the mess before daybreak.