On Sunday 11 July, while I was at a lurcher & terrier show in Cumbria, I received a phone call from a landowner, he'd bought some land 8 months ago, and was setting up a livery & stables. The main problem he had come across was the rabbits. They were digging scrapes in the fields, and grazing on his lawns.
Rabbit scrapes and buries can cause huge vet bills for horses, so he needed some way of getting rid of the pests. He got my Rabbit Hunter card from a friend, and gave me a call.
I visited the land on Wednesday 14 July, and as I drove down the drive, saw a huge rabbit grazing on the lawn. He casually hopped into the adjacent field, and then carried on grazing. I went to the house, and made my acquaintance with the owner.
I was showed around the 80 acre plot, and I counted 8 full grown rabbits as they ran for cover. They all ran for the same corner of the land, where a large Elder which was surrounded & overgrown with Stinging Nettles. The ideal place for a rabbit warren.
I said I'd try make it on Sunday, and was hopeful of making a huge dent in his rabbit numbers.
Sunday arrived, and I was eager to go. I phoned to say I'd be there in approx. 1/2 hour, then loaded the car with my
Falcon Raptor rifle,
Bandito, locator & collar, and my purse
nets. Lee came with me, and he'd borrowed the BSA Supersport again.
We arrived a little after 12:45pm, and started by ferreting a 2-holer on the lawn, the nets were placed, the collar was put on Bandito and she was entered into the hole. She went in & out of the 1st hole, so I put her to the 2nd, she went straight through to the 1st, and showed no more interest in the holes, so we collected the nets, and moved on in search of more holes.
We headed towards the pony school and found 3 holes in the rough that was next to it (where the sand was piled from the pony school). In the drinking trough was a tiny drowned rabbit, it had fallen in & couldn't get back out. I collected it for ferret food.
The nets were placed and Bandito was entered. she didn't stay in for long, and was soon wandering about on the surface again. No one was home.
There was a young lass riding her pony in the school, and she spotted a rabbit sat under the school's fence. I headed towards it with my rifle, and asked if she could go to the opposite corner for a minute. As I approached the rabbit, it ran along the boundary, and then stopped at approx. 35 yards from me. I raised the rifle, and scoped it. I couldn't see its head, so had to go for a chest shot.
I hit it and it ran into the next field, which was long grass. I never found the rabbit.
We searched the fields, found no more holes, and saw 2 rabbits, but they ran for the Elder before we got to scope them.
We decided to go ferreting under the Elder, and a quick inspection showed 8 or 9 holes. We crawled under the huge bush and started setting the nets. As we were working, we found more holes, so netted these too. 14 holes were netted, and I introduced Bandito. She was popping in & out of the holes, and then a rabbit bolted, unfortunately from a hole we had missed. It didn't head back into another hole, so we didn't back-net it.
After about 20 minutes of ferreting, I heard a crashing through the long Nettles, Bandito had put another up, this one headed out across the field, and went into the dry-stone wall. Under the nettle patch was riddled with holes & runs, showing it was a heavily used warren. A couple of the holes went under the wall, which had a tarmac road at the other side. As we ferreted our side, I saw a huge rabbit bolting up a banking in the field across the lane.
Unfortunately I don't have permission to hunt on that land, so he got
away Scot-free. Bandito & us were getting a bit fed up, she was hurriedly
working the warren, and not getting anything to show for her trouble.
After about 45 minutes of ferreting, we decided to call it a day.
A quick assessment of the land and I decided the best way to attack this
warren was to sit in ambush, and long net round the Nettles while ferreting.
I will return, and it will be a different story.