Thu. Dec 7th, 2023

Field Sports Scotland

Hunting and Field Sports in Scotland

Late Spring, Early Summer Bunnies

One of my favourite times of year is when the “bunnies” start to show and it makes for some fun shooting and the time passes by quickly.  I shoot rabbits all year round but there are times when you see more rabbits and times you see less and it is those busy times I look for ward to the most. Spring time is always busy for me with the lambing and the foxing, and with the break between the deer seasons and the start of the warmer weather it is always a pleasure to get out but I do kind of neglect the rabbit control over these periods. One of my permissions is surrounded by pockets of ground that is full of warrens and no matter how many I shoot a year it is a constant battle to keep on top of them, not that I am complaining.   (daytime shooting bright sunlight using Yukon Photon 6.5 ) Helpful Paws It is not just I that loves the old rabbiting but I often have help from my dog Lana-lou, she really loves the excercise. Lana is my Black lab and not just my pet but also my shooting partner, I ask a lot from her, she is very good at finding deer after being shot but she is also very good at picking up rabbits and birds so a bit of a “jack of all trades”.   Tools of the trade  With any type of work the trick to success is the tools you use, I like using the .22lr for rabbiting, it gets the job done efficiently and accurately and most of all quietly with no hassle. I use a CZ455 .22lr equipped with a Yukon Photon 6.5×50 day/night vision scope or on occasion a CZ452 .22lr heavy barrel with Hawke scope. Both rifles are very accurate to 100yrds but zeroed at 50 metres. The ammo of choice is RWS HP Subsonic 40gr. The Yukon Photon I have on the 455 is an excellent piece of kit when doing any kind of rabbiting as it is very useful early to late evening allowing you to shoot well into the night and back into the morning allowing you to make as much impact on your rabbit control as possible. It is a Numbers Game With effective rabbit control you need to be getting the numbers. Shooting for recreational purposes for the “odd one” for the pot is not the aim of the game. Your job is to make as much of an impact on the numbers as quick as possible so you are able to show the landowner or farmer you are doing the job you are claiming to do.
53 shot 36 picked , good night on the bunnies
On a good night I can get up to and past the magic number of 50 using my set up and not worrying about “lamp shy” runners,  but most nights I average around 20. Last year alone I shot between my properties over 2000 rabbits and on my best night I shot 87. Most of what I pick is distributed either between my various bait stations or are given to a local wildlife park. A Gateway to Hunting Shooting rabbits is a great way to learn hunting and gives you a great insight into how to work “fieldcraft” to your advantage. Rabbiting allows you to push the boundaries out to the limits of your equipment, allowing you to learn distances and the effect of lighter bullets on smaller targets at distance thus increasing your effective range. As a stalker I use much of the same techniques I use in the field stalking deer as I do in rabbiting such as the use of cover and using the wind in your favour or working out holdovers when shooting at distance.
A friend of mines very first rabbit, head shot at 130yrds with my instruction
With the .22lr your effective range is far less than a centre fire rifle has. Zeroing a .22lr  rimfire at 50yrds is the same as zeroing the likes of a .243 or a .270 at 100yrds the only difference is the speed and the over all effective range. Like with the larger calibres you learn your limits with that calibre and you can work on pushing out your own limits. I personally have had rabbit kills out to 175yrds but most of my shots are between 25 and 130 yards with very good Accuracy and very little holdover. Rabbiting is definitely a great entry point to hunting and is also a perfect place to learn good skills in various areas with good effect. Another good thing about rabbiting is the availability of learning how to shoot in low light and night time safely using all the skills needed when foxing. Not many hunting disciplines allow for the opportunity to work in complete darkness. During the night time hours everything looks a lot different and you have to put a lot of faith in the technology that you use such as lamps and night vision equipment, the one main thing you learn is safety and calculation of distances which is very different during the day. In the end it is Worth It I still maintain the thought that rabbiting, night or day, is one of the most fun and challenging type of hunting you can get, Yes I admit there is not the same prestige as shooting as “Royal” Red Stag or a good “trophy” Roe Buck, but, it does have its own challenges and pride. I have taken many a friend out for their first rabbit shoot and they have been full of pride after their first kill. Rabbits always was and still is one of the best forms of shooting for all sorts of reasons and as long as there is rabbits there will always be a need for hunters to cull them.