Byron Pace is joined by his brother, Darryl, for some coney control down on the farm
There is something quite special sharing a hunting trip, or even just a day out with the gun accompanied by close family. Having just returned from Skye with my parents after a week’s excellent sport with friends, it is certainly something I must make a concerted effort to do more of. It is these moments that stay with you, and I always feel that sharing those magical times make the memories of the hunt stronger and more vivid. In any case, we are probably all guilty of not putting enough time aside to share our passion with those close to us, whether that is hunting, fishing or anything else for that matter.
One such day last year would have melted into the hundreds of other culling rabbits if I hadn’t been joined by my brother. It was extra special because for the best part of seven months I hadn’t seen him, only able to speak on the odd occasion. He had been engaged on overseas patrols with the Royal Navy as clearance diver, taking him into the pirate-infested waters off the horn of Africa, amongst some other unsavoury places.
Thankful for the help to start making a dent in the explosion of rabbits on a new permission, it would also be a good opportunity to catch up properly with just the two of us. It’s amazing what stories come out when you are busy doing something else, and I find the quiet moments when hunting often produce some of the best. There is definitely something subconscious about sharing a hunt with someone that makes people open up – more than they would in normal circumstances. I have never been able to put my finger on exactly why that is, but I have seen it time and time again. Maybe it’s the unspoken bond of hunters, or maybe I just have an easy ear to unload on.
“It was the perfect instance where the humble .22LR proves itself supreme over the feisty but noisier .17HMR”
The particular farm we were making for was fairly new to me, and certainly appeared like it had been neglected for a number of years when it came to vermin control. Luckily for me, I was surrounded by estates and was already friendly with a number of the keepers, all of whom were of course doing their part to control the vermin population on their side of the fence. This 400-acre untamed nucleus wouldn’t have been aiding their efforts, and I was hopefully we could begin to make a difference.
The ground was to be run as a rough shoot amongst four friends and my dad, but part of the lease required us to control the rabbit population. Given that this was the first armed outing, it would be just as much a scouting mission as it was a culling endeavour.
Arriving mid-morning, the day was clear with a hint of wind from the west. It was already evident from the short drive through the farm that it had been a long time since the bunnies had been hit hard. I hadn’t seen such numbers for many years, and I was looking forward to getting stuck in.