Bolting bunnies

01_574060_97324555_resultA concerned farmer suffering from rabbit problems calls in the cavalry in the form of Pete Carr and Stuart Wilson, accompanied by William the ferret master and his able charges

It isn’t often these days that I get the opportunity to enjoy a full day’s ferreting. However last February a plea from a local farmer saw me engage young William, who is the beast master when it comes to working ferrets, and another friend Stuart Wilson to help with the shooting. As always, fitting in a day at short notice was something of a stressful episode but eventually we got our collective diaries to conform.

Unfortunately the day turned out to be a tad windier than expected but as we were already committed there was nothing to do but keep calm and carry on. In fairness windy conditions can help the sport if one is bolting the rabbits to gun; the wind quite often disperses the sound and therefore disturbs the subterranean conies far less than it would in still conditions. Leaving the van behind we help William with his ferreting paraphernalia and head to the first spinney he’d earmarked as a potential bunny mine.

After surveying the holes with bomb disposal caution he points out my position to stand inside the spinney and Stuart’s out in the pasture to cover two sides of the square plot. Almost immediately Stuart signals that there is a rabbit in the hedge bottom and after a nod of approval he opens up our account with the first coney. It turns out to be suffering from mixy but at least it has had a far less painful exit from this world than it would have had through disease.

“After surveying the holes with bomb disposal caution, he pointed out my position”

Locating a spinney with potential, it’s a waiting game for the conies to surface

Locating a spinney with potential, it’s a waiting game for the conies to surface

William enters his most experienced polecat first and thumping underground tells of action below. Anticipation heightens as the rumbling keeps us partly in touch with what’s going on beneath. Then all goes quiet and Will is forced to use his ferret finder to locate the animal. He is less than pleased because he believes the rabbit has been killed below and the ferret will lay up after a feed. Thankfully his concerns prove unfounded as the ferret resurfaces looking somewhat confused at losing the coney.

A white ferret is entered and the polecat also resumes duties, the idea being two ferrets will force the rabbits to bolt quickly rather than giving the ferrets the run around. This was a good move and a rabbit soon bolts out from within the spinney. A snap shot from yours truly kills him instantly, and I just get the chance to reload before another bolts from the same hole and I repeat the exercise successfully. Then it appears that the ferrets really have killed below and become stuck or decided on slumber. As Will digs down, guided by his technology, another rabbit bolts outside the spinney and Stuart gets in on the action.

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