I arrived on Friday night and after I had a very nice risotto prepared by Pete the farmer who is one hell of a cook I went for a look with the 17HMR, there was not much about on the side of the property I went to and soon came back empty handed getting a reasonably early night for what would hopefully be a big day of shooting on the Saturday.
Saturday morning saw me out mucking around with my Tikka T3 Varmint Stainless 223 Rem out to 365 yards on the steel gong we have set up which was a lot of fun and a great way to waste a heap of ammunition.
After lunch I went for a drive around to see what was about and I eventually settled on my favourite set of warrens ranging from 180-280yds. It was early afternoon and I was pleasantly surprised to see that rabbits were out and about which allowed for a session of varminting.
Setting the rifle up on bipods leaning over the bonnet of my car I pulled the trigger sending a 45gr hollow point projectile travelling 3600 feet per second striking the first rabbit of the afternoon with a resounding “THWOCK” at 180yds.
Soon after this I had hit two more on the same warren I then turned by sights to the far warren at 280 yds. It is amazing the difference 100yds can make and I learnt a valuable lesson here as I was using ballistics apps on my phone to gauge my hold over and wind drift. The one thing I learnt after many misses is that ballistics programs are only as good as the data that is entered in to them. I missed quite a few shots at this distance as even though I used the manufacturer data for the ammo I was shooting what was happening in real life did not reflect what the application was telling me.
After a bit of thought I strongly suspect the ammunition is not traveling as fast as it was advertised, I suspect the advertised figures were with a longer barrel than I was using. So next time I will be taking the chronograph and getting real life velocity figures and also shooting at different distances to verify what the ballistics program is saying.
Either way I eventually worked out what was going on and managed to make the longest shot of the day at 280yds.
Whilst I was scanning the warrens for anymore activity, I noticed an orange figure sitting just outside of a patch of blackberries that use to be a rabbit warren!
“That’s a bloody fox” I said to myself as I chambered another round. I fired and to my astonishment missed! Luckily for me this young fox was too silly to retreat back to the blackberries and only ran a few yards before I hit him in the neck and put the fox on the ground.
Shortly after I hit that fox I saw another young one and I then realised why that set of warrens was quiet! The foxes have moved into the blackberries and called it home!
I had a shot at this fox and missed again, I was not happy at all, as I hate missing foxes and worst of all he was smarter than his brother and ran straight back into the blackberries and didn’t come out again as I waited for him.
The afternoon session resulted in four rabbits and a fox. I wasn’t happy with my shooting or my rifles performance but I had learnt a lot that afternoon and would rectify the mistakes I made and has made me determined that I need to spend more time with this rifle learning how it performs at varying distances as it shoots great at 100yds but I have been slack and not done the shooting at different distances needed to really wring out the potential of this very accurate rifle.
After some steak for dinner and a quick clean up I set up the Savage 93R17 in 17HMR to go and find some more young foxes.
I returned the warrens that I was shooting at earlier that day and caught up again with the fox that I missed and nailed him with the 17gr Vmax round from Hornady.
After stopping for a quick photo with that one I was on my way to try and find more.
I was happy with the result so far.
The third fox I was lucky to see as I had already passed him but he was on the other side of a hill. He was only very small and not long out of he den but I was on a sheep farm and I couldn’t stop to consider how cute he was as it would only be a matter of months before he would turn into a lamb and native wildlife killer and he dropped on the spot when hit him in the chest with a small fragment exiting out his stomach.
To top off the night I shot a rabbit that was getting about in a tree run and that was the end of the trip.
It was great to get out there and burn through some rounds and eliminate some ferals from the farm.
I think it will be another month or so before the young ones start coming to the whistle judging by their size but I will be there ready to get more foxes as they become more interested in hunting.