It had been a couple of months since my last hunt. You know how it is, family, work and other commitments taking up all the spare time. However, it gets to a point where you feel you just need to get away from it all and you somehow manage to make the time to enjoy some hunting.
In this instance I needed to visit someone not far from one of the farms I hunt on so it was just the excuse I was looking for to book a couple of days away.
The weather was looking a little suspect and after a quick call to the farmer I discovered that they had been getting a fair amount of rain lately and that the paddocks were a touch on the wet side. Having had the Ute bogged there on more than one occasion, I made sure that I had all my recovery gear packed.
I had a few hours of work to do in the morning so I decided to head off on Thursday afternoon which worked out perfectly as I arrived just on dark and I wasted no time in hooking up the spotlight. I had arranged to meet a friend there that I hadn’t seen for a while and we were both eager to get some shooting done!
For this trip I was using my Remington .788 in .222 and I had my old CZ model 2E tucked away as a backup rifle if needed. Dave was using his Vanguard .243 and his backup rifle was an 8mm 1903 Portuguese Mauser! Considering we were after Rabbits and Foxes I’d say we were a little over gunned, but hey, it’s all good fun so why not!
We didn’t get far through the gate before we spotted our first few Rabbits. It was my turn to shoot first so I rested the Remington over the door and lined up on the only Rabbit that hadn’t disappeared into the blackberries. I squeezed the trigger and had a perfect sight picture. As the shot rang out I saw the bunny take the 50gr Hornady through the chest and it was all over in a fraction of a second.
When you haven’t been shooting for a while that first shot feels like magic! It’s something that only shooters will ever understand. It’s kind of like the projectile travelling down the barrel and over 3000 feet per second somehow manages to take all the stress of daily life with it. Whatever it is though, it sure feels good.
After several more Rabbits were taken it was obvious that the bunnies had been doing well for themselves over the last few seasons. I hadn’t seen this many before on this particular property so it was good to be doing the farmer a favour and getting rid of a few.
After I missed a couple of easy shots on some Foxes, I decided that I had hogged the passenger seat for long enough and it was now Dave’s turn to do some shooting. The .243 certainly made itself known but after a while we decided to put a bit more of a challenge into things and we dug out the old iron sighted 8mm Mauser.
To my surprise the old Mauser started racking up a few kills and not wanting to miss out on all the fun I had to have a go. My reputation of being a crap shot with open sight was verified and I missed everything that I pointed it at! Of course as soon as I handed it back to Dave he immediately took another Rabbit with it.
By the end of the night we had taken quite a few Rabbits but I had failed to bag a Fox with a nice winter coat. There was plenty of Foxes around but none were fully grown and we couldn’t stay out all night looking for more as Dave had to work in the morning. I decided to roll out the swag on the farm and get out first thing in the morning for another hunt.
Well the early morning hunt didn’t quite happen! To be honest it was just too bloody cold to get out of the sleeping bag. I figured I was having a couple of days off so a sleep in was well within my rights. As it turned out, by the time I got up, had breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee it was approaching 10am. I had well and truly missed the prime morning time but I was having fun just being out in the bush and relaxing!
This particular farm has a few Goats on it and I had brought along an esky just in case I managed to head shoot one for the freezer. You can find Goats out and about for most of the day so a walk around the farm could still prove rewarding. I slung the Remington over my shoulder and headed off down the hill.
I had only gone a few hundred meters when I picked up some movement in the grass. I couldn’t make it out at first but eventually a Fox showed itself in between the tussocks. He was only 40 meters away and he had no idea I was there. He was busy following a scent along the ground so he had his head down which gave me a chance to sit down and get a steady rest. Through the scope I could make out that he was in perfect condition and I placed an easy shot through the front of his chest. The projectile hit him hard and he flopped over and didn’t move a muscle! I love my .222 Remington!
He was a beautiful Fox with a lovely pelt and I was excited to get my first winter coat Fox for the year. Even though I didn’t see any Goats that morning I was extremely content with my Fox. The wind had picked up quite a bit and it was now time to head home. I know I say it every time but I’m going to say it again, I need to get out shooting more often!
I’ve just returned from the bush here in SA and its looking very good.
Lots of re-growth and the ground cover is doing extremely well.
Although it’s a little dry, a good rain will give things a good boost for another great season.
While all the flora and fauna is doing well, so are all the feral animals, one that seems to be doing well is the feral cat.
This is a concern as they are so destructive and an environmental night mare as the ultimate predator.
They have taken well to the last 18 months of above average conditions and are growing in numbers at an alarming rate.
Over the week we sighted over 20 feral cats, even during the day it wasn’t uncommon to spot one running across a track in front of us.
Unfortunately with the scrub so thick, we were unable to track them down.
Most were around rabbit warrens and also the odd cluster of feathers was found around the property, also this is what we only sighted driving along tacks, not what is out in the more remote areas where there is limited access.
The ones we did manage to dispose of were in very good condition with female to male ratio nearly 3 to 1.
Most we spotlighted would sit; while the wiser ones would give us one look and then pretty well disappear into the night.
Either way, we had done our bit for the environment!
On one of my favorite hunting properties we have an area we call the bunny block.
Not hard to guess why really as there is rabbits everywhere in this area and you can pick up a feed in no time at all of nice plump rabbits.
However over the last 18 months with the high rainfall we have had the grass has taken over these areas making it very hard to pick up any rabbits.
Usually a couple of hours and we have enough for what we want and sometimes the odd fox also dispatched but the Spear grass has really taken over the area, throw in some Onion weed and we have a real challenge on our hands.
Our last outing only produce a few rabbits, as we really struggled with some of the tracks completely overgrown.
Will, my son, was disappointed as he really enjoys knocking off rabbits with myBrno.22; in fact I struggle to get a shot in when he’s on the rabbits.
Usually the plan is to do a run around the paddocks and pick up what we can; usually a couple dozen keepers are easily taken.
We then check out another area that has a few foxes lurking around and then return to Bunny block to pick up a few more.
Once these are all dressed out its time to head back to camp with a few more taken along the way.
I guess one day when all the feed has been eaten down by the stock we will be able to return to the numbers we previously would take.