The life of a Precision Rabbit Hunter

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The life of a Precision Rabbit Hunter

Christian is our resident field hunter, he’s very kindly written a few words about where his passion for hunting rabbits takes him - 

As this is my first blog introductions are in order. I’m Christian, a precision rifle shooter and avid rabbit hunter. Along with my other Team Jackal team mates, I compete at precision rifle matches across the UK and I have my hunting grounds in North Yorkshire.

Before discovering target sports and the world of firearms, I started out as a rabbit hunter, using my BSA Ultra SE .22 PCP airgun. Rabbit hunting is my first love and will always remain my favourite pastime!

I soon discovered that to have more success on the rabbits I’d need something with further reach than my >12ft lb air rifle could offer, so I applied for my FAC (Firearms Certificate) and bought a .22lr. Rimfire rifle. That first gun was a Ruger 10/22 and it served me adequately, however, as my interest in the sport of precision rifle grew, I bought something more refined: a Bergara B14R. The B14R rides in a Hunting Match Rifle (HMR) stock and has a Rem700 footprint, making it an almost exact clone of my precision rifle match gun, a Bergara HMR 6.5 creedmoor. Now when I hunt, I’m also practising for precision rifle.

In further blogs I’ll talk more about the sport of precision rifle. For now though, let’s focus on rabbit hunting!

What to take on a rabbit stalk – my gear

I like to stalk rabbits. That is, I prefer to walk around my permission, keeping down wind and the sun behind me, using the natural terrain and other features on the land to conceal my approach to a rabbit so that I can take a clean shot at as close a range as I can manage. That’s important for an ethical kill and is a style of hunting that I believe best develops my skills and I have developed my kit accordingly. Here’s a breakdown:
The rifle set up
I use a Bergara B14R in .22lr caliber. My usual scope (not shown in the picture) is an IOR Recon, chosen because it has a large magnification range (4-28), the reticle in in the first focal plane and it has dialable turrets and excellent glass for low light shots (I often hunt before the sun is fully up). It is the exact same scope as I have on my precision rifle gun (important to me because familiarity builds competence). I use a DPT Moderator to keep the already quiet .22lr round quieter still (no sense scaring off any other rabbits in the area) and I always keep a bipod on the forend, even if just so I can put the rifle down and keep it out of the dirt. If I have to take a shot standing, I use shooting sticks for stability. I also carry a small, flat bean bag, which is handy if I want to rest the rifle on a fence post or gate for a shot. I carry the rifle on a sling and I keep a Leatherman MUT multitool on my belt, just in case I need to tighten a screw on the scope mount or deal with another problem that may arise with my rifle or kit. 

Spotting my quarry

Despite having a high magnification scope on the top of my rifle I do not use it for finding rabbits! You should only point a rifle at something you intend to destroy so scanning a field or hedgerow with a loaded gun is not safe behaviour and safety always comes first when firearms are involved! Instead, I use a good set of 8x42 Diamondback binoculars from Vortex Optics. They are inexpensive, robust (yet come with the best life time warranty and accidental damage insurance cover you will ever encounter) and have great glass for closer distance work. Perfect for rabbits. Binoculars are ideal for scanning an area due to their wide field of view (FoV). Then, once I’ve spotted a rabbit, I use a basic range finder to advise what elevation I need to dial or hold over on my scope for the shot. During warmer months I carry my bino’s and range finder on a chest harness. When it’s colder out and I have my army surplus or waterproof smock on I’ll stuff bino’s and range finder in a big pocket.

Rabbit down
Once the shot has been taken there is now a dead rabbit to deal with. I keep this bit simple. Empty the rabbit’s bladder and then place it in a plastic bag and in to my day pack ready to be dressed when I return home. Sometimes, I’ll process the rabbit in the field, and so I always carry a sharp, fixed blade knife. My Plan B knife from a collaboration between Jackal Firearms and York Knife is perfect for the task. Delicate enough for removing innards and skin, but with enough heft that it’ll also cut through bone. Carrying a fixed blade knife when out in the wilderness is actually a very sensible thing to do (where the law allows) regardless of the activity you are involved in… but more about that at a later time.


Comfort and safety

I won’t get in to clothing now, suffice to say, I dress for the season or weather and always with respect to the terrain. A good set of waterproofs, sturdy boots and suitable gloves (I always wear gloves, even in summer) will always be on my gear list. Wooley hat in the cold, baseball caps for the warmer months.

Last on my kit list but without a doubt the most important gear I carry is my trauma kit and phone. I won’t go in to detail now, that’ll be coming in my next blog, but I’ll close by saying this: do not go out hunting with a firearm unless you have something to deal with a firearm injury and you have a means of calling for help or rescuing yourself. I’m lucky that I always have a mobile signal so calling for help should be a given, however, where I hunt, medical help is about an hour away, therefore, as a minimum, I carry a torniquet and a trauma gauze and bandage.

In my next blog we will look in detail at my safety / medical kit. In the meantime, do you have any questions or comments about my rabbit stalking gear? Why not follow me on Instagram @guerrier_weg and drop me a message there.

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