Countrymans Diary

Diary 2

Why do I hunt.   One of the many things I get asked is why I hunt? Normally followed by that’s cruel and barbaric. My normal reply is that we have hunted since our evolution that’s what made us in to Homo sapiens in the first place the need for meat in our diet. We climbed down from the trees to supplement our diet and it started there, it’s a primal urge to go out and pit our skills against nature, for an example, take the lowly rabbit, (Oryctolagus cuniculus) its Latin translation simply means “rabbit form a tunnel.” These small fluffy animals were introduced by the romans around 100BC from Spain. Being served as a delicacy item for meals. For the garrison, these rabbits where kept in walled areas and looked after by the warrener. The current UK population is estimated around 45 million rabbits that’s nearly one to every person alive. We as air rifle shooters have to get within a distance to be able to shoot them humanly, going for a head shot. Normally around the 30 yard mark as any more you will be firing a tiny piece of lead alloy that’s only a couple of mm wide into the unknown. So we have an animal that’s has survived through thousands of years. using its life skills and wit, it has a sense of smell nearly as good as a dog hearing like a hawk as the saying goes and feet that can feel ground vibrations form around 60 yards away. But not brilliant eye sight. They can see clearly too around 50 yards, but can see movement at 100.so to sum up the lowly rabbit, 100 yards for movement, ground vibrations at 60 yards. And can hear the echo from a pin drop at 200 yards. And people say their poor defenceless animals. wish I could do all that. The cruel bit may sound odd, but if I can beat all those senses and get to 30 yards or less to the rabbit I then have an option to end its life. It goes through my mind before I pull the trigger every time. Is it big enough? is it doing any harm? Will the land owner mind me leaving one rabbit extra on their land they have asked me to control? But I am a hunter, the provider the gather. Nearly all of my kills go to the table for food whether it is mine or somebody else’s. Its averaged that 4 rabbits can eat as much grass as a sheep in 24 hours. That’s a lot and that’s the grass the farmer is growing for his livestock to feed them to make them the right weight to go to market to feed his family, so controlling them on grassland is a must. But what about other places, take the tree plantations these have anywhere between 20 to 100 thousand pounds of trees in them if rabbit’s get in there they eat the tops of young trees and ring the bark off others killing or deforming the tree. Then we have old buildings and landmarks the rabbits are undermining and train lines and roads. So there is a need to control their numbers they were never meant to be here and have to be controlled. The saying of breeding like rabbits is very true, in a recent study it was estimated that a single doe “girl rabbit” can start breeding as young as 4 months. Can have 6 kits in a litter and up to 6 litters a year, that’s 36 rabbits plus mum and dad in a year. It was said in the report that if nothing killed mum she could produce nearly a million rabbits from consecutive litters breeding to add up to a million rabbits in her life time. So am I a cruel barbaric person? No. iam a process of evolutions ladder. That use nature’s larder to fill my own. And that is why I hunt. And why it’s not cruel.    

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