The Tale of the Game Pie.
As a professional pest controller and land manager I get called out on some very interesting and often educational contracts, I use a multitude of guns and rifle and indeed air rifles for all my work, or as I like to call it using the correct hammer to hit the correct nail, I very rarely use poisons either much preferring traditional trapping methods etc, for I believe the use of chemicals and poisons has such a damaging and often permanent effect on the environment and mother nature and all who live under her wing, no matter from the crawling ant to the mighty oak tree, and the humble rabbit and all his friends.
Treating mother nature with total respect was how I was brought up as a countryman of the old school, so the use of poisons are a very rare method for me, although I do use some poisons very rarely as a last resort when all other traditional methods have been exhausted, under very strict methods probably over strict on my part as I take best practice to a whole new level.
Treating mother nature with total respect is something I pride myself on and how I teach the young sports or novice, something I am very disappointed and disgusted with at the moment are some of my (and I use the term very loosely) fellow field sportsmen, I have constantly seen on social media and YouTube and the like in modern times a total disrespect not only for mother nature but also for their fellow countrymen and field sports in general, all we work for to present what we do as a humane and ethical past time or profession is completely wiped away and showing us in a monstrous light as animal murderers and killers of the lowest order.
I urge all my fellow countrymen to outcast these people for they bring you down to their wretched ghastly level for if you can treat an animal in such a way then you can treat a human the same, as countrymen and hunters you should stand for ethical and humane hunting with conservation being at your core belief and doing the greater good of finding the balance in nature.
I was sickened to the core when sent a video and pictures from another fine countryman who was also fuming and sickened by what he had seen, the video in question was of a fellow in The North shooting rabbits with a 243 at 400 yards, now the shot itself was a very good shot indeed and to achieve such a shot takes a great deal of skill and knowledge for mastering this craft, that said why shoot a humble bunny with a high velocity VMAX round from over 400 yards totally disrespecting your quarry and destroying the meat, I will tell you why!!!
He has the “my cock is bigger than your cock attitude”. And that has no place in field sports.
My disgust knows no bounds to these very poor excuses for human beings, I had to contact him, I explained I was not saying it was not a good shot but you are destroying animals in this case rabbits with high velocity calibers in the name of pest control and indeed field sports, you are not only giving the anti’s, more ammunition to attack us but also alienating the general public that will only go to further legislation against us, also a total lack of respect for your quarry etc, I could write a book about this conversation etc, his words were it’s not illegal to blow up rabbits so I will carry on, GRRRR my parting words were arguing with a fool only proves there are two and I left feeling more disgusted than I started the conversation feeling.
For me the true and proper way to deal with your quarry is with respect, like I said use the right size hammer to hit the right size nail in the hole, by this I mean I would not use a 243 to shoot a rabbit, I would use a .22 rimfire or 17hmr for longer distance with a head shot only, or an air rifle either sub 12ft lb or fac rated one, you see there are more than enough calibers to use to deal with said quarry, for me the real skill is stalking in as close as you can using time learnt traditional field craft so the quarry has no clue you are there, then after you have taken the shot using the adequate marksmanship qualities for a humane kill as in one clean and deadly head shot, then you take a breath knowing you have earned each and every shot, on every stalk you took, now that’s skill not blowing your quarry up, now you have some fine fresh wild meat for the table, if you have too much by this you have more rabbits etc. Than you need then find a home for it, friends with ferrets dogs birds of prey all good outlets, or why not swap it with pensioners I often get baked lovely bread ginger cakes, and you name it from pies to puddings. The old barter system is alive and well in my house.
I don’t want to go on any more about how disgusted to my core I am how some of my fellow human beings are treating animal etc, you know I could quite easily become an anti after seeing that sort of treatment if I were not properly educated from boyhood by real countrymen of the old school with conservation at the core of my training, as I am typing this my Uncle Dave has come in and saw the pictures and video etc, Uncle Dave being one of my childhood countrymen teachers has just come in the office, I cannot write exactly what he said here but his disgust runs deeper than mine now and is awaiting a chat with this fellow, his words of what does he want to do next call in the RAF for an air strike and start the blitz off on those rabbits etc are the milder words, I have had to calm him down with a cider and gurt big slice of game pie so I can get back to this article later.
Let’s get out in the field and enjoy what I do the most as the more I write on the rabbit subject the more I feel disgusted, I am in charge of 7 deer herds with the ethical control of several species at its heart, keeping a healthy strong herd is vital for the eco system said areas, I will tell you of a couple of Roe Buck stalks I had recently carried out.
Her lady ship on this South Somerset North Devon estate called me up to the big house to discuss the Roe Buck cull for this year, she really knows her stuff and knows every inch of this estate and the animals on it, we talked over the maps of the estate and reports from the tenant farmers and estate staff etc, reports of deer damage to crops were higher in some areas than in recent years, our thought on this was due to a housing estate that had been built and what with dog walkers etc they have pushed those deer further over, indeed I was already thinking much the same as I had been watching the deer numbers for several months now working out the cull and finishing the roe doe cull.
First week of the Roe Buck season I had orders to take two roe buck out, now one was a basic simple little roe buck nothing special he was never going to be a big deer so a cull buck as we call them, the other not so, he was a high silver and one I suggested to leave for later as the cull season goes on, her ladyship was adamant he had to come out, I found out why, she was getting a lot of deer damage in the houses ornamental garden so she watched and stalked the deer to find out who the culprit was, as it turns it was this large roe buck attacking her gardens etc, her exact words in her well-spoken strong voice was ROBERT THAT ROE BUCK WILL HAVE TO GO!!! So as I always I said yes Mam.
The under keeper joined me to gain some experience in stalking larger game etc, the large roe buck I saw dosing in the long grass after feeding on the ornamental garden that morning, I glassed him from around 250 yards out and pondered how I was going to stalk him, I had to get round on the wind so he would not scent me, I also had to get passed two doe grazing close to him and a multitude of other wildlife including a group of rabbits etc.
I whispered to the under keeper stay here watch my every move with your binoculars and learn how I do it, also watch the animals as I stalk in see how they react see how I become one with nature, I began the stalk not knowing exactly where I could take the shot as I had to get around a headland and a long running hedgerow along the woodland I had to stalk along, it was a very hot early morning, I had to literally stalk inch by inch 200 plus yards to get to where I thought I could get a humane shot, all this past other deer grazing rabbits and as it turned out a lot of black birds the alarms of the countryside.
Inch by inch I stalked my heart beating from my chest all my senses fully alive and in tune with mother nature herself, I could feel my way my feet feeling every blade of grass, stone or stick, from the corner of my eye I saw a male black bird I froze like a statue until he had gone about his business, I stalked on as a wood pigeon above my head flopped out of the tree dropping down on the field to feed again inch by inch I stalked on with sweat beading out all over me, 100 yards in and I freeze again as 2 rabbits start having a bust up these bucks literally tearing strips off each other, they both run into my legs still fighting as I am frozen like a statue one of them taking a rest lent against my boot, all this happening in almost complete silence with me as an onlooker at one with mother nature, they bolt off chasing each other I take a moment to compose myself and reflect on the memory now made, I stalk onwards right past a doe asleep in the long grass I freeze as she raises her head in a sleepy way, she licks the air sniffing scenting to see what’s around her then lowers her head and dozes off, I stalk past as stealthily as a fox stalking a rabbit with my eye on the goal.
Here I am 50 yards away from the Roe Buck sat dosing in the long grass on the hilly meadow, with no clear shot so no choice I have to stalk even closer, now really calling on every ounce of my field craft and knowledge, I had no choice I had to stalk in to 20 yards to get a clear safe shot, I don’t normally do head shots much preferring a heart and lung shot to the engine room but alas this buck only presented a head shot, if I tried to make him stand he would bolt so no choice a head shot, I steadied my sticks and took careful aim, this is where you have to hold your nerve and be a surgeon with a precise shot almost on a 5p, I pushed the safety catch forward on my Browning 243 and squeezed off the shot, the Roe Buck fell with barely a twitch and I breathed a sigh of relief I was literally soaked to the skin with sweat as the adrenaline coursed through my veins.
The under keeper joined me in seconds for what had taken me over an hour to stalk took him less than 30 seconds to cover, his words were oh my god, seriously I was transfixed watching you and the wildlife it was like watching TV and I was transfixed, watching you was like watching a cheetah stalk a gazelle on the plains of Africa, he was so excited I sat down exhausted saying calm down boy and go retrieve Buck, the Roe Buck was a beauty and a shame to have taken him but her lady ship gave orders he had to come out,
We loaded him up on the quad bike and took him back to the game larder for processing etc, I headed out with the under keeper over to the other side of the estate as there was that small cull buck to come out, I stalked around to what I call the hill ground that led to the valley meadow knowing where this young buck hung around, I sent the young keeper off for a stalk on the headland to see if he could get onto a young roe buck I glassed, alas it was a long stalk but great knowledge to be gained, unknowingly to the young keeper he stalked right past several doe’s asleep in the long meadow glass, they stood up looked at him saw no danger walked round in a circle then lay back down for a snooze, the young keeper had no idea of any of this as I watched him from the gateway with my stalking binoculars, as he stalked back to telle me his tale I heard a noise I looked down a squirrel had literally ran up to me not noticing me and went about scratching his nuts. I laughed as he looked up at me with his jaw dropping, he hopped up on a fence post looking at me in disbelief the look on his face was priceless and the full story I will tell you over a cider at a game fair one day so ask me if you see me, the young keeper said was that a squirrel by your boot I laughed and said yes, he shook his head and said mucker I swear you are Dr Doolittle.
I laughed and said come on lad I am going to sit in my high seat you can go for a stalk around the hill grounds, blimey as I sat there in the high seat that squirrel joined me the look on his face was like are you following me around as we came eye to eye and he fell off my high seat, I burst into hysterics and got down as the light was getting to what I call the witching hour to a deer stalker, those that stalk a lot will know what I mean and those that don’t ahhh well you will only learn this with experience, I met the young keeper by the woodlands edge as he came stalking along, I said you take the low ground I will take the high ground, the Roe buck came out with about 20 mins of the stalk left, I stalked out a simple stalk right out on the hill and took him from 75 yards off the sticks with a perfect engine room shot, quad loaded her ladyships order filled duty done.
I did several rabbit hunts with air rifles and rim fire rifles that month too, I will do a whistle stop bit on that as this has turned into a long article, I headed out on a new contract, this agricultural contract was 100 acres but with a 1000 acres to have if I did a good job, I decided to use a sub 12ft lb Daystate Regal Huntsman with pcp air rifle in 22, I mounted the new Optisan scope from my ole Mucker Carl At Solware of Tamworth gun shop, I telle I stalked in as close as I could on these rabbits as the race horses were quite jumpy, I used this gun because it had the Hugget Moderator system on and is whisper quiet, This scope is awesome speak to Carl up at Solware for the one he sent me you can see a fly blink at a 100 yards, I bagged up on the rabbits and the horses never heard a sound.
The next contract I had to do was on a sports ground with a major rabbit problem, this place was huge with no cover so I opted for the 17hmr and for a change I went traditional with a Night Master Venom green pill scope mounted lamp on, I was going to use the NiteSite Eagle Rtec but was more in the mood to try the old school method, I am glad I did as I really enjoyed myself pitting myself against the weary quarry, I must admit I do enjoy traditional lamping and again I did very well on the rabbits,
The Last contract I did that month was on a vintage farming museum that also kept rare breed cattle and sheep, the report was the rabbits are eating more grass than the livestock, location dictated it was an fac air rifle job one for the distance of shot but also the close proximity of vintage farming machinery, I must admit the Air Arms Galahad was the gun for the job on this one, the day was so hot, I picked some field mushrooms and shot a wood pigeon on a water trough almost straight away, a couple of hours passed and the rabbits started to come out.
I bagged two nice fresh bunnies in no time, then a call came I had to go as a fox was trapped in a hen house so will go back to that job, I had some lovely ingredients for a rabbit and pigeon pie with a wild field mushroom gravy, I gotta admit that was an awesome pie well-earned and enjoyed by me and Uncle Dave over a cider or three, I hope you have enjoyed this long rambling story and sorry to go on a bit at the start but it’s something I feel passionately about, until the next time proper job muckers.
By The Ole Hedge Creeper
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