• Back at the vehicle the bunnies were field dressed to feed ferrets.
    Back at the vehicle the bunnies were field dressed to feed ferrets.
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I'd been looking forward to Saturday all week. Now that it had finally arrived things weren't going as planned; my mate had just rung to say he couldn't come shooting as his brother- inlaw had had a major heart attack; the forecast was for a 36 km wind and I was now vacuuming the house for Julie.

Eventually I was off the chain and wasted little time getting to the property; stopping at the rusty old farm gate before lifting its heavy frame over the long summer grass and driving through. After closing the gate I idled in first gear toward the hill top as a couple of nervous rabbits crouched low beside the fence-line before bolting for a nearby row of Cyprus trees. Unfortunately the forecast was right for once as strong wind gusts caused the waist high summer grass to dance across the paddocks while the airgun was pressurised with pumped air.

With the slug gun's magazine full of pellets and the daypack upon my shoulders I headed down toward the hayshed where I'd seen several bunnies last week. It would be ideal in these conditions; both for me and the rabbits. The shelter would encourage the rabbits to rise from burrows and the rifles pellets to fly true toward them. Windswept footsteps came to an abrupt halt as I sighted a watchful rabbit beside a tuft of grass. The grass was shorter in this paddock that held the cattle so I was able to sit down and take a rest over my knees. Even at only 20 yards I allowed about 15 millimetres for wind drift and sent the pellet on its Saturday afternoon journey. A good solid hit was visually evident as his nerves released their grip and he lay still on the hillside. A dot of red between the rabbit's eye and ear indicated the pellets movement in the windy conditions.
 
A satisfied but careless stroll had me reaching the hayshed, sending two squatting rabbits into a hasty retreat from beneath the stock trailer. Bugger! A couple more steps and off went another. Annoyed with myself, I slowed down and looked carefully but no further rabbits sat amid the shade of the shed or trailer. It was nice to step out of that wind, as the daypack was unloaded and face net dropped back over my face I eased my head ever so slowly through the open doorway to the hayshed. Only 10 yards away a nice three quarter grown bunny sat at the mouth of his burrow in the shed. I snuck back for the camera and took a couple of photos before dropping him cleanly with the air rifle. To my surprise two more rabbits sat at the opposite end of the shed upon a warm bed of hay. Shooting prone over the bipod in the relative calm of the ideal shed conditions resulted in another bunny dropping with hardly a kick. The air rifle's report was magnified in volume within the corrugated confines of the hayshed and the third rabbit was beneath ground in a heartbeat. I left the rabbits to lay where they fell; not wanting to disturb the small hunting zone.

The lonely hayshed creaked and groaned beneath the strain of strong wind gusts while old disused saddles rested upon the hayshed wall. A blowfly buzzed the bunny that lay beside me whilst I lay still, watching and waiting for the movement of rabbits. Nothing! Time passed with tension and expectation, but still not a movement in the hayshed.

Back out the door I eased, barrel first followed eagerly by watchful eyes. Sitting beside the flat tyre of the stock trailer was a rabbit. Through the scope its dark brown eye showed me that he knew that danger was near and I clean missed! Puffs of dirt followed the bolting bunny's trail as I stood wondering how I muffed such an easy shot.

Around the hayshed rabbits ran at my approach while I made my way over to a dam wall that held several burrows. At least four rabbits could be seen as I crouched low with swaying heads of grass just below my chin, I eased closer. They sat watchful but not alarmed at my approach as I sat down beside a fence post and slid the barrel through. Taking aim at the easiest target which also happened to be sitting below its burrow, I fired. Thwack! The young kitten leapt about with a solid and clean headshot. If he'd been sitting above the burrow mouth he probably would have been lost down the tunnel even though he was stone dead on impact. I headed back to the hayshed; there should be something out by now!

Although nothing moved around the shed's perimeter a single rabbit sat beside the steel frame inside as I took his photo and then dropped him with the airgun. In the confined space and corrugated walls the air rifle was in its element. Several round hay bales sat to the right of the shed and although I kept a watchful eye around them no rabbits appeared amongst them. Instead they were all appearing at the opposite end where numerous tunnels weaved beneath sheets of iron covered with hay. When the afternoon grew tired I collected the shot rabbits while wiser rabbits could be heard shuffling nervously beneath the iron with my footsteps above.

Back at the vehicle the bunnies were gutted and heads removed as the flies had already left their calling card in the rabbit's mouths. Apart from that they were now safe from blowfly strike in the back of the Toyota. They'd be used for ferret food, so the delay in field dressing wasn't a problem.

I went home for a feed before returning just after dark to do some spotlighting. Still the wind blew strong through the Cyprus trees causing them to sing their familiar tune in a choir with the whistling wind. Stars and a quarter moon were my only company as I made my way for the house yard and garden. The gate was opened with the customary clatter of chain and latch (regardless of how quiet you try to be) before I lit up the front lawn. Six bunnies could be seen; a pair within thirty yards and another four over to the left at 50 yards. The bolmayt was being worked and rabbit kicking as his companion disappeared into the next paddock. Over to the fence post I went and there he was sitting still on the other side. Thwack! Now back to the other four. They had become uneasy with the two shots and the dull spotlight beam caused them to mill about. Four shots later another three bunnies lay still on the front lawn. I was rapt to take five out of the six rabbits and fantasies of 30 or 40 rabbits sprung to mind.

Unfortunately, that wasn't to be as the night went downhill from there. Around the back of the house, where the majority of rabbits were; the wind blew strongly making the bunnies very uneasy and accurate shooting difficult. I only managed another five of the frustrating conies while I was a bit disappointed with only 19 bunnies on a property where 30 to 50 should've been taken. I was really blessed that the owner had a hayshed haven for me and the rabbits to get out of that wind!

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