Here we are, question and answer time?
“How do you creep up on rabbits but not get spotted by them?”
Well to answer that I’m going to run you through a simulation, use your imagination on this one folks!
So, you are creeping through the fields and and you notice the bunny sat at the other end the hedge about 70 yards away. You want to try and shoot it but with your sub 12ft lb. air rifle you are finding this quite a challenge to do from a distance of over 30/40 yards. Unless your packing an FAC air rifle or one of them Rimfire jobbies then just follow where I’m going with this. The problem your currently having is closing the gap between you and your quarry.
Although rabbits don’t have the best eyesight in the world they can still see reasonably well and will spot you silhouetted against the sky if you make yourself stand out. Your first port of call is to assess which way the wind is blowing. Either way you need to be down wind of your prey in order to avoid detection with the wind blowing into your face. To help with this try not to lather yourself in your best Dolce and Gabbana aftershave, you will smell great but fail miserably at the stalk!
Next, get yourself as low as possible to the ground and walk slowly forward using any cover you can to hide yourself out of view of your prey. I cannot highlight enough how slow you need to be on approach to your quarry, slow and steady really does win this race! If you find the rabbit popping it head up, you can be sure that it has heard you, seen you or can smell you. Stand/lie/crouch in position until the rabbit lowers its head to feed again, then set off again… SLOWLY! try and avoid walking under trees as you can quite often step on crunchy leaves and brittle sticks that make a loud snap!
Once you have got yourself close enough to your prey that you can safely head or heart shot it without causing suffering, you need to get down into a comfortable shooting position whether this is on your knees or in a sat down position OR in prone on your belly to take your shot. if you are out of breath (which is normal for me) i take a minute to gather myself before taking the shot assuring that i am set for a clean and accurate kill. Always make sure you shoot between the eyes and ears if possible or a heart shot. Anything else is just likely to wound the animal and make it suffer which is not the aim of the game!
If you find that you are scaring the rabbits away, DON’T WORRY. We all learn over time and learn from our mistakes. Make sure you have sufficient camo gear on to blend you into your surroundings. Take your time with this, Enjoy the experience and make sure you have the right gear for the job.
Before going out hunting for anything, make sure your rifle is zeroed correctly to your chosen range, I find 5 pellets in a 5 pence grouping is good enough. Pellet choice is vital for the hunting game as much as it is target shooting.
I find domed pellets such as RWS Superdomes or Bisley magnums work well with my .177. If you are struggling to find the Right pellet for you then you can find out a couple of ways.
The first is, buying a sample pack of pellets and trying them out. This is a little time consuming but it works. Another way for you to choose the right pellet is ask at your local gun shop for advice, there’s no one better qualified to answer your ammo quiestions than a gun shop owner, right? Last but not least… The Internet! It’s the place we turn to for most of our questions, pellet exchange forums and airgun forums are the best places to start. Checking manufacturers websites for pellets can be done HOWEVER you will gain more experience and options on the forums. A lot of people will have the same rifle as you and a lot will be happy to help you find the right pellet for the job!
If it is a new rifle you have, make sure it is shooting at a sensible ftlbs power for the quarry you are hunting, it is your responsibility as a hunter to give your quarry a respectful and swift dispatch. So there we have it, a brief guide for beginners who are setting out on their shooting journey.