I downed the last drop of coffee and switched off the Landrover's new digital radio leaving the BBC World Service to those in most need. Stepping over a newly erected fence c/o two strategically placed logs I loaded the twenty-two calibre Cooper Arms JSR then commenced a meandering stalk along an ancient hedge. Glancing through the acid-green leaf of a young willow, pleasing vapour rose from the adjacent outdoor swimming pools as the sun poured its Abbott Ale-like rays over the Greensand Ridge. The vapour drifted in a recalcitrant manner that confirmed my earlier reading of wind strength & direction as indicated on the Kestrel 4500 NV with Bluetooth. I looked longingly at the largest pool not 30 yards away and seriously contemplated delaying my relaxed Sunday morning stalk as sweat was already leaking from beneath my Lock & Co hat on what was clearly going to be the hottest day of the year for all but those in soon-to-be free West Scotland. In my head a sudden burst of Kevin Coyne tugged at my sometimes less than helpful sensibility:
Why? I have ******* no idea so simply treat as optional mood music for the rest of my tale!
Back to the task at hand I prepared to be no less drenched while fully clothed in - I'm sure you wish to know - Arktis "hot climate" shirt, vintage Ralph Lauren green chord cargos and a pair of now discontinued Cabela's Turkey Hunters as I commenced a belly-stalk that at one point took me through the gurgling outflow from an ice-cold underground spring. Carefully unfastening my Maxpedition Versipack I pushed this invaluable piece of kit forward and slid the Cooper's fine walnut onto the part inflated portable Allan seat that is permanently attached by straps. The 30-year old 8X30 Zeiss binoculars revealed 5 rabbits within range and given of a safe backstop. I settled on 2 of a size that safely ruled out carrying young or likely to spill milk when paunched. Placing the 8X30B’s to one side and levelling the rifle I grasped the front Butler Creek cover and rotated the scope's adjustable parallax by half a turn. The flip-up cover didn't fall apart as the furthest rabbit snapped into perfect Leupold 6 – 20 power EFR focus.
Crack! The RWS subsonic connected with bone. The rabbit launched itself across the dew-wet grass like a crazed DMQ L2 Witness which reminded me to reload. The dead but “I’m not having any of it Guv” rabbit was still doing the jack-in-the-box on repeat routine as I squeezed off the next round for a shot that all but severed head form neck.
With both young rabbits divested of their digestive tracts c/o my ivory micarta Fallkniven PXL I moved slowly to the lower meadow before attempting a series of stalks across undulating terrain that would take me into an adjoining farm with no less opportunity for the hunter of a truly "sporting rifle" sensibility. My plan however soon went out the window as I caught sight of a russet object in full repose beneath one of the many ‘folds’ in the escarpment. It was less than 20 yards away and apparently asleep.
I dropped below sightline into a kneeling position and slid the world's finest rifle sling from shoulder while forcing my 50-something grey matter to compute whether to a; - jump up and take a hurried off-hand shot in the hope our slumbering fox would be slow to read the situation or b; - commence another belly-stalk until almost at pig sticking distance. My heart pounded as more sweat dripped onto the green rubber armouring of the Zeiss at which point the light went on as the NORDIKPREDATOR open read call swung gently from its permanently attached lanyard as if scolding me for my oversight. Game on Mr. Klenchblaize!
Silently I unfurled the lightweight Predator Sniper Styx into a low V before sliding the JSR (“Jackson Squirrel Rifle”) into position and cutting back the scope to 6 power. I then coaxed a single squeal from my custom K-tuned NORDIKPREDATOR call. Immediately the russet mask popped into view followed by several steps forward. One more squeal for luck and I let go the call and settled in behind the ocular lens. The fox was now in full view and getting bigger by the second! Off went the safety as the now fully awake and hungry fox halted to half-heartedly test the air. Just as the crosshair settled nicely in line with the lower left ear it lurched forward and trotted on. The mask now completely filled the scope as my pulse rate stepped up another gear and I seriously considered just how much more excitement I could take at 05:30 on a Sunday if I wasn’t to fluff the whole thing. The time had come to stop mucking about and pull the bloody trigger! I recall attempting to hold slightly low between the eyes but how much this helped at 5 yards I’m not at all sure. What I can say with certainty is I’ve never heard a louder impact from lead connecting with bone than at the moment the fox folded as if hit with a hammer.
As nothing else came close to that level of excitement for the remainder of the stalk I’ll spare you further ramblings other than to say how much I enjoyed my first and clearly well-deserved outdoor dip of 2014 even if the time has come to hang up my Le Chameau budgie smugglers!