I shoot everything, including juveniles. This ground is SSSI downland that is classed as ancient wild flower meadow. It's a very steep valley that has never been cultivated. It can only be maintained by livestock grazing and the rabbits do terrible damage. They eat the wild flora the owners are trying to conserve and leave the scrub species they're trying to get rid of.why shoot milky rabbits ?does the land owner want them gone , if so why not shoot the little ones
The ground is covered in Yellow Meadow ant-hills and the rabbits dig these causing soil erosion and their holes are a menace to grazing cattle and the owner's three wild Exmoor ponies which are the only livestock Natural England will let them graze year round.
The owners want the rabbits gone and if I don't do it they will get someone else who will. It's out and out vermin control I'm afraid. I can't afford to conserve rabbit stocks for my own sport. But even if I did, while I can tell the difference between a buck and a doe through the scope, spotting whether a solitary doe having a browse at dusk is lactating from 120 yards away is more of a challenge. I think I might need my reading glasses..
As a point of interest, I'm also managing the deer as well. And in their case it has to be actual management, not tear-as-much-cash-out-of-the-bucks-as-you-can management. The valley is surrounded on three sides by woodland and hasn't been adequately grazed for some years so the scrub is colonising the grassland and as it's an SSSI the owners have a duty to restore the habitat. And it isn't easy. A few roe browsing bramble scrub on the treeline at the top of the valley actually help. Twenty of them eating the wild flowers before they've seeded and trashing the hazel coppice on the valley floor don't. And that's the trouble. They don't necessarily stay on the treeline and they are also joined by Sika periodically. There are Muntjac appearing too which will do no good at all. Small in number now and hopefully I can keep it that way.
I have a gold medal buck on there. Or did have. Haven't seen him since the start of the season so maybe the neighbours have shot him (though fingers crossed a north wind lately may be keeping the deer in the woods). I could shoot him myself or sell him and make a few quid if he has a viable successor but I could do with keeping him there to defend his territory instead of inviting a competitive free-for-all in his absence. The tricky bit, as always, is convincing the landowners that nature abhors a vacuum and shooting deer indiscriminately when you've got a healthy woodland population right on the boundary eager to acquire new territory is likely to make things worse rather than better.
As for talking to Natural England about the finer points of deer management and rabbit control, let's not go there right now...
I'm all Natural Englanded out following recent discussions on dormice..