Rabbits

Finch

Well-Known Member
why shoot milky rabbits ?does the land owner want them gone , if so why not shoot the little ones
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.
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...:banghead:
I'm all Natural Englanded out following recent discussions on dormice..
 
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VSS

Well-Known Member
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.
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 thrashing 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...:banghead:
Interesting post. Thanks.
 

deerwarden

Well-Known Member
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.
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 thrashing 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...:banghead:
Ditto, I have two farms bordering an SSSI area, my issue is the deer breaking out at night, and causing damage to the crops adjacent to the reserve area. There are a large number of red deer, lots of CWD, and muntjac, and a few fallow deer as well.
There is no deer management carried out within the reserve at all, and the deer are mostly nocturnal in their raiding habits of the surrounding farmland. Management of the deer on the farmland is difficult, due to their habit of feeding at night and then laying up during the day in the reserve. You have to put in a LOT of effort to deter the deer from raiding the crops, as well as killing every rabbit you see on the farmland. Keeps me busy, and I love every moment spent out there, also retained to do it as well. deerwarden
 

philip

Well-Known Member
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.
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...:banghead:
I'm all Natural Englanded out following recent discussions on dormice..

Hi Finch

Just out of interest, one of my SSSI sites ( not wetland) I look after, after considerable debate ( I thought for a minute they wanted me to use a catapult) I can only use non toxic Ammo which has brought me to using non tox 35 grn in my 222 it’s a bit OTT but combined with Ferreting it gets the numbers down to limit damage which is 80 % to burrows damage to the ground, I’m not sure whether it’s a local thing or nationwide

Any thought. ???

It would certainly be better with a rimmy on 50 yd bolters but it’s management
 

Finch

Well-Known Member
Thankfully I've never had an ammo restriction to work with. I've only just acquired my piece of ground. At the moment I'm sniping with an HMR (don't have my ferrets anymore). It's loud in a steep valley. If your triple is moderated I expect it sounds exactly the same as my HMR. From past experience, I'll have a few weeks when I can get away with this approach and then the remaining rabbits will change their behaviour and then It'll probably be a .22 and NV.

What you really need is non-toxic .22 ammo. Does it exist? I guess non-toxic subsonic would be difficult because you need the bullet weight to keep the velocity down.
 

Cottis

Well-Known Member
Well I dug the HMR out yesterday evening for a walk round as our wheat field is showing good numbers in the margins again, albeit they have plenty of gorse and cover to hide in but their presence is given away by a huge increase in scrapings etc.

Then over on the hill where historically we had lots of rabbits, they are suddenly back again. I was out for an hour just walking about without any care and shot 4 good sized rabbits, 2 off hand and 2 off mid sticks due to the grass being too high for prone shots. It is the best sort of shooting in my opinion. Proper skills, proper markmanship and getting close. No shots were over 65yds.

Anyhow, a few observations.

Firstly, there was either obvious flea infestations on the rabbits ears or none at all. Fleas were apparent on the younger rabbits but not the biggest, oldest one, which was in incredibly good perfect condition.

Secondly, there are very freshly dug burrows near to pre existing burrows. Now numbers are on the increase but not to the point where old burrows would not be enough to utilise. This was historically a very busy rabbit area with many many burrows, many of which have grass grown over them and are clearly not in use.

This got me thinking about why. I have not seen this before or certainly not as apparent as this. There are certainly more badgers in the area than ever before with some sets very close to the burrows. I did wonder if underground the badgers had moved in to the old warrens without having an impact on the old entrances.

Or, I started thinking about VHD and how most rabbits almost certainly die underground. Nature will take its course and the corpses will decompose etc but I thought maybe new rabbits have consciously chosen to not inhabit old burrows that they associate with disease.

Also, has VHD given badgers a trove of subterranean rotting treasure to feast on? Another reason why their numbers may have exploded over the last coupla years.

I suppose we will never know but it was lovely to be out with nature, putting some meat in the freezer and generally provoking thought about how and why things are happening out of sight.
 

bluesako

Well-Known Member
yep i remember you could go out and fill your pot full in a good hour, went out last week shot 3 in as many hours, heres a pic of some we shot last year on the same ground. bs. 136.JPG
 
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Finch

Well-Known Member
As for talking to Natural England about the finer points of deer management and rabbit control, let's not go there right now...:banghead:
I'm all Natural Englanded out following recent discussions on dormice..
And I'm definitely not talking to them about non-toxic ammo...
 

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