Hunting: Sportpup in the field
- Credit: Archant
Eddie Jones gets to the field with his high-power rifle at last
Since last month, I have just about managed a couple of quick sessions with the FAC Galahad, and one that really proved successful was an afternoon on some rabbits and pigeons that had started to get a grip on some old land that I look after. This year, young rabbits are popping up everywhere I go, so the farmers are seeing more every time they do their rounds and the phone is starting to get hot with callouts. I rarely shoot any young rabbits, unless the farmer is with me, because I like to give myself some opportunities in the summer months. It is hard to get squirrels and pigeons once the trees get full of leaf, so summer is predominantly for rabbits.
This particular ground has a couple of small woods that I can stalk along, or lie out in wait, and either method works because there is some cover that you can conceal yourself with as you are stalking, and where there is clover, there is always a chance of the odd pigeon or two. Whilst I have been out, it has given me a chance to get used to the different aim points too, on the FAC Galahad. I’ve been testing up to 60 yards and the Galahad’s grouping is fantastic, even at those longer ranges.
For the last couple of months, I have also been testing Jack Pyke’s new fleece range of clothing. I’ve been waiting a long time for this new range to come out because it’s a lot more user-friendly in the summer months than wearing a jacket. I can confirm it is of good quality; I have certainly put it through its paces so far, and it’s holding up well.
Anyway, back to the shooting. I got to the ground at around 3pm and the sun was shining, but there was a strong easterly wind blowing. Usually, it is a west wind and I have always been able to use the normal route and get to some good ambush points, but this time I would have to go the opposite way and just see what I could get close to.
I started off at the bottom hayfields that run alongside a single-track lane up to the ‘posh houses’, as I call them. In the evening, these fields can produce well, but as I was walking along by the hedge, I soon found that it was going to be difficult today. The grass was over a foot high, and although I could get sight of a couple of ears sticking up, there was no clear shot. I was getting to about 50 yards away from the rabbit, and then it was too late because I was either spotted by that rabbit, or another that I hadn’t seen. I decided to carry on regardless, though. I always like to see which runs are being used, for future reference, so it’s not a wasted walk even if I don’t get a shot off.
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I had walked three, good length fields, still without a clear shot, but at the end of the fields there are a couple of horse paddocks that have a small number of rabbits, so I slowly edged to the bushes to take a look. I couldn’t spot any rabbits from where I was, but I could see a few pigeons – and they were in range, so I tucked myself in along the bushes and edged round as slowly as possible. I had my sights on the closest pigeon at 40 yards, and the wind was not so strong in this corner of the field so I put the cross on its chest for a heart shot. If this had been my .177, I would certainly have gone for a head shot, but with the extra power and size of pellet I knew that I’d get an instant kill.
I had set my zero for 45 yards and this was straight at where I wanted to hit, and boy did the Galahad hit! The loud thump of the lead pellet hitting home sent the other pigeons on their way, but the one I hit was going nowhere, it fell forward and hardly twitched. I picked up my pigeon and set off again to the next fields that might hold a rabbit or two.
Wait it out
I reached one of the small woods and the bottom had already grown quite thick, so it was hard to see anything moving around in there, but I could see a small warren and there were a couple of young rabbits sitting out near the holes. I decided to wait it out for a while; usually if young rabbits are about it’s only a matter of time before mum shows herself. I positioned myself behind a large tree stump, a perfect platform to shoot from, and a couple of bigger rabbits came out to join the youngsters, and they looked around the three-quarters-grown mark, so I decided to take one of those. I had a nice, clear shot through the branches in front of me, and 35 yards is nothing to the sheer power of the Galahad FAC. The .22 pellet struck hard. I could see the pellet impact so clearly through the Hawke AirMax – it’s such a clear scope, even when looking into woods.
One in the bush...
After picking up the rabbit, I carried on along the woods to a more open area. When I got to the field I could see pigeons at the far end so I decided to lie in the long grass that was bordering the field and hope that one would land closer.
I wasn’t disappointed with the decision because after 10 minutes, it paid off nicely. One pigeon that was feeding had taken flight and had landed on a bush 20 yards in front of me. I could see its body through the branches, so I took a heart shot and the pigeon dropped like a stone. The sound of the impact lifted the group of pigeons and they all decided to come my way, and another of the group decided to land in the same bush as the one I’d just shot. I was already in position, so this was just a formality, and it joined its companion on the floor. That was a result! Two pigeons in a short time was just what I needed.
The wind was getting pretty strong now, so the shorter distances were a real bonus. As I was walking around, I noticed some new rabbit activity along one of the fence lines where there had been no holes before. It’s worth walking all the fields on your permissions now and then, even if they haven’t produced in the past. Well, I carried on for another hour and I did manage another pigeon and a rabbit, near the car, so all in all it was a fruitful trip with the FAC Galahad, and I am looking forward to more sessions. After taking the final pictures, the rabbits and pigeons were soon sorted for the freezer, thanks to the super knife from Jack Pyke.
One more thing before I sign off; the sling stud plate that I added to my rifle from ww.customslingplates.co.uk worked a treat, and it was a dream to walk around the permission with the rifle on my shoulder. It is solid and I didn’t even notice the extra length on the rifle.