Daystate MK3 FOR FREE
Richard Armstrong not only won a superb Daystate MK3 combo, but also the chance to hunt with airgunning legend, Terry Le Cheminant. Matt Clark reports.
Conditions were far from ideal. It was a cold, clear day; we were going hunting mid-morning - never a good time for rabbits - and there would be three of us stomping around. Seasoned hunter, Terry, was not optimistic about our chances of bagging a rabbit. Richard, Air Gunner’s winner of the Daystate MK3, was more philosophical about the situation: “I’m just happy to have a walk in the country and to meet you and Matt,” he said to Le Chem. I suppose things could have been worse; it could have been raining. As it was, the sky was an ethereal blue and we were enjoying the break from the incessant rain we’d had for the last couple of days. But against all odds we managed to make it a memorable day and bag a few bunnies into the bargain. Richard and I rend�zvoused at Le Chem’s house, then I drove us to a permission near by. We pulled up outside an old manor house with tall, crooked Elizabethan chimneys and pulled on our cammo hunting suits. I’d opted for a Jack Pyke number. The ‘Hunter’s’ jacket and trousers are supremely warm and I think the English Oak cammo really suits my complexion. Richard had gone all designer and was giving his new JahtiJakt outfit the first airing. Terry took the middle ground in sartorial elegance and opted for a Realtree pattern suit: good choice. After we were suited and booted I got the Daystate MK3 out of my car and Terry formally handed it over to Richard. We then began the process of zeroing our rifles; well, Richard and Terry did, I was just armed with a camera. Terry paced out 35 metres and stuck the Nockover spiked target in the ground. He then set about zeroing Richard’s new Daystate. Terry said he preferred cardboard boxes with drawing pins stuck in to help him zero. Apparently he pushes the drawing pins into the box and then shoots the heads off them. “With a cardboard box you can see where your pellets are landing and adjust your scope accordingly,” Terry said. He used the face plate of the magpie target to zero the rifle because the lead splatter on the painted surface told him where the pellets were landing. After he had got the rifle zeroed he went for the yellow kill zone and nailed it right in the centre. Richard then took a few shots to get used to his new rifle and was soon pinging the target with ease. Terry got his Air Arms S 510-SL out of the gun slip and ensured it was zeroed. He explained that zeroing a rifle before hunting was essential to make a clean and humane kill and that the zero should be tested every time because the sights can get knocked out of zero during transit. TRICK SHOTS Then came time for one of Terry’s trick shots. “I hate paper punching. Nothing bores me more. I like my targets to be a bit more reactive,” said Terry as he marched up to the wooden fence and placed a five pence piece in a crack on one of the crossbars. He then walked back 35 metres, borrowed Richard’s MK 3 and shot at the coin. A ‘ping’ announced that the pellet had found its mark. Just to show it wasn’t a fluke, Terry pulled out another coin and shot it off the fence again with a single shot. Impressive – I didn’t think Terry had so much money. After topping up the air in the rifles, we set off to hunt rabbits. Terry took us to a place where he said they congregated regularly. We stalked up to the place slowly and…saw nothing. We continued to another bunny hot spot, and…saw nothing. Undefeated we ventured further. Walking through woods and next to hedge rows, all we came across were some empty beer cans. I was stomping around taking photos, which didn’t help matters. The situation looked grim. BEING AT HOME WITH YOUR RANGES Still, Terry was passing on some useful hunting tips as we walked along. He explained how important it was to know your ranges before you even started to go hunting. “You won’t be an accurate shot if you can’t judge distances,” said Terry. “Range finding practice can be done anywhere” he said. “Walk along the street and guess the distance between lamp posts and pace it out as you walk to see if your guess was right.” He added that in a rural situation you could judge distance by looking at fence posts because they are regularly spaced apart. “Range finding is a big skill that will improve your shooting no end. I will even put range markers out in the field if I am hide shooting rabbits. Some people say that’s cheating, but I say it’s common sense to ensure you shoot the rabbit in the head and despatch it as quickly as possible.” Another part of effective shooting is knowing the speed and direction of the wind explained Terry. He showed how wind speed could be estimated by pulling up a handful of grass and scattering it to the wind. The speed and direction of where the wind carries the grass will give you some idea of the speed and direction of the wind. Terry’s explanation was cut short as we spied two rabbits frolicking at the edge of the field. Terry asked Richard if he wanted to have a shot at them. Richard replied that he thought they were out of range. He was not used to his new rifle and was fearful that he might not be a proficient shot with it. “Right answer,” said Terry. The rabbits were about 65 metres away and you should only ever shoot at a living target when you have absolute confidence in your marksmanship and know that the rabbit is within 50 metres. By this time the rabbits had fled, but we were able to check to see if we had got the range right. Terry paced it out and sure enough they had been 65 metres away. We thought we had blown our chances of getting a rabbit, and continued onto another field. As soon as we entered we spotted another bunny at the far end. This time Terry went in for the kill. He crouched low with the sun behind him and crept about 80 metres. He knew the sun would prevent the rabbit from seeing him and that being down wind of the rabbit would mean the rabbit couldn’t smell him either. All he had to be careful of was the vibrations of his foot falls. He got within 40 metres of the rabbit and then lay down on all fours and started to crawl to within 30 metres of it. Richard and I stood mesmerised at Terry in action. We saw him pull out the legs of his bipod and settle down for the shot. We waited with baited breath. All our hopes in getting a rabbit for the day rested on Terry and his rifle. It seemed like an eternity went by then we heard the muffled crack of a shot and the rabbit fell to Terry’s S 510 -SL. We rushed over and saw that Terry had shot the rabbit straight through the eye. A perfect shot. Richard had seen how Terry used the bi-pod on his rifle to help steady his shot and rest his rifle when he retrieved the rabbit. “I must get a bi-pod fitted to my new Daystate; they look very useful,” he said. Terry then started gutting the rabbit. His method is to trim the fur back to the skin in between the rabbit’s rear legs and then pinch the skin to make the incision. He opened the rabbit up and then emptied the guts into the hedgerow, knowing that by night fall it would be hoovered up by some hungry creature. I had to make a feeble joke by saying that I bet the rabbit was gutted when Terry shot him…They didn’t find it funny either. He hocked the rabbit and I got the job of carrying it. We hadn’t gone far when we saw another rabbit. Again, Terry went in for it. This time he didn’t have so far to stalk and soon there was another paunched rabbit hanging off my arm. I decided it was time to return to base because the light was fading and I was feeling like a ghillie carrying those rabbits. Even the walk back was eventful. Going through a dark wooded glade we spotted a deer. It froze for a second, giving me time to get my camera up to my eye, but moved before I could take a picture. Taking photographs is very like hunting in that sometimes you just miss that perfect shot. I dropped Richard off at Terry’s house and they went in to discuss the day’s hunting and the Daystate MK3 over a cup of tea. Terry’s stalking skills had saved the day. We could quite easily have gone out and come back with nothing, but skill and luck had made this a memorable day’s hunting. I’m sure it’s a day that Richard won’t forget, especially as he’d got a �1000 Daystate combo for his �2 entry to the competition. Funny how small things can lead to much bigger things.