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The Hunters Chronicles - Monday 26th March 2012

Spring truly is a season that is alive. Alive with the magic and miracle of life in all its abundant forms. A chance to welcome the return of seemingly long lost companions you mourned the fading of not 3-4 months prior. It is little wonder that it was cause for many a celebration for our fore-fathers and a time to rejoice in the gift that you and your fellows managed to preserve in the cold dark times now past. There are few grounds upon which I can doubt as to why they named this 'now', this moment, the 'present'. Of course, it is also mellowed with the memory of those who may not have made it. Like the many squirrels, pigeons, and even perhaps a friend or relative. A great dose of perspective not bestowed upon those for whom the seasons have little impact. They who spend their lives under artificial light locked away in the same fashion 'industry', the very same machine they perpetuate, imposes upon the wretched broiler house chicken.

All these thoughts came to me as I, in direct contrast, prowled the fields drenched in the rising warmth of the morning sunlight. Feet bathed in dew. A cool breeze frigid enough to warrant an extra layer in spite of the suns efforts and the scene witnessed by the eye.

A long reconnoiter culminated in an ideal spot under a tree frequented often by the pigeons that cooed all around.

As I waited in silence (pausing sometimes to reply to hunting life comments on my mobile) I cast my eyes about to see what other opportunities may be exploited in future. Pheasants were all around, confident and bold almost as though they were aware of our rules and legislations. A crow mobbed a buzzard, always a sight of awe at his bravery as each time I measure the disparity between the size of the combatants. So fierce and persistent is the crow, that I cannot help but pity the bird of prey and question why he doesn't rip the cocky devil to shreds!
Otherwise only the odd lone rabbit could be seen, timid and fearful way out of range.

It wasn't long before I fluffed my first opportunity, it wasn't long after that before I was more careful and took my time.

This time, two settled in the tree, my target chosen by the clearest path. I wasn't entirely happy witb the shot he presented and no sooner had I mulled this over when a third arrived. Scope adjusted to 6x mag crosshairs settled one the head with only slight elevation for gravity, it was lights out upon impact with a direct fall to the ground.

A victory cigarette and a half assed attempt at stalking a young rabbit, then it was off home to tell you guys all about it!

The Hunter's Chronicles - Thursday 19th March 2012

Birch sap is reputed to be very good for the kidneys, helping to combat kidney stones and dissolve sand etc from them. I don't doubt it on the grounds that I had a bottle before bed and at 05:05 this morning my bladder was rather larger than usual. Fire lit, porridge cooked on it chickens let out into the run coffee drunk, and off it was for a stalk. A beautiful clear morning, the sort that usually follows the preceding clear frosty night. I had barely entered the woodland when I spied a pigeon alighting upon a branch high in a tree 40 odd yards away. Adjusting for both range and elevation, not much just half a mildot, I took a standing shot through the myriad of twigs and branches. Like an adversary of Biggles, he fell to earth. As I hastily hunted for him (the coffee had kicked in...) an owl burst from a holly bush to my right. The word "Wow" escaped my lips. Incredible sight. A quick squat, and I eventually found him at the foot of his previous perch.

 For the sake of a leg stretch and to enjoy the glorious daybreak I sauntered on. I reached a notorious spot for squizzy whizzers, and I wasn't disappointed. A heavy female bounced along the ground to my right, paused for too long and she felt a JSB enter her heart and lungs. By the time I got to her her eyes were still open, life expired too quickly for the body to react.

On the way back, no pellet loaded this time, I was pretty happy with my bonus, a little male hopped across the ground to my left. I dropped to a knee, thumbed in a pellet and slowly rose. He scrabbled along the branches and paused. A JSB passed through his brain and down he tumbled.

 Three pellets, three instant dispatches, all standing shots, from 20-45 yards. I'm very pleased and glad I took the time to properly learn the rifle, the hold overs and study chairgun to establish the optimum zero range. It really pays off. As does the purchase of a £50 combro. An invaluable and essential piece of kit. Matched by not skimping on the buying of quality pellets that suit your gun. No 'cheap' product will do the job as well in my experience, frustration is normally the result.

 Replenishing the Birch Sap supply.

I always enjoy seeing the smoke gently rising from the chimney on mornings such as these.

The collection.

The end product.

I wasn't exactly sure how one eviscerates a pigeon, but I made it up as I went along. I normally just slice off the breasts but the waste has never sat well with me. His heart was enjoyed by the chickens, and the rest given a rather fitting burial in the woodland he enjoyed. His bones to be cremated in the woodburner and returned to the earth via the compost heap. As demonstrated by the spring and the re-emergence all around, from death, comes life. I'm still puzzled as to why chickens seem to enjoy eating feathers though... Bizarre creatures...

The Hunter's Chronicles - Thursday 15th March 2012

Our choice of lifestyle and living arrangements means that when my 8 year old daughter needs a wee at night, she has to rouse me so that I can open the sliding doors of the bedroom compartment...
This she duly did at 04:30 this morning.
Fantastic. Fire lit, coffee down the gullet, chickens let out, quick browse of internet searching and slobbering over stuff I can't afford like, airgun tuning, guns and parts and of course, checking the forum etc, all done as the sun was just beginning to rise. Superb.
MkIII loaded, and I slipped into the mist towards a spot I saw pigeons congregating yesterday morning. Farmers are sowing so there are loads of pheasants, pigeons, crows, magpies and jays. Lots of targets (bar pheasants (for the legal eagles)).

I found a great spot that just so happened to be riddled with rabbit warrens, loads of them. Some old, some inhabited. So many I had to watch where I stepped to prevent a broken ankle. I love that aspect of hunting. Often a bonus is thrown in.

Well this time I had another experience that re-enforces my belief that when hunting for the pot not the tally, animals will present themselves willingly. I was quiet and still, scanning the many calls and attempting to locate the source, when a pigeon flew over and landed in the tree directly in front of me not 15 yards away. Down he went with a shot through the neck. Into a F**K off bramble patch. As he died pretty much instantly there was no flapping to guide me in. Eventually I recovered the prize and as I rested and allowed the adrenaline to drain away, two rooks were playing silly buggers within range. Pop, down he plopped. Sadly stuck in Ivy.

Why did I shoot him? I did so almost instinctively. They are also tough to get close to. I think it was that reason that was behind my assassination of a magpie. Shot him right underneath the eye and was puzzled why I did... Do I dare admit to myself that on those occasions I may in fact have killed for 'sport'!? Oh God.

Lunch. Stir fried. Yumm

The Hunter's Chronicles - Saturday 10th March 2012

Insomnia at four in the morning... what is one to do? A dawn patrol.
This morning had that feeling, a willing animal was out there. Waiting to be delivered to the grassy knoll outside the halls of valhalla. Mist swirled as smoke in the light wind. As I walked through the woods, the trees shivered in anticipation of the day ahead, shedding mini showers. My step was quickened as the nicotine and caffeine conspired in my gut. So distracting was this that I startled roosting pigeons from their nests in succession, chiding myself with each one that took flight.
I approached the venue as the Weihrauch sensed its prey. Out of the fog, the grey silhouette of a candidate was etched on the horizon. I dropped to my knee, taken by surprise at the rabbits bold display. I fired. I thought I saw his legs roll and point skywards, but the lack of a body proved that I had observed his ears as he legged it.
Onwards I went along the hedgerow, crouching, one foot softly leading the other. Movement ahead. The mist enveloped all in its path, providing the hunter with a cloak of concealment and a distinct advantage. A large doe nonchalantly chewed, unaware that in seconds a JSB Exact would be sent her way and send her to the afterlife.

This one was infested with rats leaving a sinking ship they congregated on her ears leaping overboard. So many were there that I was grateful for the chance discovery of a discarded dog lead that saved me putting her in the game bag and the job of cleaning it out later...

The Hunter's Chronicles - Monday 5th March 2012

Hey Hey! Morning all!

06:30 this morning I threw open my curtains. Glorious morning, clear sky, sun just peeking over the horizon and WTF! a rabbit lolloping past my solar panels! This is a good morning!
A quick fag and I released the chickens (the newest addition to the household), then I shook the MKIII awake and off I hopped. Nothing.
A walk through the woods. Nothing. Just scared off the woodies one after the other. No squizzy whizzers.
I arrived home with the pellet in the breach being philosophical. Again.
As a habit, after drawing a blank and in order to fire off the action, I walk a few paces into our little woodland where a rabbit sometimes can be seen. Frustratingly he's normally there when you go for a shit as its near to where I keep the bucket.
But NO! There he was munching away. You beauty. I crouched down and gave a squeak, bloody twigs in the way. I slowly rose, the crosshairs ascended and when they rested on the sweet spot. Lights out.

Some folks have expressed an interest in some of the other aspects of my activities so here are some snippets...

Smoking skins...

Breakfast - Thanks Chickens!

Much Love y'all!

The Hunter's Chronicles - Thursday 1st March 2012

Ever seen The Simpsons episode where Homer is sitting waiting for his gun and all sorts of targets drive past?

That was my day. Nearly.

Quick rewind.

Yesterday, glorious weather. Normally I've been going out lamping with mixed results, so I thought I'd try a change of tactics... I ended up scaring everything away, only catching flashes of white as the wabbits scarpered. I even got so desperate I crawled god knows how many yards stalking them only to fluff the shot. Twice. All in lovely sunshine.

As I've said before, the Great Airgun Hunter in the sky only gives when I need. He must've smiled.

I did however make a fair few mental notes of various telltale signs of wabbit activity. I always try to say it was a 'recce' to console myself after drawing a blank.

Today, whilst out for a walk around 15:10 with Mrs n tiddlywinks, I spied three rabbits basking in more glorious sunshine. They couldn't have given an arse about us. One sat barely 15 yards away, the other two maybe 25. The things you see without your rifle...
When I got home I was off! To repeat yesterdays performance. This time I tried static hunting. And learned I have neither the patience nor the luck. Whilst lying prone in the hedgerow 3 yes [u]3[/u] pheasants sauntered through my cross hairs. It pains me that this is no jest. I said to myself, "If he puts his head through my crosshairs he'll lose it", three times. Each time I decided against it. 1 because I only asked the owner if I could shoot rabbits, 2 I know the owners relatives breed them and organise shoots and 3 the field is overlooked by a property, if not the whole valley and 4, end of their season (although not if the previous 3 conditions didn't apply and I was hungry!) Not worth it.
I pretend I don't even like the taste of pheasant.

18:15 I gave up with the waning light and trudged home.

20:30 I saddled up the MkII TX200 with the Solarforce L2 Torch and red filter and tried again.

Arrived at the gate. First sweep, a reflection by the hedge to my left, resting on the gate I took an unhurried shot. She just lay flat on her side. Literally bowled over.
This 16 year old secondhand rifle has yet to fail me, and yet when I chronoed her she's only putting out a tired 10.6 ft/lbs, her stable mates a hearty 11.7ft/lbs. Go figure. I know she needs a service, I tell her I'll treat her to a vektor kit someday, but until I can save up my meagre income and muster the courage to rip her guts out, that day seems far away...

No pics i'm afraid. This one is for the imagination.


The Hunter's Chronicles - Tuesday 28th February

Wow wee, what a day!

First blood(s) for the 97k. One male, one female Squizzer. No glory shot sorry I forgot. But! I have some better ones...

Had me singing "Female Squizzer roasting on an open fire..." to the tune of the xmas jingle.

Now then children, listen carefully, for it was t'whilst I was butchering Mr Squizzey Whizzer that me ears did hear a melodious sound emanating from yonder tree. Hark, says I, Mr Pujin... So off I sloped to my Nissan Terrano mobile shed to get the MKIII TX200. I did not want to miss this shot.

Mr Pujin was oblivious to me scheming and I sloped past the wood shed where I could see him without showing myself. Hmmm, this would require some 'pellet threading'. There his head was. Breathe, first pressure, hold, thunk.
Like a downed flying ace, Mr Pujin plummeted to earth. His brains having pressed the ejector button and exited out the back of his skull.
Yum Yum. Off with his breast.

So the lesson for today is, keep your ears open and ya trusted rifle handy!

The Hunter's Chronicles - Friday 17th February (Night Patrol)

Friday 17th February (Night Patrol)

After what felt like one helluva marathon gutting and skinning session my back was aching and thumbs sore. Squirrels are darn fiddly to process and tough, well built machines.
Life for me then pretty much consists of the basic essentials. Water and wood (food taken care of!). Water collected, wood sawn, I went for a wander, a wander with a purpose. What I failed to include in my previous account was that on the return leg of my morning hunt I ran into a dog walker who gave me a hot tip on some wascally wabbits. He told me where I could find them and who owned the land. It was to this landowners residence that I wandered to around 17:00.
A quick summary of who I was and my intentions and he readily accepted my offer and granted me full permission. This is the chap who, it turns out, happens to own most of the valley... He trains and keeps race horses and the field I was interested in had just had new grass sown upon it. He was not happy with the rabbits feasting on it. His only proviso was that I text him prior to my outings, Not a problem sir!
Eager to get cracking I hurried home, scoffed my tea, and whizzed through the washing up like a school kid wanting to watch cartoons.
I saddled up the MkII Tx200 (has a bushnell banner dusk and dawn scope) with my solarforce lamp kit and hot footed it back to the field.

My first sweep of the field my heart sank. Nothing.
Had I been too eager? Had I come too early (it was gone 8 o'clock and quite dark now).
Had I made too much noise?
Had I got the right field?
Shut up lad.

As all you seasoned hunters know, looks can often be deceiving.

I walked along the hedgerow as softly as I could. The creak of my boots suddenly seemed deafening. I had attached the red filter and immediately regretted it. The lights of the village beyond almost canceled it out.

Ahhh but whats that I spy just off to my left? A twinkle? And so it was. A little rabbit hunkered down. Of course I near enough wet myself with glee and fluffed the shot. Goddamit!
Still, live and learn. Shame because that rabbit has just done the same.
On I crept, optimistic that the hordes of bunnies I had been promised lay just around the next bend in the hedge. To be sure I dazzled them and the tactic of cutting off their path with a dazzling beam of light, I detached the filter. It didn't cut the mustard let alone enough of the darkness.

I rounded the bend and touched the pressure switch mounted to the stock with masking tape. Zshwing my lamp was now a light sabre boring its power into the retinas of two slightly bemused rabbits.
Twang. Zing! What the! A miss?! The rabbits were even more bemused only hopping slightly.
Quick, reload.
Right, lets be sure on range, darkness being tricky and all. I light sabred them again, they edged closer to the hedge but my sword of light stopped them in their tracks. Now then, the closest bunny looked about to bolt, it turned its head giving me a lovely view between his ears. And that was the last thing he ever did.
No twitching. Just rolled over and lights out. Literally.
I switched to head torch (his mate scarpered) and inspected my prey. A neat hole at the back of the head, not perfectly in the middle, but just in from the left ear was the entry point and a slightly protruding eyeball showed where the pellet came to rest.

That was enough for me. I did sit and wait half heartedly but it wasn't long before I gave up and headed home. On the way back I scanned another field of this permission. Just one set of eyes glared back. I want a hot chocolate and my family has enough food for now. Enough perhaps for me to make some jerky!

The Hunter's Chronicles - Friday 17th February 2012

What's the story morning glory? Well, very different from yesterday! Walked outside and there were three squirrels within spitting distance. I don't know who was more surprised, but their reflexes were functioning better than mine. In a second they were gone. Walked not 50 paces on, and two more nervous squirrels bid a hasty retreat.
I cast my eye about and it snagged on a tuft of white by the base of a tree trunk. A very dead, very stiff squirrel. A kill from yesterday. She'd poked her head ever so slightly round for a peek. I had a pop and the head had disappeared. I'd presumed I'd missed, being such a small target, and she'd run up the tree. Evidently my aim was true. Bonus!

With the amount of prey about I didn't want to miss out so I tried a different approach. Instead of the softly, softly I went 'swift and bold'. This was quite effective. They seemed surprised and as they gathered their senses on the trunk of the nearest tree, bang, I took my shot. One was less than ten yards away to my left frozen to the spot. Didn't even move until my pellet peirced his ear.

Unlike yesterday, this morning was warmer and overcast. The strong sunlight of yesterday made things a challenge with lens flare and shadows. No so this morning.

I covered a much greater distance, far more quickly and ended with three kills plus bonus. I won't be eating the bonus one due to it not having been gutted promptly, this one will be skinned and laid out as an offering to Pan and his fellow woodland spirits in gratitude.

Very pleased with this mornings outing.

The Hunter's Chronicles - Thursday 16th February 2012.

After a year volunteering at an eco village after escaping the rat race, we towed our van back to Gloucestershire and now 'occupy' some neglected woodland surrounded by yet more woodland and fields. I hunt to eat. Everything I kill goes in the pot and as much as possible is used I.e skins tanned/cooked up to make glue, bones cooked for soup then burnt in the fire and used in compost.
Quarry spotted nearby;

Wood Pigeon – lots but elusive.
Pheasant – hard to spot but easy to hear!
Wood cock – Timid, but saw plenty when lamping rabbits and shot one only to lose it in the darkness...
Rabbit – Plenty of droppings indicating healthy population, but lamp shy and nervous.
Squirrels – Abundant!

Yesterday morning I was up at the crack of dawn. Seemingly before the squirrels! The little buggers evidently had an hours lie in, so today I too had a rest so as to be 'in sync'.
Quietly walking through the woods the noises of life were everywhere, mostly crows and little birds (Great tits, robins etc) also the odd kestrel, owl and woodpecker.
Prior to the recent cold snap, you only had to be still and sooner or later you'd hear a squirrel. Not of late however. The pesky beggars are there, but very jittery. Before, they were bold and seemingly oblivious to my presence, now they appear on edge and bolt for cover well before i'm in range. When you've eaten as many squirrels as my poor family has now, its often a relief to come back empty handed! But meat is meat and these guys are calling for me to up my game.
The tactics of the day were a blend of the usual slow, quiet walk mixed with hiding in brush and keeping dead still.
Then, I spied 2 playing 35-40 yards up a bank. Luckily here was fairly clear and open, often its a battle to thread the pellet through all the spindly twigs. I crouched and slowly approached.
They continued bounding around, but moved elsewhere.
Or not. A small female was hopping around in the leaves, she caught my scent and clung to the nearest trunk looking in my direction. I dropped to the knee. All I could make out was the head and neck. The TX200 MKIII took her down with ease. In the game bag she went.
On the way back home, I stayed vigilant, and spied 4-5 more but with no opportunities presented. I have found this on nearly all my hunts. It's almost as though these woodland Gods give you what you need but no more. My empty handed hunts most often occur when I have an animal hanging and waiting for the pot. Almost a “Tutt Tutt, Greedy boy”.

The Days Catch - Plus a previous one...

The Twins - TX200 MKII and MKIII