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The Hunter's Chronicles - Monday 25th June 2012

My buddy Mawders and I, when not hunting, can often be found messaging each other discussing it and arranging the next opportunity. Such is the degree of our shared infatuation.
This evening had been scheduled in the diary, so come rain or shine, it had to happen. Upon his arrival just after 17:00, there was time for a chat over a coffee, then it was straight off to the fields.
Being in PCP rehab, he was to have the TX200 MK3 .177, I the Scorpion T10.
The customary zeroing session demonstrated the stunning accuracy of both rifles at 35 yards, then off we mooched following our usual pattern.

So early in the evening it was quite normal not to see much about, but as we emerged from behind a hedgerow, the number of targets soared. Just behind a gate a pigeon grazed. As I exclaimed "Pigeon", out of surprise more than to alert my hunting partner, I startled it as it had done me. It was as I apologised to Mawders and blamed my forceful pronunciation of 'P', a decent sized rabbit zipped across the gate by our left. Mawders squeaked in desperation. It was no use. The rabbit was long gone.

Ducks quacked. Pheasants ambled by.

Along a track, I spied another bunny. It was unaware of our presence. Not only a standing shot, but one complicated by the squares of the wire fence. I took the shot. The resounding crack betrayed a pellet strike, but as I arrived on scene all I found was a tuft of fur stuck to a nettle. I poked the barrel of the T10 into the undergrowth to find a sheer drop a good few feet within. Darn it!

Ever the optimist, Mawders staked out the bunnies and went prone by some young birch trees. I wandered into the trees that overlooked the pond hidden by the bushes.

My gamble paid off. Numerous pigeons flew in to roost. All landed deep in the foliage fouling my line of sight. Eventually, one landed in my kill zone and paid dearly with a heart and lung shot. He flapped once, then fell in a semi controlled dive crashing 5 feet away with a heavy thud. I pounced with such enthusiasm and elation that I failed to take into account the nettles I was thrusting my bare hand into.
His eyes were blinking and having fired the last shot in the mag I had to think quickly.
Wring its neck.
This I attempted, but being used to the sturdiness of a rabbits anatomy, I ripped his head straight off. That was a bit far and a regrettable mistake despite making good my intention.

Keen to capitalise on the pigeons, Mawders and I shifted positions to sit and watch the leaves rustle in the wind for 20 minutes...nothing. Poor Mawders.

The light was waning fast now and with it the hopes of the TX200 to even the scores.

We returned to a spot favoured by the bunnies.
I hung back. Mawders got excited and had to lie down. I watched from my vantage point and soon not just one, but two, then three bunnies loped into view. I buzzed them with my ranger gizmo - 56 yards. Hmm Mawders, you need to get crawling buddy...
For what seemed like an age, we waited. The two young kits reckless bounding in the short grass. The older rabbit watchful, but occasionally shifting closer to our position.
The TX200 cracked. All three unharmed bunnies raced to the hedgerow for cover.

Completely forgivable. I sincerely doubt I would have successfully made that shot, certainly not if .177 was alien to me and I were used to the drop of .22 pellets.

We called it a day shortly after.

But the night held a very special gift. As we chit chatted by the cars at my place. In my periphery I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a reflection of the car lights. When the car lights extinguished, the light remained... intriguing!

My curiosity demanded a closer inspection.

Ok, so the weirdo in the caravan is now reporting 'strange lights'. You'd be forgiven for zoning out and wandering off elsewhere. Yes, it was eery. Unearthly. But 100% natural.

Can you tell what it is yet?

I believe I encountered my very first glow worm! Never in my life, let alone the past 3 years of living in 'the wilds' have I been gifted such a fascinating experience as this. I wonder how many others can say they have witnessed such a phenomena.

The Hunter's Chronicles - Sunday 24th June 2012

I stared through the window in a state of abject indecision.
The image presented, for once, was one of paradise. Glorious rays of sunshine tumbled through the leaves of the blossoming trees to shimmer and dance on the woodland floor.
The outdoors begged me to venture forth. My legs equally implored me to remain seated.
If we had not suffered a run of abysmal weather, my legs would have firmly won and I may have spent the rest of the evening soaking in the tranquillity.
My stomach, growled for flesh. It reminded me of my as yet uninitiated acquisition. The BSA Scorpion T10 Tactical .177

Aside from a very quick chronograph session snuck between showers two days after her arrival, she has been thus far neglected. It was time to test her and the 11.1ft/lbs she was punching into those RWS Superdomes.

Off into the heart of pigeon land I strode. A long while spent eyeing up the giant swaying perches towering above. By pausing, listening and visually scanning for signs of life every few steps, I caught sight of a squirrel scurrying along a fallen trunk. I awaited its appearance the other end but when it was evident none would arrive I crept forward.

It's impossible to be completely silent in woodland. Nonetheless I managed to take this tree rat completely off guard. Within seconds the crosshairs were trained on her noggin and a 'phut' from the T10 bowled her over the side of the log. As I approached to inspect my prize, I could have ejected faeces from my rectum when she popped back up, a grotesque picture of mortal injury. Blood flowing from a seemingly fatal shot.  Serious 'Terminator' squirrels. Thankfully, the next round was chambered and already impacting the skull ensuring a swift demise and passage to the afterlife. Her mate, mortified, barked his disapproval at me from the branch of a neighbouring fir. His horror lasted but an instant as he too joined her on the banks of the Styx.

The BSA Scorpion T10 was evidently in fine fettle. Two close to medium range shots delivered with superb accuracy. Light and extremely 'pointable', target acquisition is fast and easily held steady. Despite having the older style magazines, reputedly troublesome, it cycles faultlessly and smoothly.

But more was to be asked.

Deeper into the temperate forest I went, eventually finding myself in a 'dead' zone of forgotten land as the woodland borders a cattle field. Here I discovered many treasures. The first, a tree favoured by crows. I scared them away upon approach, but so fond of it were they, that within minutes they had returned. By this time I was concealed behind a cotswold stone wall, perfectly positioned to scare the Bejesus out of one of them by hitting a branch that swang just in front of the pellet with impeccable timing. Just as well. Crow burgers will have to wait for another day.
The ground was so riddled with warrens and tunnels, traversing it was akin to navigating across a swiss cheese.
My next discovery was of a small patch of bracken that allowed a quiet concealed approach to the fence and a view of the hedgeline. Rabbits lined the way. Three at least were very happily digesting their 'five-a-day'. As I believed myself lacking in my rabbit RDA, I thought "I'll av one of them"...
So I did.

Someone appears to have neglected to have attached a colourful label for me to consult whether this product is organic/suitable for vegetarians/free from anthrax. Which is doubly frustrating as how will I know who to sue?!!
Still I'll live on the edge and cook it up anyway...

The wild, truly the worlds most fantastic 'supermarket'.

The Hunter's Chronicles - Monday 18th June 2012

As I type, the iron stench of rabbit blood rises to my nostrils from the keyboard. I hold my breath as I raise a biscuit to my mouth after its hot chocolate bath.
I can not complain. Nor do I wish to seem to.
It was something like a lust for blood that set my weary legs to purpose at 20:00 this evening. After drawing a blank Friday, you can add some shaken self belief into the pot of motivation.
If I am critical and honest, I was rusty. Too hurried, too rushed. I wasn't 'present', rather, I was already at the next likely spot of opportunity.
I did have one eye on the clock and the fading sun, but I was completely missing out on the experience of the hunt. Until I took steps to remedy that fault, I paid dearly. Rabbits hopped into cover unhurriedly, my presence comfortably noted. Crows flapped away almost begrudgingly. Pigeons sung their soothing song from the deep safety of their ivy covered nests. I was an alien. A disconnected being to be avoided and observed without ever presenting a threat.

It could almost be seen as though the Gods were both laughing at me and trying to send me a meaningful message when I almost literally stumbled upon this chap nonchalantly munching his greens.

Ravaged by myxomatosis he was blissfully unaware that anything untoward could be harbouring any ill intent in his vicinity. My 'LRF' read 7 yards. I'm sure he was closer. I aimed as though it were and missed, then realised 7 yards is the minimum read out. In spite of his diseased condition this one was not to die this day. I reloaded, and upon the click of the safety catch, he bounded off into the woods on my left. Ahh well.
My lesson had been learned with gratitude.

In the next field I was as focused as a Cat. My attention paid dividends as I utilised the double edged sword of the long grass to my advantage. As my hunting buddies know, there is a right hand curve in the hedge line and beyond it are normally one to two very nervous bunnies. The curve means that a right handed shooter such as myself inevitably presents his body before the business end of his rifle. But not today. The two ears were spotted, the eyes obscured by the abundant growth of his fodder.
A sharp crack of pellet on bone and the head disappeared. I reloaded and approached softly. He flipped once as I drew near with enough co-ordination to warrant another dose of lead in the back of the head between the ears.

I had designs for this little fellows insides.

I journeyed on quickly to my little natural hide and slit him 31 yards from it in the hopes of baiting the crows. Crows, that at this time of the day, were no where to be seen. My plan was further thwarted by the arrival of these fine beasts.

Thankfully they didn't hang around long, nor did they pay heed to my rabbit.

I waited. And waited. I used my phone to go on youtube and play crow calls from videos at the highest volume my phone would allow. But no corvid appeared to have heard.

Then my backside and right leg lost all feeling and sensation.

I exited my hidey hole, analysing the tree branches for any sign at all of an avian presence. When my gaze lowered, I found it was being returned. Correctly I guessed, from 25 yards away. The second standing shot of the evening, this one far more straight forward with satisfyingly conclusive results. A very loud smack, a quick hop and mid air curl and it was very evident that this little blighter was half way across the River Styx long before I got to his body.

To date, I have been most pleased with the performance of the RWS Superdomes .177 pellets gifted to me by a forum member. Thank you kindly Rob, they are devastating!
Other MK3 TX200 owners may like to note that RWS Superdomes do not appear to sit as tightly in the barrel as RWS Superfields and this seems to aid the excellent delivery of energy and velocity. I would honestly put them on a par with JSB exacts.

My 35 yard grouping compared very favourably against a BSA Superten .22. Granted the Superten owner was unaware of how seriously I was zeroing....


Until next time friends...

The Hunter's Chronicles - Saturday 2nd June 2012

"The best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry"

Steinbeck wrote a book on that theme. I think we all could. If I did, today would certainly feature as one of the illustrations.

With the intention of bagging some rabbits, I opted for the S200 with it's beefier .22 calibre. A text to the landowner, and I was off to the fields where life has surged forth in the sunny days I have been absent. I was death. A balance was to be exacted.

I entered the area in which I was to harvest. My first soul to be ushered to that place we are all journeying was waiting. He munched on the dewy wet fodder that surrounded him 56 yards down the slope. I approached with the trees and hedges behind me to compliment my camouflage. As I closed to a distance of what I guessed was 45 yards, he sensed my presence. It was time. I carefully raised the 'despatcher'. It was further than I had hoped and a standing shot, but I was confident. I lifted the crosshairs the required 1.5 mildots and sent the lead of destiny on its path. My aim was true and over the rabbit rolled.

It was after this that the plan went awry.

I traversed the landscape slowly, taking my time to drink in the environment that had so quickly galloped on without me. Grass much taller than I remembered. New faces in the undergrowth. Full grown poppies bobbed and waved lazily from their sea of green.
But no more rabbits wished to pay the ferryman.

Down from my position, in the field at the bottom of the valley, a fractious gathering of crows were strutting about, taking off, landing, all to a chorus of squawking and calling. I scanned them through the scope. Hmmm not just crows. Intermingled with the yobs of the sky were pigeons and ducks! A veritable target gallery.
There was no obvious approach that would conceal my presence. Whilst I perhaps couldn't prey on them feeding, I could pick off newcomers from a tree that was an obvious vantage and rest point for them. Conveniently, a hedgerow, elevated by the slope and gradient of the terrain lay 45 yards away. It was here I sat, shielded in front by grass now waist high and above by the hedge itself.  In minutes a jackdaw alighted on a branch. My despatcher was ready. 1.5 mildots hold over. The AA Diabolo was sent on its way. The slower flight time gifting the jackdaw a moment to twitch before an audible smack returned to my ears. He plummeted through the leaves and branches. His brothers and cousins soon lamented his passing with a renewed clamour of calls. As none were willing to venture to the tree from which he was downed, I crept closer.

Before I came to the foot of the tree, a deer startled me as much as I her. A magnificent beast that pranced effortlessly through the grass that I waded. She stopped to assess me, her fear abated, she melted away into the flora and fauna of a young patch of woodland.

I could find no trace of the jackdaw. I paced up and down the area he should have fallen, but vast swaths had now been swallowed in a mass of man high nettles and thorns. He could rest safely there...

I stopped to reflect on my next course of action. I waited just long enough for it to come to me.
A pigeon landed in the tree directly above and kindly presented a plump breast. It was a risk and challenge to thread the pellet, but I took my chance. He made to take off, but only his spirit flew skywards as his body failed him. A puff of soft downy feathers floated on the wind from the fortress of brambles into which he disappeared.

Honour bound, I resolved to rescue the downed airman.

I found him and successfully retrieved his remains.

The redeeming aspect of those thorns was that he had partly plucked himself.

The gain of that painful endeavour was an excellent hide.

I inspected the killer blow, expecting it to be a heart and lung shot. I was most surprised to only be able to find trauma to the cranium. His face, a mask, not unlike 'The Phantom of The Opera'. One side untouched, the other a mess replete with a red blood filled eye.

I was very pleased that despite the difficulties presented by the dancing limbs and tendrils of his perch as well as the angle, I had again managed to send him off with a clean, instant kill.

I laid him as a decoy 30 yards from my new found cubby hole. And awaited the next soul I knew to be expecting me.

A crow, then a jackdaw swooped low, around then away as they inspected the pigeon. The two too nervous to land.

I had almost given up hope when three figures waddled over the brow of the hillock to my left.

Water Chicken. A breed similar to the fabled Wild Chicken, but its pond loving cousin. Around here it is common knowledge that this quarry makes fine eating all year round if you can find them. Though abundant, they are most careful, retiring creatures. Reputedly they are best cooked 'crispy' and are complimented well by a variety of fruit sauces. As the one that wished to pass held its head up above the grass at a lazed 30 yards, I took my opportunity to put the reputation to the test. A head shot behind the eye, though my knife through the throat ensured it's demise as I wasn't satisfied by the pellets work.

I hung around for a time afterwards, but knew my work here was done. A most productive hunt. Almost a relief and a release. I wonder if I was not a bit trigger happy in light of my absence and this, my return. That may be, but what a pie I can make! Food for a week I'm sure.

I thank you souls, for your 'welcome back' parade, it was most unexpected.