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General > A Winter Walk out with the Airgun and Ferrets
A Winter Walk out with the Airgun and Ferrets
By John Robson

The ground was crisp under foot with a bite in the wind, it could not be more perfect for the day ahead. We arrive all psyched up for a full days shooting and ferreting.


Two carrion crows overhead are first to appear, dropping into the plantation to our left. Today we will cover the south side first which includes a long walk on foot over the brash, up the cut and through the wood. The 1st sett is a big one on the bank side – 30+ holes in all. The jill is in but unfortunately decided to stay in for over an hour “I bet my mate with the new ferret finder is having a laugh at this moment”. Using the old school technique I pat the hole side and whistle down into a couple of the holes and then take a break to scan what,s going on around me. Then out of the blue comes a stoat and before it spots me it disappears into the sett ? My 1st thoughts are it may disturb the jill, I then think it may challenge the Jill ? Just then it runs out and disappears in seconds into the undergrowth. Another 5 minutes pass and the ferret appears, I grab her quickly and inspect her feet, she has a pair of fur boxing gloves on “looks like the breeding season continues right through the winter period” I decide to move on for a change of scenery. I then sat just inside the wood and disturbed what I thought was a pair of wrens but on close inspection was a pair of goldcrests which I have not seen for 20+ years, I take a minute and watch them in the tree and amongst the pine needles before moving on.


We disturb a woodcock on the way which darts down the side of the wall, my son lets me know its always around that area. The next spot is a clearing in the brash with a sett at the top and an excellent patch for pigeon shooting later in the day. We try the sett as it is one we have had no joy with in the past with the ferrets but some good success in the past with the airgun. Ten minutes pass and then we hear a rumbling on the right bankside and before I tip off my son we have 1 in the net, a doe of good size. The ferret follows it out peering from just inside the bolt hole. We load the sett with a second ferret to see if we can get another but after a further 30 minutes we decide to move on and cover more ground.


A pair of snipe take flight by the new pond in the dead end and fly towards the brow of the hill. The wood ahead is alive with rabbits living under the ground cover rather than in a burrow.The wood is an excellent place for getting camped in and waiting for some movement, so that is exactly what we did and within 15 minutes the 1st rabbit appeared within range and my mate scored with a head shot straight away. That was 2 in the bag and it was still early days !


In the cover we make sure to pull on the face masks and gloves to stop any reflection from the white bits being prominent from overhead or on the ground. Just then a single pigeon lands within range and after a few seconds my son hits it and it falls to the floor. We retrieve it and put it in the cover as we like to keep the ground clear of carrion that may spook the next flight in.


Lots of noise in the wood from the smaller birds – Chaff finches, Gold finches, Robin and Blue Tit as well as the odd tune from the blackbird.


We check out a new sett that at 1st we thought was a badger sett but as the weeks have progressed we confirmed it is home to rabbits. This one is on the back burner for today as we head on down the hill towards the wall. The next sett has been clear of rabbits from June of 2006 but is now residential again and within 10 minutes we have another in the bag from what we know as the bolt hole.After persisting for another 45 minutes we decide to take some time out at the top of the hill for a spot of lunch.


After lunch we move on towards the “T” Junction and head on up to the top brash to cover a few small setts on the edges but no luck today. The weather starts to turn and we can see the dark clouds over the landscape opposite blowing our way, the rain is persistent now so after making our way back towards the gate we decide to call it a day.Another good day ! and an eye opener to see so many different birds in a short period of time.

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