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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Winter is a coming.........

We had been given a new permission right next to one of the farms we had done a few weeks previous, due to work commitments neither Dave or myself had had time to walk round and check were the rabbits were living.
 It was a very cold Saturday morning, 0° the car was registering, as we got out the Ranger our faces felt the chill of the air starting to bite.

With this cold front came dry weather though, possibility of sunshine to warm us up whilst looking round this new permission. The sun was rising, but the mist was not for going away.
As we looked round we found a wall that had quite a few holes in the bottom of it, rabbit faeces was scattered around with the odd bit of fur stuck to the wall were the rabbit had scuffed against when entering. On one side we laid a longnet, as the holes were only in the walls.........

.........and on the other we placed a longnet and also a handful of purse nets on the holes that had been made in the stony ground.

It was the females who would be used for this job, they are much smaller than males and are better suited for the tight gaps that are present within dry stone walling, we never force them into the wall, instead we lay them at it and let them use their noses, if theres a rabbit in there they will certainly find it!

With only 1 rabbit in the wall we follow one of the newly formed roadways down to another end of the land, we saw a few holes on the edge of the road but decided that they had not started using these yet.
You've heard the saying 'All the gear and no idea' well we had no idea were these rabbits were hiding!! Many times we had watched from higher up the hill, another farm we work, and watched the rabbits always heading downhill in this direction, but where did they go to once here. We decided to leave this area till we had done a spot of watching, and walking round without all the gear weighing us down.

So back up the hill to our usual farm

We found some new scattered holes, usually just a handful of nets and one ferret needed to check if anyone was home......
.........and as can be seen from this photo, as I clicked the camera a rabbit exited straight into a waiting purse net, Lee was quick off the mark to cover the hole with his foot whilst the new net was laid over it, you can see here we had nets waiting next to the holes, we sometimes do this if we have heard a lot of movement below ground, it saves on lost rabbits, it also means we can get away with not setting up a long net.

This wall has produced many times for us before, one hole in the foreground which leads into the wall and out the other side of it, but on this occassion we were left with our cold hands firmly stuck in our pockets!

A small warren which is getting bigger every time we visit gave us another chance to stand a chat, rabbits over here are getting harder to find, even though we can see lots running round when we first get there, they truly are the masters of evading us.

One mound that usually gives us a rabbit or two, we circle it with the longnet as the holes are many, sometimes 3 together that would be impossible to purse well enough for the nets to work 100%. Yes there may be a case of hole hopping but that is par for the course.

Here David is removing a rabbit from the net, I love it when a plan comes together!!

This warren has been void of rabbits the last few times we have ventured up here........

 .........but with fresh scrapings of earth here and there it would be rude not to give it a go!
Thankfully it a gave us another rabbit on the score sheet.

This metal drinking tank has produced in the past, but it was not to do the same again today!

 Even the 'Old Faithfull' fallen wall failed to produce for us today

We weren't giving up all hope yet though, and with one last warren to do before the warmth of the vehicle, we laid the purse nets and set the trap!

Lee was soon emptying a net, with Dave shouting out reassuring comments like 'Hurry up i'm fecking freezing' and the likes.
Not our best day by a long shot, but on a cold morning, 6 rabbits in the bag meant our ferrets would eat like kings tonight, and I know I would certainly be running a hot bath when I got home, not as cold as when it snows, but that ice chilled wind certainly gets into your bones!

Possibly a change in venues next week, lets see what phone calls come in this week.

Happy Hunting.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A change of scenery

 Todays job was on an equestrian farm, lots of rabbits were creating areas of instability.
The horses were in danger of leg breaks through falling into rabbit holes

 Large amounts of long nets had to be used due to the huge warrens

 Lee dispatching one of the rabbits

Not a huge amount from each burrow, what we found here was the ammount of rabbits seen entering the burrows was much more than what could be taken out in the small time available. These burrows were very deep, sometimes going off the 16foot scale of the Deben Ferret Finder.

here we have a fenceline warren, it only had 3 holes on Lee's side, but as can be seen on the long netted side, its a whole different story!!
Not a huge warren but a large ammount of holes in a small area.

 Lee's nets are not easily lost!! I think possibly alongside the great wall of China, these are possibly the only other man made item that can be seen from the moon!!

One end of the warren purse netted with a large amount of vibrant coloured nets, apologies to half of Yorkshire who lost there television signal due to  the reflection from these nets!!

Now this is a long warren, the red coloured net is 100 yards long, and it stretches the whole way down, with a few 10 & 25 yard nets criss-crossed in between to act as breakers.
If we'd have had a full team today*, we could have easily used up to 400 yards of long net and aroung 150 purse nets, that is the extent of this warren.

*see end of this post for 1 missing rabbiter!

 The bushes are great cover, and the amount of holes between each one is unbelievable!

After missing a rabbit through a hole we had missed, Lee lays another purse net

This is the far end of the warren, a large area of undergrowth made for a hectic hour with the ferrets, due to the short period of light at the moment, we gave ourselves about 2 hours to each warren, this included laying nets, another hour was taken gutting and burrying at the end.

 2 quickly caught and dispatched rabbits, note how my longnet has a very baggy bottom (ahem!!) this is so that we get a good cover over varying land lie.

A nasty bramble bush gave me a few scratches during the day!

The nettles still havent died back yet, in the midst of winter we will revisit this patch and hopefully with a full team take a few more rabbits out. Of course this was where the majority of the rabbits could be found, getting at them was a different story, I maybe need a scythe next time!

End of day shot, 21 rabbits, a nice result and a very pleased owner, rabbit pies promised to him as a thankyou for the job, these are very fat, healthy rabbits with a large fat deposit inside, we may be in for a bad winter.......again!!!

 And just a few final shots to prove that I dont just stand behind a camera!

The soil was lovely to dig here, just sandy soil for around 3 feet........

.........with a rabbit at the bottom!

Same here too, a fantastic day out, with great weather for the time of year. a good catch of rabbits with only one lost, a great result for a short day.

And as a final note, i'd just like to congratulate one of our rabbiters, David, or Bountyhunter as he is known, is the proud Father to his second boy Tommy Lucas who was born on the 14th November at 9.30pm, he weighed in at a grand 9lb 10oz. It was strange not having you there yesterday Dave, but I know from experience, you never get these times back, enjoy some baby time........and i'll let you know when the next outing is booked!!

Thanks also to Lee for allowing me to help him on some cracking land, lets hope theres a next time.

Happy Hunting.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Its been a long time coming!!

 It was a beautiful morning when I set off to Dave's, and the forecast was to stay the same all day, the mist rested in the valley whilst Pendle Hill stood on tip-toes to look through and the lovely clear sky.

This was one of last years kits going into her very first warren, she was a little daunted by it but performed brilliantly all the same.........

..........with her very first rabbit in the net!

Excuse the photos, my camera has finally given up the ghost, after years of abusing it in the field the LCD screen has stopped working, i'm now using the old fashioned "looking through the viewfinder!"

This set here runs alongside and through the wall, we've had many fabulous catches were the wall was alive with the tip tapping of the rabbits paws

After a few minutes of the ferret not showing its time for a bit of detection.........

..........and then a bit of digging, with a lovely rabbit stuck tight in a stop end

We knew we weren't going to get a huge bag today, but most of the warrens produced one or two healthy rabbits, with the weather as it was, I would have been happy to just being outside!

The tyre tracks give it away, walking is very old fashioned ha ha, also, whilst driving round the fields we find many knew workings and single holers to give the youngsters a bit of a workout

This is a large warren, with a few mid air leapers out the side of the hill, when you see the amount of rocks in the soil, it always amazes me that a rabbit can even dig it!!

Here we can see the workings that just seem to eject from the side of the hill

Another small warren, the large yellow net is a 'poke' net, we used it here as there are three holes that all exit out of one, using purse nets would be messy and a greater chance of tangling.

A lot of holes spread out over a wide area is always best delt with a long net or three, this area includes a collapsed wall that the rabbits usually can't resist.

you can just see Dave at the far end of this warren, it has produced quite a few rabbits here in the past, but today wasn't going to be one of those days

This metal tank has produced a few in the past too, but again, not today.......the buggers were eluding us!

Now this warren on the other hand gave us four cracking rabbits, they were flying straight out of the holes.......

......except for this one that had a ferret firmly chomping on its arse!!

The end of day tally was a respectable ten rabbits, with no losses.....which makes a change!!

And finally, this is a picture of this years kits devouring one of the rabbits we caught today, we are now back up to a full team of workers for the next few years, one of the males here will be vasectomised and used to bring the Jills out of season over the next few years, that should save a pretty penny on getting the females jabbed.