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Pest Control Diary: Back to the Bunnies

Pest Control Diary: Back to the Bunnies

It’s funny how things turn out; recently I wrote about a landowner who would rather let nature take care of itself, only intervening when things get out of hand. Or in this case with the rabbit population really out of control, and as I knew with every visit they would get harder to bag, as they’ve wised up quickly! It’s even hard snipping them at range with my 6mm BR, need I say more (the battle goes on)?

Hope springs

The best I can hope for is to keep them at the level they’re at now, while negotiations are going on to allow me on the railway embankments, so that I can attack their warrens. Once on, I may even pick up some more pest control working for the railway directly, ether along the line or at the stations, as there are always rats, mice and feral pigeons to control. Trouble is getting in, as 90% of these larger concerns tend to stick to the larger pest control companies! What they don’t realise is I pay the same insurance to cover for the same amount, I use the same products and methods but at a fraction of the cost, simply because I haven’t got the overheads.

So I have to work harder to secure a contract, as they look closely at me rather than the package on offer! When trying to gain new work don’t over sell yourself, stay focused on what you want out of it, don’t go promising all kinds of things on top to help secure a patch of ground you can call your own. The longer you can keep talking, even if you’ve been told no, gives you longer to show your personality and get the land owner thinking it could be his loss by not letting you on.

Many a time, both professionally and as a hobby, I’ve been turned down, only to get a call weeks later saying, could I help out with a problem? One other bit of advice is what may be a pest on one farm may not be a pest on another. For example on arable land a fox would be a free way of keeping the rabbits down. While where there are sheep they are definitely not welcomed, the one thing both farms agree on is no one wants the rabbits, as they are not fussy eaters - grass or grain, they’ll eat both.

Back to the bunnies

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Which brings me back to my rabbit problem. The amount of grazing hay and silage lost to the rabbits is probably enough to keep someone’s horses fed for a year, so something should have been done about it sooner. Trying to get on top and stay on top is a battle no matter what your quarry is and if they are getting hammered they will adapt with new tactics, you can bet on that!

So you have to change with them; believe me there is no such thing as a dumb animal or bird and no one place has compactly eradicated a particular species there may be somewhere.

However, if they’re no rabbits it’s probably due to other factors other than man and gun, but one thing’s for sure they will be back! So by keeping a close eye on what’s happening on the ground and nipping it in the bud, or as I am, trying to do get to the source (the warrens) so taking the fight to them to get the result we want. The time I am putting in is now preventing me from taking on other things or having personal time, that might seem like a dream come true but it can and does get too much. I have hit the rabbits so hard they are not coming out into the fields until well after dark, I have tried every colour of filter, on the lamp but nothing does the trick.

Too much at times

But I can’t afford to let the pressure off, like everything that’s fighting for survival, they have a long memory. So it would be pointless laying off for a time in the hope they will calm down a little. Two examples stick in my mind; we hit a magpie roost too hard years ago now I bet there’s only four or seven birds that uses it now. While at a small deer park the deer would take apples from the public but when they saw me would charge off and bunch up at the far end. It didn’t matter what I was wearing, whether I had a rifle or made eye contact; they knew!

But if you hit anything too hard, like I have with the rabbits, then the first sign of anyone, no matter how far, will be enough to make them take flight; so by getting on the job early takes the pressure off you and your quarry. One of the bonuses of spending so much time on the ground is that you get so familiar with your surroundings and instantly notice if something looks out of place. As I did looking from the farm yard along the fence line of the far field (a fox) sitting there without a care in the world some 300 yards out. All I had was my Bruno 22 rimmy! Marking its location I made my way round the yard not giving it a second glance and back up the farm lane where I could pick up and follow the fence line hopefully getting within range of my rifle.

Stalk it!

Keeping close to the fence I could cover the first half of the ground quickly, slowing down to stalk in until I came within 40 yards of what turned out to be a well grown vixen. Placing the cross hairs on her head I touched the trigger and it disappeared from view. After waiting a few minutes watching for any movement before making my way to where it laid I noticed a cub laying close by under a bush, again my rimmy did the trick. No doubt the lamb killers who’s earth I found when I first walked the boundary and a good bonus to the half dozen rabbits I had that afternoon.

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