Andy Beattie teamed up with Sheila Crompton for a day's ferreting in Mobberly, Cheshire, on June 21st 2004. Andy gives his account of hunting with ferrets, lurchers and long nets.
I picked Sheila up from Bolton and we drove down to Cheshire. I took my air rifle, two of my poley jills, Bandito and Jilly, and my lurcher Flash. Sheila took her air rifle and five ferrets but only worked two, Arwen and Flower, plus her lurcher pup Bryn.
We arrived at 12pm and started off by making our acquaintance with the landowever. After a pot of tea we were shown around the land to where the buries were and we tried to decide a line of attack. We decided to start on the bury close to the road. Two ferrets were introduced into the bury, Arwen and Flower. We set the long net along the fence on the opposite side of the drive from the hedgerow we were ferreting. Almost as soon as the ferrets were entered we got a rabbit to bolt from the bury but it shot out and ran down the drive and totally avoided the long net. Unfortunately, the lurchers were on my side of the hedgerow and didn't see a thing.
Ferrets and lurchers: 0
After a minute or two another bolted, went straight across the drive and into the long net.
Ferreters and lurchers: 1
Arwen was still underground and was located 3ft deep under the drive so we decided to put Bandito in to see if she could shift her. After about three minutes they were both out and both were wearing rabbit fur on their claws.
Ferreters and lurchers: 1
We moved on up the drive and netted a large bury on a banking. Bandito and Jilly went to see if anyone was at home. A few thumps and a squeal - Jilly bolted a young rabbit. The squeal got Flash running from the end of the bury I was working with Bandito to see what the fuss was. The rabbit slipped the net and ran up the bank but was brought back a couple of seconds later live-to-hand by Flash.
Ferreters and lurchers: 2
The next bury we tried was empty. We had been watching the land all the time we were there and had noticed that only young rabbits were being bolted, and the rest were out feeding, so we changed our tactics. We put the ferrets and nets back in the car and walked the land with our rifles and lurchers. Every time we entered a field, we saw rabbits running for cover so figured an ambush was the call of the day. We sat in a field that had a little cover (a few remaining potato plants that had grown from spuds left in the ground after last year's harvest). Sheila took position with Bryn beside her. I walked across the field and took up my position with Flash. After a couple of minutes, a large rabbit returned to the field. Placed an Eley Wasp between the eye and ear at 35-40 yards. Flash set off in the direction of the 'thwack' but because the rabbit had keeled over without a kick, she didn't see it and went straight past it, putting the rest of the rabbits to ground. So I collected the bunny and sat on the other side of the field.
Ferreters and lurchers: 3
Then it was the waiting game again...
I spotted a pair of tiny ears just poking out of a ditch then, all of a sudden, there was a tiny head under them. I raised my rifle, took aim, and pierced its ear. The bunny ducked and moved along the ditch then disappered into the hedge.
After nearly half an hour my legs were getting stiff so I got up and walked back across the field. A rabbit had returned to feed. I stalked within range and took my shot at 40-45 yards. Thwack! It hit home I ran to collect it. Another perfect head shot.
Ferreters and lurchers: 4
As we returned to the car, we figured out our best approach for each field. We'll get them on our next visit.