How to stalk rabbits with an air rifle

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Mat Manning shares 10 top tips to help airgun hunters bag more bunnies

Head out at dusk, make the most of natural cover and move with stealth if you want to get wily rabbits in your sights.

1. Think about scent

Rabbits have a great sense of smell, and odours from the human world are one of the most likely things to blow your cover. Keep strong-smelling detergents away from your hunting gear and give the aftershave a miss if you’re planning to head out shooting.

2. Be light on your feet

Apart from being able to hear the slightest sound, rabbits are also able to detect vibrations through the ground. Light footfalls not only reduce noise, but also cut down on vibrations that might alert your quarry to your approach.

3. Take the right route

Try to choose a route that swings the odds in your favour as you make your way around the fields. It’s helpful if you can keep the wind in your face as it will carry scent and sound away from your quarry, and avoid noisy clanging gates if you can.

4. Exploit the magic hour

Rabbits tend to venture above ground in good numbers during the last hour or so of daylight, especially during the summer. This is a prime time to be out stalking the fields.

Gateways can make great stalking windows and can also be used as a rest if you shoot a recoilless airgun like the Walther Rotex RM8 UC

5. Use the right optics

Targeting rabbits during dusk requires optics that produce a good sight picture in low light levels. Telescopic sights with a large objective lens, like the 3-9×50 Richter Optik scope pictured here, tend to have good light transmission.

6. Hone your marksmanship

Practising from the stability of a bench is great for zeroing and will boost your confidence, but it’s not a luxury you’ll be able to enjoy in the field. Brush up on your kneeling and standing shots and the practice will pay off when chances arise.

7. Make the most of natural cover

Although rabbits don’t have the best eyesight, they will run for cover if they see a human silhouette approaching on the skyline. Take advantage of slopes and banks to keep you concealed, and stay close to hedgerows and other natural cover if you can.

8. Windows of opportunity

Gateways and gaps along hedgerows create useful windows that can sometimes enable you to get shots at your quarry without the usual rigours of stalking within range. Always check that the shot is safe and make sure that you have permission to shoot on the opposite side before you pull the trigger.

A silenced airgun like the Walther Rotex RM8 UC coupled with a scope with good low-light performance makes for a great rabbiting combo

9. Keep it quiet

It is often possible to shoot several rabbits from one field, and sometimes from a single group. Using an airgun with a sound suppressor, like the Walther Rotex RM8 UC Mat is using here, will cut down on disturbance and boost your chances of adding to the bag.

10. Stay sharp with a pocket knife

It is important to travel light when hunting on the move, but a small, sharp knife is a useful piece of kit to carry. Having a knife to hand means you can gut rabbits in the field at the end of the session rather than having to do the job at home.


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Posted in Features, September Shooting Special

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