Rook and Rabbit Shooting

The following information comes from Practical Rifle Shooting by Walter Winans. Practical Rifle Shooting is also available to purchase in print.

 Blue Hare Driving.

Blue hare drives, in Scotland, may afford good practice for rook rifles. Hares always prefer to run uphill. The beaters, therefore, walk the lower grounds, and the guns are lined on the ridges. Men usually carry shot-guns on these drives, but the lolloping progress of an old blue hare, and his way of taking an occasional look round while he sits up on his hind legs, always makes me feel that the shot-gun is too easy a weapon to use upon him. He is a good mark for a rook rifle, however, and if the shooter uses ordinary caution in not firing towards the line of beaters there is not much danger in the use of a rifle. The great point is to use small charges, and not to use a powerful rifle.

Rook Shooting.

Shooting rooks with a rifle is good enough practice, but even with the weakest charge and weapons of the smallest calibre, I am never free of fears as to where a bullet may fall. Any of the small rifles, mentioned in the opening chapter as suitable for a beginner, are suitable for rook shooting, and the Lyman peep hind-sight is particularly good in this kind of shooting. The old birds usually sail round and round, well up in the air. They afford good practice for flying shots.

Rabbit Shooting.

Rabbits are the only kind of living animal at which most people are likely to have an opportunity of using a rifle, unless it be an odd day’s shooting at the rooks. And as the poor rabbit is called vermin, which has to be “kept down,” he is certainly better off when stalked by a good rifle shot than when slowly strangling to death in a snare, or suffering for hours with a torn and broken leg in a trap. By the way, I have seen it recommended in a newspaper to wrap a few strands of copper wire round the lower part of the jaws of a steel trap, so that it cannot quite close when sprung, and holds, without breaking, a rabbit’s leg, Why cannot there be some way to strangle him at once in a snare, instead of letting him sit there with bloodshot eyes staring out of his head as he slowly suffocates to death.

When shooting rabbits with a rifle, always use a weapon which will kill outright. This requires thought on two points. Too small a calibre, means that the rabbit is not killed outright unless he happens to be hit in the brain. On the other hand, rabbits are usually shot in localities where a large calibre or heavy charge may be dangerous, should a bullet go astray or glance aside from a stone. A rabbit struck by a bullet of insufficient size will go off and die slowly; and even if hit through the heart, he can usually wriggle into a hole.

The whole object of a shooter should be to kill his game as rapidly and painlessly as possible, whatever its size and kind. It should be a rule never to go on till you have accounted for what you have shot at, as dead, or gone away clean missed. A wounded animal ought always to be followed up and killed if possible. Unfortunately it is only too common to hear men say, “Let’s get on! There’s no use in looking any longer!” when the finding of a wounded animal or bird proves at all troublesome.

A .22 cal., even when shooting the long cartridge, is not quite big enough to make sure of killing a rabbit outright. I prefer a larger calibre with a small charge and a hollow bullet. The small charge, of course, makes the judging of distance more difficult; but this is good practice, and it is far better to miss a few shots than to wound without killing.

The .22 automatic Winchester is perhaps an admissible weapon against rabbits, as, if quick, one can give a wounded animal a second shot before he can wriggle away into his hole. Given such ground as a deer forest, where flying bullets would not be dangerous, it would be pretty practice to ferret rabbits and shoot them with this weapon as they bolted from their holes.

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Rook and Rabbit Shooting - Practical Rifle Shooting  - Winans

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