BROCOCK AND MTC OPTICS HUNTING CONSULTANT RICHARD SAUNDERS SETS AN AMBUSH WITH THE VIPER PRO
At last its spring and down here in Berkshire at least, the sun has put in a welcome appearance after what seems like weeks of wind and rain. So much so in fact, that I’ve just returned from my first proper ambushing session of the year.
With the clocks going forward, there was just enough time for me to finish work, grab my gear and head down to my nearest permission. It’s a huge free-range egg farm and throughout the winter I spend at least one night a week shooting rats with night vision gear.
GRAB YOUR GEAR
However, the surrounding fields are also home to several colonies of rabbits that have a habit of digging holes around the edge of the chicken enclosures. As a result, the potential for the ground to give way and provide access to a fox cannot be tolerated so, every now and then, I shift focus to target the rabbits.
Ambushing is not only one of my favourite tactics – perhaps it has something to with the fact that it involves laying down – its also one of my most productive. Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge of stalking rabbits, but thanks to thousands of years evolving as something just about everything else wants to eat, rabbits usually have the upper hand.
So, my plan was to pick a promising spot and lie up with my Brocock Commander HiLite and wait for the bunnies to put in an appearance. If that sounds easy, that’s because it really is.
Brocock Commander HiLite and MTC Optics Viper Pro 3-18×50
Fitting a bipod to the picatinny rail means you can exploit the Commander’s accuracy to the max when ambushing rabbits
GETTING INTO POSITION
Most rabbits are used to seeing people from a distance – farm workers, dog walkers and the like – so I don’t go to great pains to dodge from bush to bush as I make my approach. Instead I walk slowly and casually towards any rabbits I can see, or where I expect them to appear.
My theory is that I’d rather they disappear into their holes unalarmed but to be on the safe side as it means they are more likely to re-appear when they think the coast is clear. If I try and creep up and get spotted from 50 yards away, they’ll panic and won’t come out for the rest of the day.
So it was this evening. I could see three or four sunning themselves along a high banked hedgerow from a couple of hundred yards away. As I walked through the gate and along the edge of the field, I could see them from the corner of my eye as they hopped unhurriedly into the undergrowth.
There was just a hint of a breeze, and I made my way with it in my face as I settled 25 yards in front of the bank, a position that would give me a reasonable arc of fire. I checked the parallax and magnification on my MTC Viper Pro 3-18×50 scope and huddled behind the Commander on its tripod, bringing it to my shoulder a few times to make sure it wouldn’t snag on any weeds or my clothing.
LOCKED AND LOADED
The scrubby grass and weeds provided little in the way of cover, but I was confident my camouflage clothing, low position and slow movements would provide all the concealment I needed, and a face veil, cap and gloves made sure my pale skin wouldn’t give me away.
With those preparations made, there was nothing to do but wait for the rabbits to fulfil their side of the bargain. Though dry, the ground was cool beneath me, but the late afternoon sun was warm on my back.
I wriggled a little to get comfortable, all the familiar aches and discomforts that are part and parcel of ambushing coming back to me, and watched the shadows inch along the field as the sun gave up for the day.
The insects buzzed and my eye was forever tormented by flashes of movement in the hedgerow that turned out to be birds. At last, a rabbit materialised from the bushes – hopping onto the edge of the field, sniffing the air to check the coast was clear.
It was only a few yards to the left of directly in front of me, a full-grown adult. I froze for a moment or two, not wanting to spook what was likely to be my only chance of the short session, and the rabbit visibly relaxed, dropping its nose to the ground and conveniently turning sideways to me.
10-shot magazine locates easily in the breech and delivers pellets faultlessly
25 metre shots are a formality for the Commander and MTC Viper Pro combination
TIME FOR ACTION
I lifted the butt of the Commander to my shoulder. The rabbit looked enormous in the cross-hairs of the Viper Pro on 12x magnification. The safety catch is located just forward of the trigger, making it easy to switch off with a minimum of movement. However, the rabbit must have sensed something as it raised its head, suddenly alarmed. The movement presented me with a classic side-on profile and I placed the crosshair just behind the rabbit’s eye, held my breath, noting the minute movement caused by my beating heart, and squeezed the trigger.
Endless hours on the range zeroing the Commander and getting to know its characteristics paid off as the rabbit collapsed on its side, splaying its legs out straight and spreading its toes, dead from the moment the .177 pellet struck.
I waited another 15 or so minutes to see if any more rabbits would appear but somehow knew they wouldn’t. And so it turned out to be. I got up off the ground, stretching to relieve an aching back, and collected my rabbit before heading back to the car in the last of the day’s sunlight.