View Full Version : My first real hunt

April 15, 2006, 10:55 PM
So today I went hunting for the first time. I've shot a few things before, but they were opportunities that just presented themselves when I happened to have a gun with me. This time, I went out with the sole intention of shooting rabbits. You see, we're overrun with them. So I dressed myself in whatever camo I could find; a Mossy Oak Breakup long sleeved tshirt and some 'fashion camo' pajama pants. I wrapped my .22 with some camo net and also draped some over my head. Yes, I looked ridiculous.

Onward. The easy part is that I know where the critters eat, as my dog finds massive amounts of droppings there, and it's a nice clearing surrounded by trees with little or no undergrowth. I checked weather.com to see when the sun sets, looks like 8:27pm today, so I headed out at 7:45 and found a nice spot next to a tree to lay down. After waiting for about 15 minutes, I realized a breeze was picking up from behind me, so I moved farther away from the clearing and into a denser part on some leaves, out from between the wind and where I expected the critters to show. This spot was very nice and soft, and let me tuck myself into the leaves very well, but I soon found out that I was making way too much noise with even the slightest movements. I moved again, this time on a bare spot a few yards away. After realizing this spot was too low, I checked my watch, 8:20. At this time, I decided to stay put as it was getting darker and I knew the buggers would be out soon. Soon, I noticed the ground was very cold in this spot, and with the cold breeze on my back, I wasn't sure how long I could hold out here. Now, I don't know about you guys, but I can't lay prone and hold my head up off the ground for half an hour, especially with glasses, I can't just tilt my eyeballs up and look through my eyebrows, because there's no lense there to see through. So I lay my head down on the ground between my arms as I'm holding my rifle, slowly lifting it every minute or so to check for rabbit ears. Nothing. Man, between the cold soggy ground and the chilly breeze, I was freezing, and soon I started to shiver. I looked at my watch again, 8:30 (don't remember exactly), and I resolve to stay a bit longer. After a while, I decide I've had enough, and I lift myself slowly to make one last check.

About 50 yards away, I see this little spot that's a bit darker than the dry grass, and I shuffled a bit to turn my rifle that way and check it through my scope. As I lay there staring at it, it took me a while to notice that it was indeed moving. It was slowly, calmly eating grass; so slowly, in fact, that in the twilight I had trouble seeing it was a rabbit. Naturally, I started to shake as I repositioned myself into a comfy position to take my shot. To calm myself, I watched for a minute or two as it grazed away, then I flicked off the safety. With the crosshairs just behind his eyes and below his ears, I pulled the trigger. You know what they say about the loudest sound in a gunfight, right? Well, this click was deafening alright. I check to see if Buggs noticed, no, he's still eating, only looking up once in a while. I figured it was a dud; these Blazers are accurate in my gun, but I get a dud or two in a box of 500. So I work the slide back as quietly as I could, every sound makes me cringe, but as I near the end of the pull, the dud still hasn't fallen out. Great. I try to use my fingernail to extract the round, but I'm having way too much trouble. Finally, I drop the mag and use both index fingers successfully. After quietly sliding the mag back in and working the bolt agonizingly forward, I check the scope. No rabbit. You may be able to guess how I felt at this time.

I decided to check around to see if it went behind a tree or the tank a few feet to the right before giving up. To do that, I crawl forward and to the left a few feet, with my rifle in one hand and my homemade bipod in the other. I take a peek, and sure enough, dinner is behind the tank. After more crawling, and at one time forgetting my bipod a few feet behind me, I finally have a clear shot. Using my foot to drag the bipod within reach, I again thought I gave myself away. Not quite, but this time he was getting cautious and sitting upright to check things out for sure. With the bipod under my rifle, I steadied myself and tried to regain my calm before pulling the trigger. Click. "What the hell?" I ask myself. Once again I slide the bolt back and peak inside, sure enough, in my care to quietly put the mag back, I hadn't seated it properly and the bolt simply overran the top round. Pushing the mag firmly into place, I brought the bolt forward once again, this time feeling it strip the round off and into the chamber. Now, once again I check my quary, and it seems to be calm again, so I don't need to rush. Take a few deep breaths, count to ten. I'm shaking. Doubts start running through my mind; what if I only injur it? Then, I pull up my courage, tense every chilled muscle in my body and keep myself steady while lining up the crosshairs. This time, the rabbit flew backwards from the head shot and twitched for a few seconds. By the time I sprinted that distance (I later paced out 60 yards) I had shed various camo nets, casings, rounds, a bipod, and my breath to arrive at the most difficult shot, the "make sure it's dead" shot. I was now shaking tremendously, from being cold and holding back shivers for 15 minutes, from the adrenaline rush of the year, and from a record-breaking sprint after nearly an hour of almost perfect stillness. It was over, and what a rush.

Art Eatman
April 16, 2006, 11:10 AM
:) Lots of learning experience there. And, natch, lots of fun.

It gets easier as you work out what to tote and what to leave behind, but the fun is always there.


Rich Lucibella
April 16, 2006, 11:17 AM
Great report, there, sask! I do mean GREAT!

There is nothing I value more on this forum than an honest hunter. Honest hunters learn from their experiences at an extraordinary rate.

Now to the topic:
Why do you need to be prone as opposed to sitting on something waterproof and slightly elevated?
For the hardest hitting, most accurate .22's in the world, I recommend Winchester XLR22PP. These are their .22 Power Points. Unfortunately, they've disappeared as the company is moving its rimfire factory and will probably not be seen on the shelves again till summer

April 16, 2006, 01:19 PM
@Rich: Thanks, I was mostly excited to relate the story :) I shoot prone for accuracy, as I can't seem to hit crap with a scope if I'm not on a bipod or bag or something. Now with irons it's different; I don't have a problem hitting anything, but the range naturally isn't as good. In this case, I couldn't even see the rabbit without the scope. Plus, I think it's a lot easier to hide when low. With this location, I was basically forced to have the sunset at my back, and sitting would have silhouetted me against it (not much undergrowth). As for a pad to lay on, I found an piece of sponge, the kind that goes under carpet floors, but it didn't dry before the big event. I would have liked to use it because of it's light weight and mottled colors which are almost camo.

Thanks for the ammo suggestion, I'll have to try a box or two.


April 16, 2006, 01:56 PM
Good report! Glad you got your wabbit. :)

I'm no rabbit hunting expert (I hunt deer), but I think that these suggestions will work for rabbit and for deer hunting:

1. Take warmer clothing next time. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. You can always stuff an extra jacket and gloves into your backpack if you get too hot.

2. Don't worry so much about finding the perfect spot when still-hunting. You'll never find it, and the movement and noise associated with moving to a "better" spot is usually not worth it. Pick a spot, stay there, and don't move. And don't worry about the camo too much. Camo helps (I use it), but IMHO, staying still and not making noise are more important.

3. The prone position is very stable. But it is no fun to be in for an extended period of time, especially in the field. Instead, use a sitting position, with your back up against a tree, or sit in front of bushes or something that will break up your outline. You can take advantage of natural cover that way, and use a tree limb as a rest, or slide into a prone position if necessary.

4. Practice field positions while you are shooting at the range. This is the only way you'll get better at shooting from the sitting/squatting/standing positions. Shooting from sandbags and a rest will make you a great shot....when you have sandbags and a rest available.

5. If you shoot an animal, and it doesn't die on the spot, don't start running after it right away. You'll never catch a running animal, and you'll only make it run faster and farther. If the animal is moving away, stay put, take a deep breath, and shoot it again.

Good luck!

April 16, 2006, 03:40 PM
Fremmer has said it nearly all, I would add only one thing, get a pair of sticks or canes about 1/2 to 3/4" thick about 3 1/2 feet long get an old hoover belt or a good big elastic and wind round them about 5" from one end, spread them a couple of feet apart at the long end sit behind them and rest the back of your hand in the short V, rest forend of your rifle on your hand, and see how it is for height when your sitting, adjust the length to be comfortable when you sit back against a tree or post and you will find this a lot more useful for shooting rabbits and stuff than a bipod and it costs nothing. It will give you confidence to start shooting the odd one offhand too. You can make another pair to suit when your standing as well if you want. I made my last pair out of a couple of garden poles from the local garden center which are green plastic coverd steel tubes about 5/8" diameter and they work great.
It s great to read a good account of hunting like yours I really enjoyed it, let us know how you get on next go.

April 16, 2006, 09:49 PM
Carpet padding will always draw moisture and be damp to wet, to sit, kneel or lie on. A better but still cheap alternative would be one of the old style oilskin tablecloth covers available from WalMart or K-M-art. You could probably glue it to the carpet padding if you need a bit of cushioning.

Sounds like a great first hunt. Work on that sitting and kneeling position though, because you are bound to run in to situations where there is a very slight rise in front of you that will hide the target. Or, what if the grass was 4 inches longer?

Keep at it. You're going to do great.

April 17, 2006, 12:29 AM
Thanks for the awesome suggestions guys. Yeah, when that grass gets about 2 feet tall, I think a sitting position will be perfect (sitting on the ground, with elbows on my knees).

As for that foam, the only reason it was wet is that it was sitting in the rain the night before just like the ground:o After drying out by now, I think it'll work. But speaking of oilcloth, I may just go cheap and glue some black garbage bag on the underside to stop moisture.

April 17, 2006, 01:35 AM
Great job and congratulations!

In all honestly, after reading what you said about fashion cammo pajammas and the camo net, I could already see you having an ending involving the Easter bunny buying it... Maybe next year? ;)

Wolfe... (And then I saw it, just above the bushes... Sticking out was the very tip of a large, pink ear...)

April 17, 2006, 03:41 PM
I enjoyed that too; thanks for sharing. Good patience and stealth pays off. Is this how Death from Afar got his start as a bunny mass-murderer? One wonders.... :p

April 18, 2006, 08:56 AM
A very entertaining read! Congrats on getting the bunny...

April 21, 2006, 09:15 PM
Sounds good man. for your next challenge try walking along fencelines shoot the bunnies that jump.