Simon goes Ferreting to evict the local rabbits from some old Suffolk Oaks
Evicting stubborn rabbits from Oak trees would either be straightforward or the hardest few hours’ ferreting of the year, and I was armed with just my ageing lurcher Millie, some over-summered ferrets and a few long-nets.
Rabbits aren’t stupid, and they haven’t bred survivors for more than 900 years by pure chance; their DNA is ingrained with an unnerving ability to know instinctively where to build a fortress-like home. And one problem with ferreting trees in the middle of a large field is that the area may not necessarily be their main residence; it may be just a safe sanctuary halfway between a food source and their home.
As this was my first outing for a while, I fitted my ferret finder with new batteries – both in the receiver and the transmitter collars. Once I had fixed the collars on the ferrets, which were keeping cool in an air-conditioned carrying box, I set about encircling the warren with a few small stop-nets joined together. I soon had the area around the large tree surrounded by a sea of orange-and-yellow netting. One hole stuck out among the roots, so I also placed a purse-net, just in case.
This time-honoured method of ferreting is hard to beat. Being at one with nature, morphing into one’s surroundings and pitting one’s wits against one of Mother Nature’s greatest survivors.
After quickly checking that their collars were switched on, I placed a solitary albino under the roots and stood back. Minutes passed without movement, but not wanting to dive in prematurely with a spade, I entered a smallish sandy jill ferret to help out. This did the trick, as almost immediately a bolting rabbit careered into the bright yellow net.