Stalking rabbits with an air-rifle: 10 top tips
Mat Manning shares 10 top tips to help airgun hunters
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 when you’re stalking rabbits with an air-rifle. 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.
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. (Read more on scopes for air rifles here.)
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. (Read more targets for garden airgunning.)
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. (Read our guide to the best camouflage jackets for airgunning.)
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.
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 stalking rabbits with an air-rifle, 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. (Read our guide to the best hunting knives.)