Rabbit shooting can be an effective method of control when the conditions, and crops, are right.
Rabbits tend to move into some crops more readily than others and here in Hampshire the best two are rape and maize.
That said just because these crops are present and attracting the attention of rabbits in big numbers doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a ‘bang up’!
For instance, on/off rain showers a day or two before the crop is harvested will often see rabbits migrate back to the comfort of dry burrows in the surrounding hedges.
On the other hand, if the summer has been hot with little rain on the run up to harvest then rabbits will be spread evenly throughout the crop.
This is when you can get out rabbit shooting and trim up a lot of bunnies – if you get your planning right.
For safety’s sake I only ever go rabbit shooting with one other person walking alongside the combine harvester, or two if a lot of rabbits are present. But no more than that.
For best results the farmer needs to cut the crop in strips or ‘land it’ once three or four of the headland strips have been done.
One Gun should walk alongside the combine until all the headland rows have been cut, shooting rabbits as they bolt for the hedgerow.
When the farmer starts cutting the field into strips, one person should stand at each end with a shotgun.
And if a big lot of rabbits are in the crop it’s well worth using long nets as well; in some places we often encircle the entire field with long nets to ensure nothing gets away.
The only other advice I would give is to only shoot with people you know and trust.
If you find a group of folk surrounding a field with Guns, then walk away from it, this is just an accident waiting to happen!