Ed Cook shines a light on lamping and the elements needed to be successful

Lamping is a simple procedure of shining a light around an area until a rabbit (or rat) is spotted, and the dog is then sent to get it. Lamping with a dog is best done on foot, as it causes minimal disturbance and damage, and often allows a good chance to get near the quarry. A dog is either walked at heel until given the command to go or kept on a slip lead. Craig Martin, a colleague who lives on the Hebrides, works his lurcher, Fenn, in a different way; she hunts ‘free range’ at night and will bring rabbits back from out of the darkness. He also lamps her in the traditional sense and has good yields. The right weather can also help; a drizzly, windy night with little moon can prove very effective.

What is lamping – do you use lights or thermal imagers?

Lamping does ‘what it says on the tin’. You shine a light on proceedings – lamp an area, turn it off and walk 100yd or so and try again until a rabbit appears. An alternative method is to use a thermal imager until a rabbit is spotted and then ‘lamp it up’ for the dog to see. Depending on the dog’s breeding (remember a lurcher is a hybrid), a dog can take to lamping quickly, while others are a bit slower to look to the beam. My preference for lamping is a collie cross for rabbiting. A collie-cross greyhound works well after dark in my neck of the woods in Hampshire.

Lamping with lurchers has always been a form of rabbit control that I have been fond of. I have many good memories of being out late at night in pursuit of quarry. There are many who still lamp their dogs on the fringes of legality but such activities are likely to end in prosecution and confiscation of the dogs. While I have always been opposed to the hunting ban and would love to see it repealed, I think it unlikely. So, as it stands, rabbits and rats are the only legal quarry.

Lamping dog breeds

Some collie crosses will stalk slowly up a beam towards an illuminated rabbit, and I like this approach, providing it doesn’t take too long. Other dogs will go straight up the beam like a missile homing in on a target; and there are those that only appear in the beam as they strike. Each dog is different and has its own technique that works for it. Collie crosses also possess a good sense of self-preservation, meaning they won’t put themselves in a position that could endanger or hurt them. I like this as it sees them to old bones without injuries and allows them to become more proficient at their job.

night vision versus the lamp

Night vision versus the lamp

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Rum and Thawn were two lurchers I worked with that excelled at lamping. Both were of similar breeding but had very different approaches to the lamped rabbit, but both had long careers and were very effective at night. Strangely, my lurchers Red and Riot, which were my best ferreting dogs, never excelled at lamping. That said, a good ferreting dog is far more important to a professional ‘bunny basher’.