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Ferreting in the Summertime

Summer ferreting is a world away from its wintertime cousin. On a day in June, my friend Sooty and I were asked to tackle some land that, until recently, had only a handful of rabbits, but their numbers had since multiplied.

Hormonal ferrets behave completely differently from how they do when it’s cold and the trees are bare. To try to counteract this, I was working a neutered hob and a brace of older jill ferrets that rarely come into season any more. I had one eye on the weather forecast and, with an early start, thought we should be okay. I had to keep a careful eye on the ferrets, as the temperature on top of the warren isn’t necessarily the same as it is underground.

The first port of call was the ha-ha. Built to keep the grazing beasts out of the garden, it also proved to be a perfect spot for a rabbit warren. A few tunnels that plummeted to great depths had been reopened. It couldn’t have been in a worse location, right in front of the house. I surrounded it with a long-net and had my dog, Bella, marshalling proceedings in between. I slipped my trio of eager ferrets inside the pipes, picked up my flask and sat down. Rabbits from this warren never bolt.

A little while later, I took out the bright orange ferret finder to scan the ground and had my first dig of the day. I pounded away at the ground, chipping away inch by inch towards my ferrets. Beneath the ground, it must have sounded to the ferrets like King Kong stamping his feet. The reverberation unsettled two of them and they resurfaced to be boxed up, but one stuck to its task as if it were the middle of winter. I finally broke through after what felt like a lifetime, to find a jill and one dead rabbit.