At the heart of ferreting is the relationship between the ferreter, his dogs and his ferrets, and the effort that each puts in.
When I met Ryan, a young ferreter from Batley in West Yorkshire, I could see that his team — his lurcher, Molly, and two boxes of ferrets — would take some beating, because it worked so well together. Ryan has such a bond with his animals, and his enthusiasm is infectious.
Before he could drive, Ryan used to ride his moped 40-odd miles to his rabbiting permission with a spade on the side, a few nets tucked under the seat and a box of ferrets on the back. the return journey was yet more comical, because he would also be carrying the rabbits he had caught. Ferreting with such gusto, his relationship with the Dales’ farmers soon blossomed. He now boasts an extensive portfolio of rabbiting ground on which to perfect his chosen craft.
Quiet ferreting teamwork
On our arrival, the carpet of dead, crisp bracken obscured the warrens from our eyes but not from Molly’s nose. She gently tiptoed around the holes, her demeanour signalling the presence of rabbits. One net at a time was withdrawn from the pocket attached to Ryan’s harness. Inspecting and laying nets with the minimum of fuss and disturbance, he was deadly quiet — unlike his ferrets. Already collared up, they were incessantly scratching the lids of their boxes, anxious to get to work.
Find out more about Simon Whitehead’s adventures with Ryan and his ABC of ferreting advice column in the 6 April issue of Shooting Times on page 31.