There’s nothing quite like a delicious, old-fashioned rabbit stew. Just think about tasty root vegetables simmering in a rich gravy with fresh rabbit meat that’s been marinated in sweet cider and seasoned with black pepper and thyme …
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First of all, we need to catch some rabbits.
The rabbit, formerly known as the coney
The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) first came to Britain with the Romans, and, just like the Romans, this highly sexed little mammal has made a great impact on our culture. Over the last 2,000 years, there have been hundreds of children’s stories starring high-profile characters such as Peter Rabbit, Little Grey Rabbit, Roger Rabbit, and Bugs Bunny; and hundreds of children have enjoyed owning a rabbit (or bunny) as a pet. In wartime, hundreds of men have clutched a rabbit’s foot (for luck) as they died in battle; and hundreds of country people have feasted on delicious rabbit meat.
A female rabbit gives birth to approximately five kittens at a time, and she’ll produce as many as five litters a year; the gestation period is just 30 days. Rabbits live in complex systems of purpose-built burrows, called warrens, which provide first-class shelter from the weather and from predators. So, with secure housing and a tendency to breed like … well, you know … this evolutionary champion exists in abundance, chomping its way through crops as fast as farmers can plant them.
Rabbits are pests all year long. There are always too many rabbits around, which is a great nuisance to farmers, but a gift to pest controllers and recreational shooters.
Now, rabbit fur is a pretty poor source of insulation, and so these creatures don’t take kindly to cold or wet weather. In extreme conditions, rabbits hide away in their burrows, and you’ll be hard-pressed to spot any at all. However, if you’re out with your gun at a time when bad weather is moving in, rabbits will, in all likelihood, be scurrying about, frantically searching for food and shelter before holing up for the duration of the cold, wet weather.
Be vewy vewy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits!
There are so many superb air rifles on the market, and they all have their plus points. But which of these rifles would you choose to take out hunting?
That’s a loaded question. So, with our sights set on .22 calibre break-barrel rifles (which we recommend for novice shooters), we’ve taken a shot at selecting the three best ones for rabbit shooting, along with some choice pellets.
Here they are, then, in no particular order:
Storm X Deluxe Kit
This is Pellpax’s ultimate pest dispatch rifle kit. The Storm X, from Norica, is a powerful air rifle with a muzzle energy of between 11 and 12ft/lb, designed for the dispatch of all small pests, including squirrels, rats, pigeons, and rabbits. This gun’s high power and pin-point accuracy ensure a humane, one-shot kill.
The Storm’s stock, which is made from stained, vaporised beech wood, features ornately textured grips to ensure a secure hold. The adjustable trigger has an automatic safety, and the ventilated butt plate minimises recoil, preventing damage to your shoulder. This beautiful rifle has a barrel length of .454m, a total length of 1.190m, and it weighs 3.2kg.
Rabbits are at their most active at dawn and dusk, and for these low light conditions, you’ll need a good-quality scope with a large lens, which will let in enough light for better contrast and improved vision. So, as well as a super Norica break-barrel rifle, the Storm X Deluxe Kit includes a 3-9×50 scope and scope mounts. The huge zoom range is ideal for hunting rabbits and other pests from a long distance, although we recommend that you shoot from no more than 40m from your target.
The Pellpax Storm X Deluxe Kit includes a .22 calibre air rifle, 3-9×50 scope with scope mounts, a screw-on silencer, padded gun bag, clip-on bipod, and a tin of hunting pellets. It’s a great buy at just £229.99, only from Pellpax.
With its Lothar Walther barrel and Minelli stock, the ambidextrous Classus really is a smooth operator. Elegant checkering on the forestock and pistol grip ensures a secure grip, and the rubber butt plate absorbs a good deal of the recoil.
The Classus has the same cocking rod as the Walther LGV, as well as the adjustable Walther XT trigger. The action uses a smooth and consistent spring-and-piston system that’s been tuned for low recoil and accurate power levels. The Walther Classus – which is 1.07m long, weighs 3.1kg, and has a muzzle energy of 11.5ft/lb – is available from Pellpax at £369.99.
Now, what about pellets? To complement the Walther Classus, we recommend the 18-grain ProShot Precision Perdere, a hollow-point pellet ideal for hunting and pest control. Upon impact with the target, the hollow-pointed nose drives air back into the centre of the pellet, causing rapid expansion of the pellet, which increases the size of the wound channel. This ensures a quick, clean kill.
These high-quality ProShot Precision Perdere .22 calibre pellets are fantastic value, available from Pellpax at £8.59 for a tin of 250.
Black Ops Tactical Sniper
Great for all shooting disciplines, from pest and vermin control to target shooting and plinking, the Black Ops Tactical Sniper packs a mean punch. With a sturdy, tactical frame and a massive 11.7ft/lb muzzle energy, this great-looking break-barrel airgun comes with a folding bipod and 4×32 scope included in the price. The fully adjustable stock means you can tailor it to suit you for the perfect shot every time.
Another nice feature of the Black Ops is the storage facility concealed in the fake magazine, where you can store pellets. At 1.11m long, with a barrel length of 0.45m, and weighing 4kg, this rifle has an awesome price tag of £171.99.
And pellets? Well, how about the ProShot Precision Magnum, a 17-grain domed pellet with a bit more point than the average dome! This best-of-both-worlds pellet is an all-round performer, suitable for any kind of shooting, and you can pick up a tin of 300 for just £8.99.
… Or there’s the Gamekeeper Long Range Special, a high-quality domed pellet that ensures consistency and accuracy for those long-range shots. These pellets are fantastic value at £8.99 for a tin of 500.
For more information about any of the products featured on the Pellpax website, give us a call on 01263 731 585 to talk to a member of the sales team or to one of our gunsmiths.
And one more thing: If you’d like to send us your rabbit recipes, with a photo, we’d love to share them via social media with Pellpax customers all over the UK! Just drop us an email at [email protected]