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Mick Garvey gets out for one last FAC rabbit hunt before he sends his beloved FX Impact off for a service; this time, he's paired the gun with Wildman Slugs.
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After my recent trip to South Wales, I decided to get out with the FAC FX Impact before it went in for its final tuning. Prior to leaving for Cymru, Liam at Wildman Slugs and I got together for a morning to get the FX Maverick and Impact set up as best we could before I put the order in for the slug trick bits from The Sportsman Gun Centre and Huma Air – these should be with me anytime now.
The FXs are currently pushing out 90 ft.lbs. and 70 ft.lbs. respectively, with much more expected when the kits are fitted. Initially, we had set the zeros at 35 yards at ‘Casa Wildman’ and used hold-over out to well over 100 yards on an old farm building. The sight of slugs stacking on top of each other was one to behold and brick dust was flying from the exact same spot every shot.
We had fitted a power plenum, which dramatically improved the power delivery and shot count with the standard internals, but once the liners, power kits and the Huma high flow V2 transfer ports are installed, things will be substantially improved again. Unfortunately, the morning ended all too soon because we both had things to attend to, and we decided to call it a day and continue with the ‘big tune’ when the parts arrived. I’d gathered some good intel from the visit to Liam’s last month, which included retrieving a few slugs for examination of the expansion, and how well the FX’s grouped at distance, so I was eager to get out and carry out some serious pest control.
So, with all this information spinning around my head, and hardware at hand to play with, the next step was to get out to the fields or woods on live quarry. The temperature had been reaching the 30ºC on a daily basis, and most if not all of the pests were keeping cool in their burrows and dreys during the day, so the plan was for a very early morning or an evening approach. This decision was made easier when a call came in from a log cabin owner, whose outbuildings were being0 undermined by burrowing rabbits. He was concerned that sometime soon, the burrowing would start around his cabin’s foundations.
Although the weather had been unusually warm during the day, the night brought a bit of a nip in the air, due to a north-easterly breeze, but luckily, I had the Shooterking Forest Mist digi-camo suit which we used on the SCTV video. This is a great piece of kit with a soft-touch finish that provides ‘silent running’ whilst stalking; plenty of pockets, lightweight, protective areas on the knees for those kneeling shots, and a generous fit that doesn’t hinder shouldering the gun, be it freehand or on the tripod.
We filmed a recent episode for the Shooting and Country TV channel at this place, so I know it like the back of my hand, and the tried and tested plan of stalking the rabbits with the rifle attached to a Rekon tripod would be the way forward. The Maverick was stripped down in readiness for the forthcoming build up, so the .25 Impact was the rifle of choice for the evening, and as I’d be out until the early hours, the InfiRay Saim thermal scope was slotted onto the Picatinny rail, and I zeroed on site, using the ‘silver tape’ method.
The Impact was running at 70 ft.lbs. with the 34g Wildmans, so I decided on a 50-yard zero, and to use hold for closer or longer shots when and if needed. Experience told me that with the wind in my face, I could walk up to the bunnies and easily get within that range. There were sheep in the field, but the grass was still long in places, so the aptly named Finder would have a dual purpose tonight.
First off was the log cabin owners’ small field, and a quick circuit resulted in half a dozen adult-sized rabbits. The Finder picked out the rabbits like stars in the night sky, but a few shots where not taken because the backdrop wasn’t safe, with either cabins or vehicles in the line of fire. I left the rabbits in a pile for easy location on my return from the big field.
A treeline of hawthorns split the field, and I always use this to mask my movement. The wind was from the north-east, and I used that to allow me to walk into what I regarded as the hotspot area. The sheep were all sitting below the hawthorns, and they trotted off in unison as soon as I got near them. ‘Marvellous!’ I thought. “That’s spooked the rabbits!’ – but no – four of them were still sitting
at around 40 yards, totally unaware of my presence. I set down the tripod and took all four, with four successive shots, and all recorded on the Saims’ onboard video. I placed them in my stuff bag
Every 10 steps, I came to a halt, scanned around, and was confronted by bunnies feeding freely. Again, the thermal highlighted the heat source, even through the long grass, and the wind in my face worked in my favour as it always does, and the bag had eight in before I’d reached the hotspot. This was a brow that overlooked a valley where there was a large burrow, but creeping up to keep my profile to a minimum against the skyline was a must.
A barbed wire fence separated the next field where cattle were sometimes kept, but not tonight. I took two more that were sitting out of their holes, and another on the other side of the fence. I had to ensure that the 34g slug missed the wire fencing, and the sight of the bunny falling face
down without so much as a twitch confirmed that the shot was true, and even at 70 yards, the crack of slug hitting skull was easily heard. The conditions were perfect for thermal use, and the 17mu sensor really showed its class with some awesome location of the quarry, although some long-range kills took some finding due to the length of the grass, so 70 yards maximum shots were the order of the evening.
The bag was getting heavy, so I headed back to the truck to stash these with the six from earlier, and after a quick snack, I was heading back to the trouble spot. This is the area where the rabbits gain access to the cabin owners’ field, and the holes under the fence had increased since the last time I visited and I’m thinking I need to step up the frequency of the visits.
This was the easiest part of the night because I would be standing at the 90-degree corner of the hedge-line with the Rekon tripod, the rabbits would come from the valley burrow, and head to the freshly cut grass – the owner keeps the grass cut regularly and the rabbits love it. They were out in force, and the fact that I was able to take another five without spooking them is not only testament to the great job the Donny FL Sumo does, but also shows how you can use the wind and breeze to your advantage – they never knew what hit them.
I took one more en route to the truck, and that was it for the evening; 23 rabbits from 26 shots, and three of them had been zero shots. We agreed that I was to try to create a balance, albeit slightly weighted in our favour, and not to eradicate everything, and I will stick to the deal as long as they want, but I’ll also explain about the increased damage and numbers of bunnies that are heading their way – I could easily double tonight’s number once the grass drops back.
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