I have never been one for teaming up with a partner on my shooting activities, although there are a couple of people with whom I feel comfortable – and both are called Richard. Richard 1 is my long-suffering partner’s son and is military-based; Richard 2 is also long suffering – my brother, based in the USA – both are experienced shooters, and both have my full trust. We have had many an outing in the past, and Richard 1 has just been to visit with us here in Penrith, along with his wife, Sue. Well before he arrived, we had arranged a night out so that I could show him some of the latest technology I have available for ‘night ops’ on the rabbits. I was interested to hear his thoughts on civilian night-vision, and thermal scopes and spotters.

Richard 2 is also going to grace these pages shortly because I have a trip planned to Virginia in the USA, and we are already planning a couple of hunting and fishing trips. It’ll be squirrel and rabbit season in Virginia when I’m there, but there’s a bag limit which I believe is six per day for each species. I know, I know – you’d think six wouldn’t even scratch the surface, but there are so many hunters in the USA that there’d soon be nothing left to hunt if the limit were not in place … and yes again, I know that would be a good thing over here in the UK regarding the invasive grey squirrel, but different countries and different rules will make it an interesting visit.


Richard 1 arrived on the Thursday, and we spent most of the day catching up. We are in regular contact, but there’s nothing better than having a good long chat over a beer or two. Before the beer turned into ‘beers’, we had a look over the airguns we’d be using, and I needed Richard 1 to be 100% conversant and happy with the operation of gun, scope and spotter. His military background shone through, and little time was wasted on explanations.

Many years ago, we used to shoot together using varied airguns; Falcon, Weihrauch, BSA, Theoben, Daystate and Air Arms to mention a few – we even fished for carp together in matches and for pleasure. Richard 1 moved on to be totally engrossed in carp matches, and shooting took a back seat – it was further than a back seat, it was in a trailer. It wasn’t forgotten, but just in the background and he’s now representing the RAF team and has just won the inter-forces championship. Some of the carp in his portfolio are absolutely outrageous – up to 52lbs and he’s now on a new syndicate water where his next target is a 62-pounder – wowser!

Mick G 1
The InfiRay SCT19 didn’t fail to impress my partner.


The airguns for the night were a pair of FXs; the .22 cal Dreamline Lite Compact Tactical in sub-12 ft.lbs, fitted out with an InfiRay Saim SCP19 thermal scope would be Richard 1’s gun for the evening. It came with the Magpul stock and bipod and the pellets were Air Arms 16gr Diablo Fields.

My rifle was the .25cal Wildcat Mk2 (War-cat) with an InfiRay TD40L Tube night-vision scope. I’d replaced the standard IR torch with my favoured Wicked Lights A51IR, 3-in-1 torch –
850nm, 940nm and red LEDs, all in one and available at the turn of a dial, with a quick-detach, multi-adjustable mount. I also used the KJI K800 carbon-fibre tripod. The plan was to let Richard 1 take the shorter shots, and I’d take the longer shots with the longer-reaching FAC ‘cat. Pellets again were AA Diablo Fields, but in 25gr.

All the hardware was stashed in the truck, and we made our way in total darkness to one of my permissions. The nights are certainly drawing in now. The moon was full, but with plenty of cloud cover that occasionally broke to reveal its brightness, and a single streetlight on the lane provided the only other illumination, but this would be lost once we were into the fields. I have talked about quite regularly about the fields that we’d be working through and the fact that I was back here highlights the problem that the rabbits present to the lodges. It is a constant job keeping on top of them.

Mick G 2
  Laid up with the War-cat will be a future approach for this warren.                                         


A simple approach was the way forward, so we walked the adjoining paddock fence line that separated my land from a pony paddock. It’s always a depressing walk because the adjoining paddock is always full of rabbits and I haven’t met with the owner yet, to chat about the possibility of sorting the problem – if she feels there is a problem. So, resisting the temptation to take an ‘out of bounds’ rabbit, we moved on.

As you crest the top of the field, there is a line of hawthorns where the first of the burrows lie, and this is always a good indicator of what’s going to be around for the evening. The hawthorns are quite well established, and the trunks are wide enough to cover most of our movements.

Richard 1 was first up with the sub-12 because the couple of rabbits that were out sat between 25 and 30 yards. I stayed put whilst he crept forward and used the support of the hawthorn for the first shot of the night – and the first shot he had taken on a rabbit in quite a while. I could see the slight hesitation. He wanted to get the shot right, especially under my watchful eye, but there was no need for any concern and the rabbit just folded after being struck perfectly with the diablo pellet. It was good to see him keeping on the scope to ensure that there was no ‘bouncing’ into a burrow –something that is overlooked way too often. Always keep an eye on the fallen quarry!

I was scanning the area for the second bunny, but couldn’t see it. Richard had picked it up, though, because it had clamped down after he had taken the first one, and he was now zeroed in on it. Moving slightly forward gave me the view I needed, and another impressive shot dropped a rabbit with just a kick of its legs. He certainly hadn’t lost his skills in the field, so far. I had the pleasure of carrying the rabbits that night and these were two good-sized ones.


As we edged further toward the very top end of the field, quite a few heat sources shone out, but experience told me that all that glitters is not gold. When I looked how the image sat and the size of it, I could see that they were not our target species, but partridge. We stepped away from them, so not to set them into flight and alert any rabbits, and walked up on a couple of our intended targets.

These were mine, and at 50 and 55 yards they were easy pickings for the War-cat. The KJI tripod provided an elevation to the shot, to overcome the longer grass and undulation of any land,
and the Wicked Lights IR was set just to the side of the TD50L’s view, to a wide flood. The eyeshine was unmistakeable, and as always on this night-vision unit, the image was exceptional. A 25gr pellet hit home hard and fast, and we were treated to a spectacular back flip. This set the second rabbit on alert, and it checked to both sides before coming to its fallen companion. A duplicate of the first shot dropped it, side by side with the first one, and we tucked another two heavy rabbits into the rucksack before we moved on.
Mick G 4  Mick G 5

Richard certainly stands out in his field.  Using the thermal makes things easier check the image quality!


Even with the cloud cover it was really bright, and picking the rabbits was easy without using the thermal spotter. This also worked against us, though, because we could easily be seen by the rabbits if we didn’t move stealthily and use whatever hedges were available. A couple of times we’d see a rabbit bolt as we approached, way beyond the range of even the FAC-cat. The stillness was definitely working against us, but we wouldn’t give up … no way!

At the far end, the land drops away at a steep incline and at the bottom is a huge oak tree, where the main burrowing takes place. Laying up above the oak and waiting for a few to appear is something I don’t do a lot, but tonight we gave a go. The slightest of breezes had stirred up, it was into our faces and I was thinking that this was a perfect scenario. We had been lying there for about 30 minutes, keeping any chat to a whisper, when all hell broke loose!

About five rabbits broke cover and scattered on the far bank, looking straight back at the warren, and then it appeared – a flippin’ badger! It must have taken up residence in one of the burrows and it was huge creature, but it was on a mission and was soon out of sight.

Once relative calm had been restored, we set about waiting in, and slowly they came back, but Richard 1 had his first and only miss of the night. The steep incline required a spot of hold-under, which he hadn’t taken into account, and the pellet could be seen whistling over the rabbit’s ears. ‘Aim low and go again’, were my instructions, and without a second’s hesitation, he chambered a second pellet and this time there was no mistake – the rabbit just fell flat on its face.


I let my shooting buddy take a few more before entering the ring again myself.

We’d got eight now and I’d be happy with double figures. It was time for the War-cat to show what it could do, and right on cue, my chance appeared at 70 yards out and sitting perfectly, sideways on. The AA Diablo smashed home and another instant kill was recorded. I desperately wanted another and my patience was rewarded when number 10 raised its head out of the warren, just enough for a headshot. We were happy with that, thinking that an hour or so would increase the numbers. This thought was immediately dashed when a couple from the nearby lodge came walking along the bottom toward the oak tree and warrens. Our heads dropped in unison and we knew that the evening was over. We laid there in silence and watched the couple walk by – it looked like a gentleman, his granddaughter and a dog, totally unaware of our presence. It wasn’t a right of way or a public footpath, so we weren’t going to get into a confrontation about it, but I mentioned it to the landowner because he usually has sheep in there and lambing is not that far off.

Well, Richard 1 was highly delighted with his night’s shooting, and our next meet up will be a fishing one on his new syndicate, where there lies that 62-pounder … now that would be a story to tell, if I snagged that for myself.

Mick G 6
Out of the darkness came a man bearing rabbits.