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Spotting with my bro
Old 04-18-2013, 10:40 PM
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Default Spotting with my bro

My brother and kids were staying with us for a few days so I asked him if he'd like to go out spotlighting with me. He was interested, never having been before, so I decided we'd head out to the vineyard and I lined it up with the owner. It's a safe bet for at least a rabbit or 3 and often has hares too. We had a good night out although I wasn't at my best. I also struggled with my Sportco Martini Hornet. This rifle had extraction problems so I've been running Winchester 45gr HP factory ammo in it to make sure it's not the rifle. The factory ammo extracts fine but it hasn't got the accuracy of my old handloads. 1.5" to 2" @100m from the factory versus sub-MOA of the handloads. I apologise for the picture quality. They were taken with my mobile phone and no amount of photo editing could really improve them.

Our first kill was a bunny in the vines. He thought he was safe from the light as his head was down but his bottom was still sticking out. An easy wallop at 15yds with the Hornet.

The next was embarassing. We spied a hare in the front paddock in the direction of the house. I muffed the shot - dumb stuff, not properly looking, rushed. So the hare ran....right up the hill between the house and winery and out behind. We drove up behind and it was sitting on the rise 25m behind the house. I'm allowed to shoot there. The owner knows that shots come where game sits still and he wants pests shot. So I lined up and fired. The hare seemed unaffected at first and then limped a little. My brother told me to shoot again but I told him no. The proximity to the house was inappropriate for multiple Hornet shots in a short time and it had been loud. I got out of the car hoping to despatch it with a rock or knife if possible. If I had to make a killing shot it would be really close pointing away from the house. As it happened when I stalked toward the hare it bolted away and I knew my shot had been true. Part of a lung and all its entrails fell away and it kicked over within 4m, hence all the blood in the photo.

Sweeping back into the front paddock we spied this bunny moving about in the long grass along the fenceline. He sat quietly but a clever shot dropped him just as he began to move again. Here's my brother with him looking pleased. And so he should. He turned out to be an excellent spotter.

We moved out into the paddocks to the west of the property and next knocked over a bunny in the stockyards on the top of the hill. He ran hard then stopped in the open. Big mistake.

It was shortly afterward that I became increasingly frustrated with the Hornet. Two hares were circling about on the other side of a fence so I sighted on once and fired. I could've sworn I hit it but the customary THNNK!! of a solid hit was missing and after 10 minutes wasted looking in grass my fears were realised.

So I put the Hornet away and pulled out my Martini Cadet Sporter in 25-20. It has an old steel tube Weaver K-6 6x32 scope and the 75gr Turton FPs begin to drop hard at about 130yds but it has a gentler, deeper report than the Hornet and the heavier bullet with larger frontal area is satisfying in the way it makes stuff tumble. It soon despatched another bunny in the long grass when we moved through a gate into the next paddock. A very healthy bunny actually.

We soon spied the hares again, both looking very healthy and skittish, but the distance was just too far, even for the Hornet if it had been playing nice, so we turned and began a final sweep through the paddocks. Another bunny was taken near the gate. He ran hard and then, unwisely, stopped for a little too long.

We made a final sweep through the vineyard and were rewarded with a couple of bunnies. The first was scooting around in the paddock right next to the vineyard as we drove up the end row to the top. We pulled up and the rabbit began to pause and sit low in the grass, an effective trick as much of the grass was just long enough to hide him and the same colour as him in the spotlight. My brother said "Quick, he's just there!" I replied "I've got a bead on him....now" WHOMP!! The 25-20 always makes me smile.

I was a little careful going through this fence this time. I didn't want to get zapped in the balls again like last years episode.......

And finally we rounded the end of the row and saw a rabbit on the grass near the top of the hill. They're usually out here and I expected to see some. But they also usually run hard to the fenceline on the right. This one didn't. He seemed undecided and while he ran about a little he paused and then decided to run up the slope away from us at a moderate speed. I don't normally shoot animals which crest - safety of course - so I sighted his behind and gave him 75 grains of "Texas heart shot" just before he hit the crest. I heard that satisfying THNNK!! and smiled. I really love this little rifle. Best $220 I ever spent.

It was the shot of the night but the coolest thing was what I found when I went to inspect him......

That shiny object at the base of his ear is the jacket! The bullet smashed through his behind, disembowelled him, the jacket exited in it's own direction and then embedded in the back of his ear. Perfect as a varmint round.

So the final tally was 7 bunnies and 1 hare. My brother really enjoyed the night and said he had no idea that half of the challenge was locating and spotting game. I rang the owner the next morning, told him the tally and also apologised for the loud shot on the hare close to the house. He'd heard it but was unperturbed, describing it as "necessary for the goal". He was very pleased as the rabbits dig under the vines and chew the roots and we'd taken most of the rabbits close to or inside the vineyard.

I do need to take the Hornet to the range though. Maybe the scope needs adjusting or perhaps it's just the ammo. Whatever the case it's frustrating.
Cheers & God Bless
22lr ~ 22 Hornet ~ 25-20 ~ 303/25 ~ 7mm-08 ~ 303 British ~ 310 Cadet ~ 9.3x62 ~ 450/400 N.E. 3"

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