This blog is beginning to develop a preoccupation with ferrets, despite its being billed as concerning “grouse”. I just don’t seem to be able to draw my mind away from working the young hobs, and thankfully, I keep getting more and more opportunities to do so. Heading out for a recce near my house today, I came across some huge warrens, filled with signs of rabbity promise. However, closer inspection revealed that they had been very recently ferreted by someone else, and I didn’t hold out much hope for them.
As it was a nice day, I set up the nets regardless, watching a raven clocking quietly hundreds of feet overhead. It always seems amazing how resonant and far carrying a raven’s call is; you can hear it just behind you and turn around to find that it is a tiny speck away in the distance.
As I expected, there were no rabbits at home, but a few yards around the corner, a nettle patch and rubbish dump appeared to have been chewed up by digging rabbits. Two or three bunnies watched me sulkily as I walked over, and they popped defiantly into their stronghold, not knowing that that was a bad idea.
Given that the warren was overgrown with nettles, it was hard to see where to put the nets, but I felt confident that I had quite a good spread. There is always a hushed excitement before entering the ferret, like the feeling of lighting a fuse. It was patently obvious that the ground underneath me was alive with rabbits, but how would they react to the aggressive attentions of a slightly overweight and pampered predator?
I wasn’t long in finding out. In retrospect it is obvious where I should have put the nets, but as I watched a fairly continuous queue of seven rabbits emerge from a single hidden hole, I was stupidly frustrated. The ground bumped and shuddered beneath me, and somewhere, a rabbit screamed. I caught one in a purse net to one side, and had scarcely despatched it before another scream rushed out of another unblocked hole. The ferret was having the time of his life, and as a handful of other rabbits raced out from un-netted holes, I imagined what it must be like for him underground, bumping into bunnies and sending them on their way.
I finished that warren with just two rabbits. Each time I go ferreting, I learn that I have to do an even more thorough job of netting.