It's been 14 months since I went out for a shot with the old man so it was quite fitting that we spend the afternoon chasing rabbits on a property we've been hunting together for 21 years. This is where it all began.
We parked the Toyota on a plateau and headed down to the first gate under the pines. As a young fella' I'd have my hands deep in my pockets while dad unhooked the frozen chain. We sidled along the slope, I stayed high where I might pick off a squatting rabbit with the .22 and dad assumed his standard line at the bottom of the gully where the bunnies tend to break - perfect fodder for the shotgun.
As we came over a small rise I could see their little white tails bobbing away. In the gully below, the old man had the over-and-under stretched out in front of him and was in his very own original shooting stance with bent knees - the report of the shotgun barked down the gully and he'd rolled our first rabbit for the afternoon. We both took a whiff of the spent hull before I pocketed it and we gralloched our rabbit and packed it into the shooting bag.
We chased the light as the afternoon wore on and the darker it got, the more game we saw. The shotgun accounted for quite a few rabbits, one at around 60 very long paces and another was hurtling down a steep slope like a missile when a load of no.4 shot sent him tumbling into the blackberry.
My newest .22 long rifle, a Savage MarkII BSEV with the excellent AccuTrigger collected its first young rabbit with a neat head-shot at 65 yards. He went flopping into a very wide burrow and I had to crawl in to my waist to reach this fellow, never a pleasant task in snake weather, but this young rabbit had a date with destiny, or rather an appointment with some garlic and olive oil so he wasn't to be wasted!
A drawn out fox-calling session at my favourite spot yielded no results, but it was nice to sit with dad under the very same tree where we sat 21 years ago when I called in my first fox. That tree is much bigger now.