Bolton Ferret Welfare

It's Here Again

by Max Abell

We have been looking forward to the ferreting season and finally come mid August we couldn't wait any longer, so we boxed up three of our ten ferrets; all three were spayed jills as we didn't want to use any jills that had just been taken out of season by our vasectomised hob, Bert.

We arrived at one of our permissions: the weather was nice but not boiling hot. We purse-netted up five smallish buries in a row, went back to the first one and entered two of our three jills. Within seconds the first rabbit of the season hit the net, the rabbit was quickly dispatched and within no time we had 4 out of that first bury, quickly followed by another two in the bag. We worked our way down all five buries and we ended up with fourteen good sized rabbits and best of all, no hang ups, no digging and no milky does. The ferrets worked great so we paunched the rabbits and headed home before the flies got on our patch.

We have been ferreting six times up to now with bags of fourteen, four, seventeen, fifteen, twenty two and eighteen and only one hung up and that was Bert, our only hob. He's a rescue ferret, gentle as a lamb with us but I'm afraid he's not so gentle with the rabbits! He was soon dug out complete with rabbit, no worse for wear.

On the trip out where we got twenty two rabbits, we tried two of last year's kits: Bettsy (a polecat) and Poppy (a sandy). Last year we had tried them near the end of the season, they were OK but a bit scatty, more playing than working but that's kits for you, they have to learn the name of the game in their own time.

This year we put them down with two other experienced jills, April and May. The bury they entered was fairly big, approximately eighty odd holes; most of the holes were purse-netted but as a secondary measure we put a trammel net right around the bury as well. We had another two jills that we could enter if the rabbits proved too hard for the one-year-olds to shift. However, we were amazed at how young Bettsy and Poppy worked, bolting at least seven of the thirteen rabbits we got out of the bury. The other six were bolted by their elders, April and May.

We then moved onto another biggish bury, put all six jills down - Poppy, Bettsy, April, May, June and Lily. It was like a firework display with rabbits coming out of everywhere! We got another nine so we ended up with twenty two good rabbits, no digging and no hang ups. A perfect day out: the two youngsters had earnt their place in the ferret court. They'd worked their hearts out; we were very pleased with them.

I hope all our trips out this season are as good as the first few but we're not usually that lucky. We will let you know how we get on. As usual many thanks to all who support the NFWS and other ferret rescue centres.

Working Ferrets
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