Bolton Ferret Welfare

Scrap's First Rabbit

or Spock the thick lurcher!


by Sheila Crompton

Ron and I plus our 46 ferrets and Spock were invited to spend a short holiday with Thorr and Ingga at their home on the Wirral

On the Sunday morning we went ferreting, the first trip of the season, we'd been assured that the place was teeming with bunnies so we set off in Ron's 45 year old Land Rover, me driving, Ron in the passenger seat and Thorr and Ingga in the back with Spock, our lurcher, Urda a poley jill and Scrap, my albino jill all with high hopes of a good day with a good bag of rabbits

On arrival at the ground we were met by Colin who informed us that at dawn his garden and the field beyond had been a moving carpet of rabbits. We all had a cup of coffee and a chat with Colin before collecting the ferret box, purse nets, graft, hedging tool and locator

We walked up to the top of field but could find no signs of a bury. Meanwhile Spock was going crazy running around - he just loves to run, the only trouble is that he has lousy brakes and has knocked me flying on several occasions, the only way to avoid it is to stand still until he's only a few yards away and then side-step and hope that he dashes past.

We decided to take a wander down the edge of the field and found a bury but opted not to try it as it was very overgrown with brambles and nettles.

The next bury was under a tree and more of less in the open. Thorr checked the adjoining field for bolt holes and blocked them with stones. Ingga and I netted the holes on our side and fitted collars to the two jills and checked that they were transmitting OK. We only used one ferret as it was a only a small bury so Urda being the experienced jill was introduced to the first hole but she reappeared very quickly, Ingga tried putting Urda back down the hole again with the same result so she moved on to the next hole, once again Urda returned within seconds - Thorr wandered over to see what the problem was, he discovered that on putting his arm down all the entrances that they'd all been back-filled or had collapsed. Poor Urda couldn't go anywhere...

We moved on down the edge of the field to the next bury which was amongst a patch of young trees and brambles etc. we spent some time netting it up because we had to do a bit of clearing.

On going back to collect the ferret from the box Thorr came across a young rabbit crouched in a clump of long grass, we called for Spock and he ambled over to see what we wanted, he saw the rabbit and just stood and looked at it. The rabbit must have decided that it wasn't a good idea to hang around and it hopped off under the bushes. Spock watched its progress with a look of puzzlement on his face which seemed to say, "Duh! What was that then? I've never seen one of them before!" and with that he returned to dashing around the field...

Urda still had no luck in bolting anything from the bury so once again we moved on down the field. By this time we were beginning to wonder where all the rabbits that Colin had seen that morning had gone. We couldn't even hear any rabbits moving around below ground.

At the next bury I decided to try Scrap. At home Scrap is a bit nippy or else has a wicked sense of humour, she will find a bit of bare skin above your socks nip hard enough to draw blood and dash away in reverse... I put her down a couple of holes and she appeared to be working OK. Finally I introduced her to a hole further along the bank shortly afterwards I noticed the undergrowth moving on top of the bank so I called to Thorr that Scrap was out, as he was quietly moving across to investigate there was a thumping sound and then a rabbit started squealing, the rabbit then hit the purse net with Scrap riding on its back.

Scrap with her rabbit Thorr disentangled the young doe and Scrap from the net, Scrap let go of the rabbit which was then dispatched, he then picked up Scrap and handed her to me, her tail was bottled brushed and she'd also sprayed, even in the open air the smell was pretty pungent!

Spock came over to investigate what was going on and tried to get the rabbit that I'd legged and hung up on a convenient tree branch. Urda was sent down to investigate the bury further but there was no more action.

Once again we moved on down the field but as we were fairly near the Land Rover we opted for a hot drink and also giving the ferrets and Spock a drink of water. However, we drew a complete blank after the coffee break although Spock did find a pigeon that had flown into a wire and had neatly amputated a wing, the bird was still warm and a couple of ferrets enjoyed it their tea that afternoon.

(October 1998)

Working Ferrets
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