Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The not so Velveteen Rabbit and the .20 caliber pellet

Less plastic than the bunnies in Playboy

Six years ago the yard of my newly built home was comprised of dirt and scattered stone from the temporary drive. Having it rock hounded and grass planted was the first milestone in its development.

Once the lawn came in it was certainly better than the moon-like surface it replaced, but it was an almost sterile environment. That would change quickly with almost weekly plantings, I tried not to go overboard, but admittedly I am a bit of a plant junkie.

The original .20 caliber platform

Now under contrary circumstances, my reaction may have been different, but seeing the first rabbit in my yard I felt joyful, even proud that I turned the former waste land into a habitat worthy of a visit from Peter Cottontail. Shortly after, I would discover a nest of bunnies under a Barberry bush in my front yard. I was like a proud father, and punished the murder of crows that attacked one of my babies.

Soon, I would care for bunny nests in the front yard and back a couple times a year. The backyard nests I would fence off to protect from Petey, who has no hunting skills but a strong prey drive. I still feel bad for Speedy my daughter’s gerbil, but I'll save that story for a later date.

Pretty, but this one would not group even after being sent back to Crosman, because of that I would seek out a .20 caliber R7 to use all the pellets I had stockpiled

Now some of you may see where this is headed. A half a decade of nurturing bunnies led up to my current garden frustration. Previously, I ignored the munched flowers and vegetables as the amount was minor. But this year things changed, I planted my third pack of green beans and was less than happy about it. The planting wasn't due to such a large garden, but the constant eating as soon as they sprouted. The pepper plants were stripped of all leaves and the cabbage was turned into an appetizer. Now this may not seem so bad, but the Irish half of me relishes fresh green beans and potatoes cooked with ham and served with a thick slice of crusty bread slathered in artery clogging butter. Meanwhile, the Italian half demands fried peppers and sausage on a chewy bun.

So I order the hit. Since this is personal, I will take care of it myself. Timing will be the key; my family must know nothing about it due to delicate sensibilities and my desire to not hear their whining. The other piece is that the rabbit must be caught in the act. Of the dozens I have helped raise most stay in the outer perimeter of the property. The garden is very near the house, and this guy displays fearlessness that I respect, but it will also certainly be his downfall.

Now this twenty caliber shoots

I keep a close eye out and spot him chomping on the flowers that dot the outside edge of Eden, but he takes off at full speed when I open my patio door. Score one for the bunny. Another week passes and I peek out the bedroom window as soon as I awake. He is there, stripping the leaves off a new pepper plant. The circumstances are ideal, I am home alone.

According to Dr. Beeman you need 5 ft lbs of energy to kill a rabbit, so starting out at 7 ft lbs the .20 caliber R7 would seem to be up to the task at the modest distance I anticipate this shot to be. But I have to admit I am hesitant, I have always used much greater power when eliminating critters. I walk quickly and determinedly but don't run, being out of breath and shooting a light rifle is not a winning combination.

A quick check before I load shows he is still wreaking havoc on my tender young plants. A single Beeman \ H+N FTS will be the prescription for his illness. I make it out the door unnoticed and get into position. Prior to going outside I dialed in the distance on the AO scope which I estimate at just less than 40 feet, and set the corresponding number for the elevation from memory.

He is facing me sideways and the eye makes a tempting aim point, but I want him to be able to have an open casket so I pick a point about inch behind the eye. I am standing and shooting off hand, but at this close distance I have little doubt about connecting. The R7 pops and sounds so mild outside, I am sure no one is the wiser. I believe this .20 caliber version makes even less noise than the .177.

The rabbit goes down instantly and after a brief bout of back leg twitching has expired. I am happy that the R7 performed so well. On closer examination I find the entrance wound exactly as planned, and no exit wound. I still can't say that I would pick an R7 as a primary hunter, but it certainly can be called on to protect a backyard if needed. I would think that the Eastern Cottontail is at the top end of its limit, with the key being surgical precision. I would deem body shots out of the question. I wipe the Beeman R7 with an old oil stained t-shirt and give it a nod as I stand it up in the rack.

Forgive the lack of an actual kill photo. Perhaps a Jack-a-Lope would need confirmation, but I don't feel the need to show small game once it has been terminated.

In a better place, fyi the Mums to the right should be a foot tall by now...

I find a nice shady spot by a hosta, and say a few simple words, Petey looks on with curiosity. I imagine I hear a bell as the bunny gets his wings and goes off to that endless garden in the sky.

Recap on the .20 caliber R7:

My example shoots just a little faster then these numbers published by Straight Shooters.
I think the FTS are the ideal given the power level; also they are second only to the Beeman Double Gold FTS in accuracy.


I am playing this video non-stop in my garden. I think I can give the R7 a rest.
Not funny to a bunny


  1. Irish&Italian?And a plant nut? If we aren't like brothers in some other universe,then we are cousins!Like the writing,love the show of reverence and respect for the reader and the critter.You should write no matter what...site or no site.This ain't puffing....When I respect someone,they get the truth.Good,bad or indifferent.Thanks for the "ride"Volvo.Glad your back.

  2. Volvo,

    I've used my R7 in .177 to take squirrels, which are generally a bit tougher than a garden-variety rabbit. The .20 caliber would be a better choice, but I don't own one of those. Still, any port in a storm as they say. I have found that shot placement is the key, which means head shots only with the little gun. But, they are so accurate, that I can place the shot just about any where that I like within 25 yards or so. :-)

    Good shot and good result. Let's hope he didn't talk any of his buddies into trying your patience as well before meeting his end.

  3. Volvo,

    Loved your story. It's nice to have you back. I am currently involved with a particular stray tomcat. Will let you know details when the hunt is over. He's not going for traps, and my 'marking my territory' around the perimeter of yard is not working, so the hunt is on.


  4. Volvo,
    Nice narrative. There is a bunny explosion here this year, mainly because I let the grass grow more than usual in paddocks and pastures -- normally I mow through a dozen or so rabbits every year. It's actually still sad, even though unavoidable. Beans and new potatoes with some ham in the pot -- didn't know that was "ethnic":).

    Sounds more like a feral cat than a stray -- he's probably been trapped before.

  5. Bg Farmer,

    I was not claiming exclusivity to green beens and potatoes for Ireland, however any time a pot of boiling water and a spud meet it must be a consideration. More to the point is I can guarantee it is not traditional Italian fare.
    What you really missed however was the inner struggle that results from bringing two diverse cultures together. It parallels the conflict I feel having helped establish a rabbit population in suburbia only to find I need now to turn the corner and begin to undo my handy work.
    The last photo is also meant to be telling by showing the two contrary lawn decorations side by side.
    Perhaps when I am gone and my work is analyzed by the masters I will be better understood.... :o )

    Bobby Nations,
    I agree that tree rats are tough customers. I was surprised to see that the Beemans chart shows only 3 ft lbs is needed, but as you said it would need to be a head shot with an R7.

    Glad you liked it. Saw your offer to try a different stock on the 124, but mine has gone to a new home so thanks anyway. Did you see the R7 stocks at Airguns of Arizona? They have been tempting me, and it seems justifiable since I now have an arsenal of just one.

    Thanks for the support.


  6. Volvo,

    Wonderful read. I really like the last photo.

    BTW it's "wreaking" havoc not wrecking.


  7. What the heck are you trying to do....sending me there to look.What an enabler!I'm trying to cut down:]Seriously,get a diy,that is some $$$ for that stock,but it sure is purdy.Problem is,I have an issue with wanting a Daystate...I don't need a Daystate.I need another airgun like you need another rabbit!

  8. Volvo,

    Such a well-fed rabbit and you did not turn him into "Lapin a La Cocotte"? Tsk tsk...


  9. FrankB,
    AOA is one of my favorites, if you didn’t get the chance check out the used rifles some time. They get some sweet ones.
    If I get the stock, I would have to go with pre-finished. I stink at wood working. Don’t have the patience.

    Thanks for the tweak. The correct words are usually in my head, they just don’t make it to the page. : )

  10. Update,
    I am playing this video non-stop in my garden. I think I can give the R7 a rest.


  11. Someone once told me to blend a habinero pepper and then mix in a quart of water. Pour the liquid into a spray bottle and spray your plants to reduce garden pests.


  12. Volvo

    I have heard this one before, "I'm going to quit tomorrow." Yeah, right.

    I think this is an itch you must scratch every once in awhile, deadlines and amateur editors be damned.

    Plus, you love reading my snide comments to your blogs as much as I enjoy writing them.

    You cultivated poor little defenseless bunnies, just so you could decimate them, in such a cold-blooded manner? It was not fear of whining, which is unavoidable, but clearly shame which drove you to do these deeds in such a clandestine manner.

    I too am a plant nut. One of my favorites is the Fragrant Tea Olive or Osmanthus Fragrans I think it is. It blooms at least twice a year, and while the flowers are not much to look at, they smell so darn good you will blow out a lung. Tangerines and vanilla is the best way to describe it, but not suffocatingly sweet like gardenias can be.

  13. Slinging Lead,

    Yes, you do peel back the layers of the onion rather well. Subconsciously, given my once rural roots how could I not know the results of tending bunnies? The home made thicket of black berries and the neatly kept brush pile all point to an ulterior motive.

    Am I no better than the guy with a CCW permit that walks the inner city streets with twenty’s hanging out of his pockets?

    But as far as shame, I am a sales guy. I have none.

    Does the plant you recommend attract rabbits, I mean will it grow in zone 5?

  14. Volvo,

    I just got to looking at the "rabbit link". Fantastic! I wonder if a cat version would work around here? I know I would enjoy it greatly, especially the chopping of the legs!


  15. Volvo,

    Okay, we've been good kids and shown enormous patience.

    It's been over a week and I'm jonesing for a fix. Please write again.


  16. Kevin,

    If I can figure it out I'll set it up so you get an e-mail when I put up a new post. Until then, read the motto under the blog name and fill the wait by shooting all those sweet guns you own!

  17. Volvo,

    hmmm... shoot more, blog less. Great idea! Off to the range I go!


  18. Volvo,

    Missed that part. I'm off to my place in the mountains. Supposed to reach record temperatures of 100+ degrees here in town today but only a high of 75 at my mountain cabin. Lots of chores but should get some shooting and pest control/hunting in later today.