Ferreting, or hunting with ferrets, is a past time, enjoyed by both young and old, that efficiently performs an important service by controlling rabbit populations in areas where they are are agricultural pest.
The ferreter spreads purse nets over rabbit holes, tying the draw chord of the net to a peg. The ferret(s) are then placed in the holes, the net reset and the ferreter duly waits silently and listens, while their inquisitive little helper works the tunnels and burrows.
Rabbits that bolt at the sound and smell of the ferret, are caught in the nets as they hit them at speed, the nets pursing around them and holding them until the ferreter can humanely dispatch them. Additional “long nets” can be used to line the berry, to catch any rabbits that escape from unnoticed bolt holes, or that manage to escape the purse nets
The same method of bolting rabbits can be used without netting the holes, but rather than catching them in nets, they can be flushed towards waiting guns, dogs, such as lurchers, or birds of prey, such as Harris Hawks. The method used will depend on what the land owner wishes, and the type of permission, it is not always advisable to use dogs or guns if near stables and livestock!
Most ferreters have now adopted electronic locating devices, paired with locator collars worn by the ferret. These emit a noise the closer they are to the collar, allowing the handler to track the ferret when it is below ground, and locate them should they decide to “lay up” (killing and eating a rabbit in the burrow, or simply go to sleep in the dark!).
This single development, is the only real difference between the way ferreting was carried out today, and how it was in the 12th century!
Last modified: June 27, 2015