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Ferreting for rabbits in Scotland

Keeper with ferret during hunting rabbit

An ancient sport for putting food on the table, and an effective form of vermin control: rabbits are one of the biggest pests and cause large amounts of crop and land damage. Ferrets are sent into burrows to chase the rabbits out into the open where they are netted or shot. 

The Team of all4hunters.com / Linda Mellor
Christian Korsten carrying rabbits during the hunting with ferret
Christian Korsten carrying rabbits.

Christian Korsten, owner of Chirnside Hall Hotel, and his two gamekeepers transport a shooting party in their 4X4s high up into the Lammermuirs hills in southern Scotland.

We park-up just as the landscape changes, and the heather-clad hilltops come into view. The fresh country air fills your nostrils as you look out across the large panoramic view.


The group is split into three with Christian and his two gamekeepers, each with a dog at heel and a couple of ferrets. The small groups head off in different sections up the hillside to work the spread of rabbit warrens.

Hunting rabbit: start of the day on the Lammermuir hills
Start of the day on the Lammermuir Hills

Ferreting Equipment

Ferret wearing the tracking collar
Ferret wearing the tracking collar. Tracking collars are used like a location tracking device.

Tracking collars are fitted to the ferrets to ensure they are not lost.


The tracking collar on the ferret transmits a signal to the handler’s receiver so they can pin point the location of the ferret and how far down into the warren it has gone. 

Hunting rabbits with ferrets: how it's done

Hunting rabbits with ferrets a great spot that will test your skill, speed and focus, but it doesn't sound so simple. 

The ferrets are put down into the burrows (entrance to the warren), and they work away quietly. After a while, you can feel a vibration on the ground beneath your feet: it’s a rabbit thumping the earth to warn others of impending danger

The keeper gives one of the shooters a nod to get ready to shoot. Suddenly, there’s movement! Two rabbits bolt out at lightning speed, the shooter mounts his 12 bore shotgun and fires both barrels in quick succession. The keeper’s gundog retrieves the shot rabbits and, we move on, working our way around the hill enjoying the challenge of shooting bolting rabbits.

Hunters waiting to shoot rabbits
Hunters waiting to shoot rabbits.
Hunter ready to shoot during hunting rabbit
Hunter ready to shoot.

Gamekeeper Matt Beaumont said, “it can be a great day to spend with guests when the weather’s nice and the rabbits bolt well. The guests are either experiencing the sport for the first time or re-living when they started to shoot. It's nice to offer something different from the norm, and as its just me and 2-3 guns it's far more personal than normal days shooting.”

Hunting rabbits: dead rabbits
The bag before lunch.

Ferreting for rabbits is great sport and very traditional, and best enjoyed with late lunch served on the hill. 


For more information on Linda Mellor, please visit Linda Mellor's website

Twitter (@LindaMellor) and Instagram (@linda_mellor).

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