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Last Friday morning was nice and frosty, a perfect opportunity to deal with some rabbits for a local client.
The little jill ferrets soon had a brace of rabbits out of a burrow in an old compost heap with no problems.
We moved on to another burrow in a thick, old hedge. I soon had the "Masterhunter" Quickset Longnets erected around the set & entered the pair of jills and stood back to await developments.
About half an hour later the albino jill popped her head out of a bolt hole, I went to pick her up and she ducked back into the burrow but she soon showed again at the hole she'd gone down to start with. I picked her up & noticed clumps of rabbit fur stuck to her claws, the pair of them had obviously been in close combat with subterranean rabbits.
I put the little white jill back in the carrying box and got out Smudge, a huge male polecat or "hob" and popped him into the burrow hoping he'd drive the other jill from her kill.
After anther half an hour or so Smudge reappeared on the surface, I tried to pick him up but he was quite agitated, tail fluffed out and claws covered with rabbit fur - still no sign of Jenny, the missing jill.
I caught Smudge, boxed him up & tried whistling for Jenny, they'll usually come to a whistle if they think they're going to be fed but to no avail. Reluctantly I blocked the holes up,
took down the nets and went home for a cage trap.
When I got back there was no sign of Jenny having dug her way out, so I paunched one of the rabbits and put the steaming intestines on top of a bed of straw in the bottom of the cage trap, set it carefully and buried it in the mouth of the burrow,I had to leave Jenny to her own devices as the hedge was too thick to try and dig her out and I had mole traps to check before it got dark.
I went back the next morning before going to the pheasant shoot and dug the trap out - still no sign of the missing ferret.
I reburied the cage, fearing the worst, perhaps the rabbits had burrowed into an old mine shaft, we were near a dis-used pit, maybe Jenny had taken a fatal kick to the head....
Sunday morning and none of the holes showed any sign of the AWOL ferret having dug her way out and as before the cage was empty I put some fresh bait in the cage & re-buried it as we had a football match to go to. Nothing again Sunday night.
Monday morning armed with a spade and Smudge, complete with a locator collar & new batteries, I returned to the burrow to try & find out for sure what had happened. Still no sign of a breakout, I pulled the buried cage trap out of the burrow mouth and as I did so it tipped to one side as a bleary eyed little polecat ferret stretched and yawned none the worse for her weekend away.
Jenny after going "Absent Without Leave" for the weekend.