WORKING ESSENTIALS: The things that are important to have when out working your ferrets.

When I go ferreting I always use jills, colour doesn't matter. Even though I know people who successfully work hobs, I was taught by my father that hobs would kill rabbits more often than bolt them, hence lots of digging, which is something I don't care for. Another reason for using jills is due to their size, (being generally smaller than hobs) as this gives them the advantage of getting around a rabbit when tucked up, also the rabbit has an harder job pulling from the jaws of an hob than a jill, but I dare say their will be as many reasons why some people use hobs rather than jills.

I usually take about fifty 3ft half a dozen 4ft purse nets half a dozen double pegged nets this is a net with two pegs one at each end and is very useful for holes which you can't get to very quickly as they tend to hold a rabbit for a lot longer, two 30yd long nets, and two 100 yd pre-set longnets all my nets are hand made and have stood the test of time. I brought my long net baskets from Master Hunter (see links to this site) I have made my own pegging sticks for the pre-set nets using graphite golf clubs,for the traditional method of longnetting I tend to use straight lengths of Blackthorn which I cut myself.All nets should be hung to dry after use and kept in a dry place mine have large hooks in a keepers cupboard and only come out on rabbiting days.

4 Foot Nets

3 Foot Nets

To anyone unfamiliar with rabbiting, the 3ft purse nets are for placing directly on to the rabbit holes 4ft for larger or awkward holes and are secured to the ground with a wooden peg. The 30yd nets are what I use in awkward places, such as stacked bales, wood stacks, and brambles or just as a secondary net a few yards from the warren if netting proves difficult.The long net has a similar use as the 30yd nets but cover a much larger area.

It is possible to use pre-set longnets for night time rabbiting but I still prefer the traditional method.

Game bags are used to carry my nets and any rabbits we are lucky enough to catch and should be heavy-duty canvas or similar, most have a net pocket attached and I find this useful for tucking my locators into. I also use a Roe sack this will easily carry between 20-25 rabbits,as this is worn as a back pack it evens out the weight.Game carriers are another useful tool and I have one with about 12 straps which are attached to a broad leather shoulder strap.

The most important thing you will need second only to the ferret. From time to time a ferret can refuse or be unable to exit the warren usually when it has killed or got a rabbit tucked in a dead end hole, this is when a locator is used to detect where exactly your ferret and the dead rabbit is. There are three types of locator; an 8ft depth, a 15ft depth, and the new 20ft 'search and locate' that also has a digital depth reading. All consist of a receiver box and a collar that transmits a signal to it, It is important to check the batteries and carry replacements incase they run out. Locators are expensive and will cost around £100 - £150 , but can make the difference between a good day and a long drawn out day with the loss of a ferret.

I value and respect my ferrets immensely and I would never advocate anyone working a ferret underground with out using a locator and collar.

Ferret Finder MkI 8ft
(no longer available from Deben)

Ferret Finder MkI 15ft
(no longer available from Deben)

Finder Mk3 16ft

(Hi Vis pictured)also available in grey
approx £137.00 (inc. collar)

Only MK3 Ferret Finders can be purchased from Deben Mk1 regularly available on ebay.

The three locators above are as far as I am aware the only ones available in the UK. Deben did bring out a M2 but due to problems this was with drawn.I have tried all of them and I am quite happy with the results, one of the benefits of the mk3 is its 16ft search and 8ft locate this homes you in on the ferret very quickly, the digital read out takes a bit of getting used to but once you have mastered it, it's quite easy.

The 8ft would suit most needs but if you work warrens deeper than 8ft your ferret is undetectable some of the time, and if you get a rabbit tucked up it's bound to be deeper than 8 foot, although I have never dug more than 4-5ft for the past 2-3 years I have used 15ft locator just for peace of mind, there is nothing worse than a long wait and not knowing where your ferret is.

My personal preference is the old MK1 15ft.

The spade needs no introduction; it's there for digging only on necessity. I did tend to use a small stainless steel border spade because I found it to be strong and light to carry, a grafter is another useful spade usually weighs a fair bit more than a border spade but if you find yourself digging on a regular basis this is the ideal tool for you, but beware you can start weighing yourself down with too many tools.I have now purchased a Bulldog Rabbitting/Premier spade(see links to this site) which is very light,strong and also comes with a 10 year guarantee.This spade is perfect it is both the above in one.

A relatively new item to my essentials is a good pair of secateurs which has proved invaluble when clearing bramble and tree roots.

I always carry a live trap mink trap, which I keep in my Land rover. In some situations i.e. working warrens under concrete floors such as cattle sheds old army barracks or just thick hedges that are impossible to dig through or under, it may be necessary leave a ferret under ground overnight. I have had to use this method several times and it has proved 100% successful. Another method I use is by placing a second ferret into the warren, unfamiliar with the first, which usually results in a squabble and both ferrets exiting the warren.

Copyright 2004 Bob Bradury