AirGun Hunting Stories by Nigel Jones
Take Down Rats
Throughout the last month I have been rather busy tackling the the brown Rat, which carries the scientific name ‘ Rattus Norvegicus ‘. The brown Rat Is thought to come from Norway, transported on the ships that crossed the channel to Britain around the eighteenth century, however when I completed my NPTC pest control course some time ago, I found that the brown rat actually originated from Asian country’s such as China, Japan and India, the term from their is called ‘the true rat’.
The brown rat at full size in appearance can grow up-to 23 centimetres In length, I think their getting bigger than that, going on some of the monsters I have shot as of late. Rat’s have a good sense of smell, and are known to communicate using ultrasound, they also have other good senses, that are taste and touch, the brown rat maybe only has one weak spot, and that is, It’s colour blind.
Rat’s breed quite rapidly, each female can have between 3 to 12 litter’s a year, consisting of 6 to 8 young, and Its not long until the juvenile females can start to breed as well, at around 12 week’s. So If rat’s are ignored, you will encounter a very serious infestation, that could cost landowners an arm and a leg. They are constant knawers, so will damage shed’s outbuilding’s, water-pipes and electrical cables. Rat’s will often nest close to a food source, and there’s an old saying, ” your never more than 10-metres away from rat’s, as us humans go about our daily business “.
When out shooting rat’s with your Air-Rifle, be sure to always go for head shots, and take along a bucket and a set of tongs to pick them up afterwards, never touch rats with your bear hand’s, and I must stress never. They carry numerous diseases, the main one being Leptospirosis, otherwise known as Weils Disease, this can get nasty, If picked up, so If you suspect any flu-like symptoms after you have been tackling these rodents, then seek medical attention straight away.
Right, now that I have covered a little bit of history, habitat, breeding, and safety let’s move on to what I’ve been up-to as of late, as some of you already know I have being hitting the Grey Squirrel’s very hard lately, now that’s now come to a close for now, as the leaves and cover are now in their favour, I have moved on to a rat problem that’s arose from last month’s feature. I revisited the farm In question, to check It out properly this time, as last month’s visit was a fly-by, just to spread my new Air-Arm’s TDR’s wings, resulting In the bag of 9 rodents.
It’s a new permission that presented Itself through a close friend of mine, Les Martin, he runs his own Air Rifle shop In the town of Rugeley, and his close buddy who owns a cattle farm had a serious rat infestation that needed my urgent attention. On checking the farm I found ratty run’s everywhere and holes under the cattle shed’s. This was quite a bad situation, but the right guy for the job at hand is here for sure, If I couldn’t overcome this one, with my pest-control training and my Air-gunning experience I would retire right now.
I’ve been very fortunate as of late to get a few new bit’s of kit together, to help me on my quest to control our vermin population down to an acceptable level. With my new Air Arms TDR In .177 caliber, and my new Nite-Site Wolf unit from Scott Country I am well equipped for the job at hand.
I am not one of these caliber critics, both are great for any type of pest control or hunting, but I chose .177 caliber a long time ago, and It does the job perfectly, so try not to listen to anyone, that says, ” you need .22 caliber for ratting”, you don’t! As this very feature will prove otherwise, the only thing you have do Is take extra care, and keep to head-shot’s, that’s It. Believe me I have been ratting with Air Rifles for more year’s than I can remember, and my .177 caliber air-guns have put down rats without a twitch, no problem. So pick whichever rifle and caliber your comfortable with and enjoy It’s benefits, there all here to do a job, and will out shoot us every-time, we have to up our game, to keep up with our rifles, so It seems, however company’s are seeing this and working on the fit and customization, to make us more suited to shoot these ultra precision Instruments.
I planned my pest control foray for a Friday evening, as the weather forecast looked promising. I decided to take along my shooting sticks, and my Jack Pyke hide seat, so I would be very comfortable ambushing the scaly tails. On arrival I put down my preferred bait for the evening, which consists of one of our favorite chocolate spread’s which is Nutella. I mix the hazelnut spread with sunflower oil which keeps It runny, so the rat’s will stop and lap It up, rather than pick It up and run, resulting In lost chances.
I set up just In front of one of the cattle sheds looking In from the actual farmyard, as the landowner pointed out this Is a busy area for the rat’s. They arrive from the left through the stored machinery and tractors, to get to the feeding troughs. So I was right In the mix, hopefully to catch them out with my night vision.
As the light faded, and looking through the Nite-Site, I spotted my first opportunity of the evening heading towards the cattle feed. He paused just underneath the tractor , so I carefully steadied the ultra clear sight picture of my scopes reticle through the Nite-Site on the rat’s head and released the shot, It connected superbly, rolling ratty number one over cleanly with a nice head shot. My next chance presented Itself straight away, as another scaly tail appeared to sniff at It’s fallen brethren, so I lined my Bushnell’s cross-hair again just a tad under the rat’s ear, and pressed through the two staged trigger of my TDR, thwop! Ratty number two rolled over cleanly with another nice head-shot, confirming my brace.
My night foray was now under way, as yet another rat appears from the left of shed, this particular rodent didn’t stop until he got towards the cattle. He stopped and sniffed my runny Nutella bait, and started licking away, I let the large diseased rodent have a couple of scrumptious lick’s until my Air Arm’s TDR turned out his lights permanently, for my third of the night. Over the next half hour I managed to add another three scaly tails to my growing tally, resulting In six for the first area of the farm.
So I moved my shooting equipment and made way to my next ambush area, just around the corner. This Is where all the rat holes and run’s are, and It’s the most Infested position on the farm. I pitched down around 20 yards from all the rat holes, I had already baited the runs earlier, so all should be good. I switched on the Nite-Site Wolf and set the variation of the huge power of It’s three internal infra-red illuminators, I am so happy with this unit since I have had It. With the screen brightness set for my new position and range, It didn’t take long before two rat’s emerged to lap up my bait, that has never let me down on rats. I placed my super clear cross hair on the first rodent, and released the shot off, thwack! Ratty no more, as my .177 high speed Air Arms Field hit home hard. The other rat scampered, but returned within a minute, so I let off another shot that connected perfectly bowling the scaly tail backwards onto It’s back with a few kicks and the normal helicopter tail, that rat’s do when they have been hit with a accurate head-shot.
My night proved to be very successful, on my second location I added another eight rat’s taking my tally overall to 16, a number that is for sure well acceptable pest control. I then moved on to my final position by the entrance gate to the farm, this Is where the main grain store Is located, and this has a few ratty holes located right underneath the storage box, which Is a steel shipping container. I set up, standing behind a nice size hay bail about 16 yards away. They was quite a lot of movement here, as this location had a few younger rats present, however It didn’t stop me adding to my bumper bag of scaly tails, I added five more here on this particular location, giving me 21 for the session, and proving what an absolutely great night’s shooting I have had, well enjoyed for sure. The farmer was well pleased with my service the next day, when I sent him a picture of the fallen rat’s.
Well that’s it for this month folk’s, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, see you next time.