Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Airgunner Features

I have been asked by some overseas readers how i get on shooting these days. As i am writing for Airgunner i use most trips out for them so i wont use them here straight away but I will however put previous features on here as they have been out for a while now and hopefully other days out  will be added so i can get the blog going as i started. If you would like to order issues of Airgunner  for overseas readers you can go here ,http://www.airgunshooting.co.uk/magazine-details.aspx?id=136 you can also get a digital copy every month so no loosing magazines in the post.

This feature was a job clearing squirrels at a freinds house with my dad. It started off slow but the end results was more than what we hoped for.

As I have been looking through the forums lately I have noticed quite a few posts regarding shotguns. There has been a few arguments saying shot gunners have it easy,just point and shoot and its a kill every time. Now I am sure there is some truth in that as long as your George Digweed or Richard Faulds , but I am sure they will admit they do miss a few. I also get the feeling that Air rifle shooters would not think for one minute that they would benefit from going out shooting with someone with a shotgun, they do not realise how good an opportunity this could be to bag a few pests.
I got out quite often with my Dad if he is spending a day decoying, if there is a good sitty tree or a bit of wood near where he is shooting I will often stake out these places. I have always had a good day when I do this as quite often pigeons who are not committed to coming into his decoy pattern will often perch up close and watch for a while.This will give me a chance to take a shot and add to the bag.
This week my Dad was out shooting some woods for a farmers friend who had a few squirrels chewing the bark his new plantings. He has 7 acres of conifers in his back garden and these are the perfect breeding grounds for the grey squirrel. The owner has already had problems in the past as some of the squirrels had chewed through his roof and taken up residence in his loft. Now the plantings are getting chewed he his not a happy bunny and the call to cull a few was made.
It was around midday so i decided to give Dad a call and see how he was doing. He had been there for a couple of hours and had nothing, he had seen a few but once they had run to the tops of the trees even he could not get them with a shotgun as he could not see them. They had also been running him round the trees until he was getting dizzy so not wasting an opportunity I loaded the Rapid 7 in the car and off I went.
When I pulled up to the house I could see why the owner was a little upset about his house being invaded. It was a lovely stone and brick house set in a beautiful location, I would have given my left foot to live here its a shooters dream home. I met up with my Dad just behind the back garden and he explained what had happened again and we set out along the path to the far end of the wood.
We had got about 100 yards away when I noticed a squirrel hopping along the floor, before we even stopped it was off like a rocket all the way to the top of a tree, quickly I set to the tree and looked up to find it. This is when I could see the problems dad was having, even with the shotgun there was no way he could have shot the squirrel, there was so much cover at the top of the tree I do not think the shot would have got through.
As the trees were not planted so close to each other it gives you a chance to walk back and see the tops of the tree through the scope. I scanned the tree looking for the tell tale grey fur on the thin trunk but nothing could be seen, I then got my dad to walk away a bit more so he was opposite to me and there he came , I could see the squirrel come round my side of the tree while he was closely watching dad. I had a nice rest on the tree next to me and the .177 Webley Mozzie hit the squirrel full on and he tumbled to the ground stone dead. My Dad was happy now ,we had something to show the home owner at least but Dad knew there was more so off we went to look.
We had walked the wood up and down for about an hour and nothing had showed, it was not surprising as dad had scared a few earlier so we decided to go and have a walk around dads permission and see if any pigeons were about on the newly planted fields. As usual there were a few rooks pecking away at the soil but no pigeons. Walking back to the car Dad noticed a squirrel under an old oak tree, we were about forty yards away from it so I slowly edged myself along the tree line to see if I could get a little closer. If this had been a rabbit I would have felt confident of killing it at the distance we spotted it, but as a squirrel has a much smaller kill zone I felt I had to get as close as possible to insure a clean kill. I had managed to get within thirty yards without being seen and luckily for me I had a little log in front of me that I could kneel down in front and rest the rifle for a much more steadier shot. As I got the squirrel in the scope I could not believe how fat it was, it was the most scruffiest squirrel I had seen as well. I scoped the squirrel up nice and steady and squeezed the trigger, The pellet hitting bone made a loud crack and the squirrel curled itself up, a perfect clean kill again. As the pellet struck the squirrel two pigeons took flight out of the oak tree and headed straight for Dad, as I looked back Dad shouldered the shotgun and a left and right met the load of two 32grm no6 cartridges. Head swelling and a grin off he went to pick up his pigeons and me my squirrel.
That made me feel a little better , Dad had got a couple of quick shots off for all his efforts that morning and squirrel number two had been shot.
We decided to have a tea break then go for another walk through the wood, you never know there maybe something come back out now its quiet. As we were having a drink Dad noticed a squirrel playing with another about sixty yards into the wood, there was a nice green bush about half way to the tree the squirrels were in so of I went. I moved slowly into the wood but as I was walking I tried to keep a tree in front of me and the squirrels so my outline was covered, the squirrels were happily chasing each other and never even stopped to look around so that made it a lot easier to stalk them. The bush that I was aiming for soon came in front of me so I gently eased myself through the edge of the bush trying to keep my shape out of sight from the squirrels, the last thing I wanted was them to see me after what seemed an age getting to them. I got to the front of the bush and one of the squirrels was sitting on a branch, it was in clear view so I lifted the Rapid 7 slowly and got the cross hairs nicely on its head. A gentle squeeze of the trigger and squirrel number three died instantly. As I shot the squirrel its partner ran to the top of the tree, again out of sight.
Dad had made it over in quick time as we did not want to loose any today ,this could be the last squirrel of the day and to add it to the total would be even better for the land owner. I walked back as I had done before and and looked through the scope, I had a nice view through the branches and soon spotted it lying flat along a branch. I rested on a tree again for maximum steadiness and shot the squirrel stone dead.
Feeling pleased with myself we walked back to the house to see the home owner, through the corner of my eye I noticed a rabbit hopping through the bracken, I stopped Dad and looked through the scope. I could see a nice clear rabbits head looking straight at me no more than twenty five yards away, as usual I gently took the first stage of the trigger then the worst thing I could do happened. I thought to myself this is dead ,its the worst thing in my mind you can do before a shot, I take these shot for breakfast normally but when you say your dead the usual happens, "YES" you guessed it I missed, the easiest shot for a long time and I fluffed it. The rabbit gave me a quick look then hopped off down a hole.
We decided it was time to go and see the landowner and show him the bag, before we got to him we found a nice spot to take some pictures of what had been shot, as we were ready to take the pictures we heard the landowners wife shouting at us to "SHOOT IT" looking puzzled I looked up to what she was pointing at and noticed a magpie heading our way, Dad loaded quickly and lifted the shotgun to his shoulder and took the magpie cleanly over the top of the conifers.
Pictures now taken including the magpie we met with the landowners wife I and asked her what was wrong with the magpie, she informed me that it was trying to take the young blue tits out of a nest boxe and she had scared it off, luckily it came our way and it will not be doing that again. Dad had already seen this earlier and had waited for it to come back and had no joy, i would not have shot it myself just because someone shouted shoot it but he knew why and took the shot.
We showed the landowner the squirrels we had shot and his smile said it all, I am sure we got the nod to go again and he has mentioned some rabbits that need sorting on some other ground he has.
Now for anyone who gets the chance to do some shooting with a shot gunner, don't pass on it as you will never know what you have missed out on.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

NEW JACK PYKE PATTERN A HIT.

It has been a busy couple of months for me lately. It is no excuse for neglecting my blog as you the readers have kept me going for a long time. The magazine features has taken alot of my time up as you can never get thing right the first time so you are trying to go out and have a half decent day just to give readers something worth spending their hard earned cash at the newsagents. Although i have been writing for Airgunner i have also been testing a new pattern from Jack Pyke. It is called English Woodland and now it has been released i can give you a preview .. On first ispection when it arrived it was like the incredible hulk was stashed in the box. I thought crikey this is green and it took me a while to really get my head around it. Well that weekend i had to go and give it a propper try , there is no use in buying something or reviewing it unless it has had plenty of time in the field so i might aswell start now i thought.
Well three months on i am using it regular as the leaves are still on alot of trees so i am blending well. I have stalked a few more rabbits wearing it  than i used to and have also scared a couple but i have tried it against other top brands of clothing and there is no way they can beat this for concealment.I have had my best summer on pigeons without building hides all the time , lying out in open fields with a pod has been like taking candy from a baby where rabbits are concearned.
I would say this is more a spring summer pattern because of the total green colour but i think for night time shooting this is also spot on as it gives no light spots and you blend in with the night perfectly.

If you want a more suitable pattern for autumn , winter it will be hard to find a pattern that works as good as the Jack Pyke English Oak. And the prices that they sell for i really dont think it can be beat.

http://jackpyke.co.uk/index.php?page=3&act=viewCat&catId=51



You can see a full review in the january edition of AirGunner.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Watering Hole.

The last couple of times i have been out have proved to be pretty good. With the hot weather we have had i have been sitting around the different cattle water tanks and i have been getting some results.
Now the trees are in full leaf it is pretty hard to get near and pigeons or magpies as they see you well before you can see them, so if you can find a water source on your permissions it is worth putting a single decoy near it and you will find you can pull the odd pigeon in.
The last evening i decided to put one pigeon and a magpie decoy about ten yards from the tank. I always try to keep the decoys a bit away from where you want them to land as i feel they soon pick up on it not being real if its too close. I had been sitting for about fifteen minutes when my first pest presented itself. It was a magpie that had been flying back and forth for about five minutes, it had checked the decoy out a few times and finally decided all was ok. It had landed on a post right near the water tank and from thirty yards it was a nice simple shot as there was no wind to worry about. I had placed the cross on its eye and the mozzie soon knocked it off its perch.
I swapped the decoy for the real magpie as you can not beat the real thing and sat in wait for the next shot.
I didn`t wait long for my next one to arrive, a pigeon flew straight in for a drink from the tank, again it sat nice and presented me with a similar shot to the first and he fell to the floor thanks to the pellet hitting its skull smack on.
Again i changed my plastic decoy for the real thing. Ten minutes had passed befor the next pigeon flew in, this time it landed a couple of yards from the decoy. It had walked about for a few seconds looking , and checking the area out then flipped up onto the drinker. The crosshairs were soon settled on him and another smack sent pigeon number two to the floor. I set this pigeon near the other one to make it a little more realistic with a pair feeding.
I had been waiting a while until the next pigeon flew into the decoys, he was very interested in one of the decoys and started to get close, it had been walking about a bit but i could get a shot on him from behind,  the grass was covering his head a little but i had a nice shot between his shoulder blades . The pellet hit its mark in a split second and the pigeon fell forward , its tail lifted for a couple of seconds then nothing the pigeon was stone dead.
Time was getting on and the pigeons were now going to roost so i packed up and headed off . It proved that you can still keep in touch with the pests if you sit back and watch their feeding habbits. I will be back again and im sure i will get a few more to keep the farmer happy.


This month in AirGunner i go out with my dad and help him get a few squirrels, he is using his shotgun and you will be suprised who comes out on top.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Airgunner

It has been a busy month for me regarding shooting,although i have not posted on here whats been going on i have been writing features for Airgunner magazine. Writing has never been my strong point as im sure many of the viewers on here would have read, but i like to put my outings in text as i do it. There is no half hour of talking about trees ,plants and whatever el`s someone could come up with, i like to put you in my situation and make you feel that its you taking the shot ,if that is possible and hopefully that will make a better read.
 I thought writing features for the magazines would be easy,just go out shoot something and write about it, how wrong could i have been. Well taking pictures is the worst thing i have come across so far, there are so many things that can make the seemingly easy pose a headache. I wont go into to much detail but take a picture from my first feature,i had been waiting for a jackdaw to come into range and just sit long enough for a shot,i did manage to get the shot off in the end but when it came to take a picture of me in the same position as i took the shot from it all went pete tong. For the one shot i needed  we must have took 20 pictures.  I blinked ,the sun went in for a second as the picture was taken , there was a little shadow in the wrong place, there was a twig that did not look right near me .I could go on for ever but at least you can get the idea.
When writing the features i like to plan my day well in advance, I decide where i am going  ,what i am shooting, where the best spots are going to be , i want to make the best of the situation so the readers can get the best out of the feature. I also try and add a little to help the readers gain some information that will hopefully get them a shot that might not have presented itself before, there are certain ways to get to quarry , make quarry come to you , there is always some little trick that could help the reader go from blank days to having a few shots and bagging a rabbit or pigeon for the pot.
Last month i had a situation where i could not shoot rabbits as it was very windy . I didn`t like the idea of wounding them so i opted for an afternoon in some woods that was sheltered.It proved to be a good session in the end, and having the chance to swap from one ground to another at short notice gave me the chance to write about what i had done and got the feature done on time.
In this months Airgunner i went into the hills with some friends from the rapid7owners.com. The weather was not perfect , Granted it was dry and very sunny but there was  quite a bit of wind.We over come the wind and managed to produce a bag of rabbits totaling 110.

If you would like to read more about what went on you can buy  Airgunner from most newsagents or subscribe to get the mag early every month and at a very good rate here..  http://www.airgunshooting.co.uk/

Here is some pictures of a couple of pests that added to the total  from the May feature and a sneak preview of July feature.





.Catch you soon .eddie

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

MOLES KEEP ME BUSY

On one of my permissions i have been out on the mole hunt.The farmer is getting on a bit and he was struggling to keep ontop of them so like the nice guy i am (cough cough) i offered to take over and sort them out.
There are two types of traps i use,the first is the claw trap.


 This traditional  mole trapping method is  effective and makes it simple to trap and catch a mole or moles .

To set these mole  traps is easy. The base of the  claw trap  is inserted into the mole run or mole tunnel which are easy to locate as mole hills are found along these runs or tunnels. The handle section of the claw trap, which is pincer like, protrudes above ground level. A mole cought  is evident when this pincer like handle springs apart.
These claw traps are easy to set and insert into the mole run and are one of the best and most effective  mole traps available for catching  moles.

The other trap i use are the duffus tunnel trap

This  tunnel  trap , is one of the best and most effective  mole traps for catching moles. These traps are a now taking over as the prefered method. They are an effective pest control method to trap and get rid of moles.

The  tunnel catch trap  is a well and old established design in mole traps and gives effective mole eradication and control.
The tunnel catcher trap is easy to set and very efficient in getting rid of  mole  problems .

Alot of trappers prefer to use the tunnel traps over the claw , but i catch just as well with both traps.
so far i have had 22 in 12 days and there are more fresh holes coming up daily over the permission so it looks like i am going to be busy for a while.

A couple of months ago me and dad were controling foxes on a permission with his 22.250,we had noticed a new run in one of the fields a couple of weeks ago so we had baited it up and decided to sit in wait and hopefully get it on its patrol`s.
We had waited for a couple of hours and the light was just beginning to fade when i noticed the fox coming up the fenceline.I had watched it for a couple of minutes when it decided to come round the hill we were waiting on.The rifle was ready loaded and ready to take the shot so i stood up to take a look where it was.
As i stood up i noticed it quater back and was heading straight for the bait.As it came across me i had the crosshair on its heart ,one squeek to stop it and the bullet flew straight to its mark.The fox lay stone dead  as me and dad walked over.This was a welcome boost as the young rabbits are taking a bashing from hungry foxes,so hopefully one less means a few more rabbits later on in the year..





Wednesday, 21 April 2010

SPRING IS HERE AT LAST

What a difference a month makes.This month has been a very busy one for me on the shooting front.I had a call from a farmers freind who had got a few rabbits wreking his garden.He asked if i could pop round and assess the situation and advise him on how he could get rid of them.The problem was they were coming from the fields that border his garden,he had rabbit fencing up but it had only been dug in about 6 inches so they had gone under.I took a walk around the boundary and found the main run they had made,it was in some rough ground at the bottom of his garden.I had advised him to set some snares as there was some good runs but he had cats so he didn`t want those getting cought.The other option was to shoot them with an air rifle,this he agreed to and as i had it in the car i decided to stop on and see what was going to come in for the last couple of hours.
I settled myself behind a couple of old pallets and it was only 20 minutes wait when the first rabbit showed,it was only a young one but as its a rabbit it had to go.Nothing more showed in the next half hour so i took a look over the fence and seen a few young rabbits feeding outside a small warren on the farmers side.A quick chat to farmers freind and i had permission to shoot what was in that warren.
I tucked myself behind the fence 30 yards from the warren and got 90 minutes shooting before i had to pack up.In total i got 6 young rabbits and a smile from the owner.Hopefully it will lead to more shooting as there is mum and dad to get yet and the farmer has more rabbits to shoot.If i keep the freind happy who knows i might get the bordering farm too.

In the week the sun came out to produce a very nice morning,me and dad decided to go for a walk around the woods and see what was about.It didn`t take long for us to both be in the action as we seen and shot a few squirrels.The first wood produced  two for dad who takes no prisoners with his shotgun now.

on the way to the second wood dad noticed a squirrel in the plantation,it was mooching around a log pile so i sneaked upto the fence and rested the rapid on a post,a quick look and i had the scope on him in seconds,a nice shot spun the squirrel of the logs and number three was in the bag.



The next hour seen one more squirrel hit the floor, i managed to see before dad and took it right out the top of a conifer.

It was getting late afternoon now so we decided to wait up and get some pigeons coming in.Dad took up the front end of the wood  with the shogun and any that went passed him and decided to land in the far end i would have.I could hear dad having a few shot and nothing showed for me untill at least an hour.A magpie had come in the oaks and was bussy chattering away,unaware i was 40 yards from him he just kept hopping from tree to tree till he was 25 yards away,he was looking about so it got on him quick and took a nice clean headshot.

Another 15 minutes later i head dad take a shot and three pigeons came my way.I had the gun up ready to get the crosshairs on the first that gave a clear shot,a nice shot to the neck sent the pigeon head first and thumping the wood floor.

A squirrel in the last 10 minutes proved the last shot for me so i decided to go and see how dad got on.He had four pigeons when i got to him so he had a bit of shooting to finish the day off.


We have also been around the paddocks ,fox control is on the agenda and i have been busy mole trapping on one of my permissions,all will be added soon.

cheers eddie..

   

Saturday, 13 March 2010

ITS GETTING HARDER NOW

It has been a while since my last post  but i have been out once or twice a week trying to get something together.We have still been clearing squirrels but it has got really hard now.The main reason because we have shot so many,but what is left in the woods are sitting tight or the females are nesting up with young.
Squirrels have two breeding seasons, one late winter - early spring and one late summer, so when you find woods with squirrels running everywhere one month you will find that you dont see many until the kits come out the month after that, if it falls in these times of the year.The best time to find them out then will be first light as the female will be feeding for milk production but will be holed up for the rest of the day with the kits.
I try not to shoot them if i dont have too while they have kits but the main shoots i have with woods are the ones where i need to shoot all year round.I will be patroling these woods regular for now until the leaves open out and make it to hard to see them,then it will be back to rabbit control.
While i was out on my local shoot i noticed a few pigeons sitting in a big oak,they are using it for a resting place in between feeding.There is no way you can get to them without being seen so the next day i got there while they were feeding and set up a quick hide with some dried bracken.It was nice to just sit there and wait for a few shots,  the sun was out ,it was nice and warm and i had a good view of a few fields that i could watch for any rabbit activity for future shoots.
Shooting pigeons with an air rifle is one of the hardest ways to get them in my opinion,they have eyes like a hawk and at the slightest of movement they scatter.I have sat there sometimes going through the motions of picking the gun up and sliping the silencer through the hole that i make  so when one comes in i am like a well oiled stealth machine,well i try to be but it dont always work,theres always one that takes off with a loud clap just to let you know your slipping and to get your act together.
On this occasion i was in the groove,i didnt get the bag i was hoping for but i did manage to get what landed.It was a slow couple of hours but three came in and three didn`t leave.While i was walking back to the car i noticed 100+ pigeons on some other trees the far side of the ground so i was in the wrong place for a big bag anyway.

Another day i went for a walk on another peice of ground i have local to me.I had walked round for about two hours and seen nothing,It was getting a little late so i decided to call it quits and was in for my first blank for aslong as i could remember.I decided to walk back across some fields that have never produced anything for aslong as i have had the ground and it was the quickest route back to the car,but near one of the gates there stood the lonely figure of a rabbit.I got on all fours and crawled 40 yards to get within distance and take a shot,i looked up and there he was still sitting there so i got steady and took the shot.As i walked over to him a rabbit ran from where i had shot that one,i was so sure i had got him and once i got closer i was greeted by the rabbit i had shot at stone dead.So now i had seen two in the badlands so could things be looking up for  future walkabouts.As i got near the car i had a magpie that was feeding on the horse poo pile aswell so that made it a better end to the day.Blank averted i set off home.



















Well friday saw me and dad back on the squirrel trail and as there was a few pigeons about we hoped we could have a couple of those aswell.We had been through two woods and not even had sight of anything,then i noticed dad pick his gun up and bang one squirrel hit the deck.


That seemed to wake him up as he took a pigeon two minutes later just as i was getting ready to take a picture.I walked the other wood back and forth for ages untill i saw one tight against a branch,it was a nice clear shot and took him out.

It took another 15 minutes to find another one,it ran across to another tree so this time i let dad have his chance as he had his shotgun and he dispatched it nice and clean.

 There wasn`t nothing showing now so we decided to drive to another wood and see what we could get in the last hour there.As it was getting on i decided to stay in one place at the far end of the wood and wait for any pigeons coming in and dad stayed near the car at the top end.I hadn`t waited long when a few pigeons dropped in the trees and i managed to take one out.The next 15 minutes proved worth the move as i had two squirrels chasing each other up a tree covered in ivy.I waited patiently for one to give me a shot and made no mistake sending it to the floor.Its mate had shot right to the top of the tree and it took me a few minutes but i found it in the scope looking over a branch,it must have been wondering what had happened to its mate as it had no idea i was there.I leant against the tree again and sent another pellet skywards and he joined his mate on the wood floor aswell.As i went out to pick those two up another shot up a tree about 20 yards from me, i stood as still as i could and as he neared the top of the tree he stopped to look back,that was all the time i needed and he too came down to earth with a sore head.I decided to walk back and see how dad had got on when i saw another squirrel feeding under one of the bins,it was only 30 yards away so i rested on a tree took aim and missed.I couldn`t beleve it,the easiest shot and i fluffed it.

Well luckily , as i was about to carry on a pigeon dropped in the tree right above me,so i put the cross under its chin and knocked him of his perch.


















When i got back to dad he had not had as much luck as me,he had struggled to get anything in range and had just  the one shot at a crow which he took well and dropped him stone dead.



While i was shooting yesterday i had a call from one of the gamekeepers that i beat for , for the last two weeks they have been finding sheep running free and cows everywhere they shouldn`t be.Then this week he had been out foxing and noticed a lamp shining across a field.He had watched from a distance with his foxing partner through nightvision scopes and there was a group of lads with running dogs coursing hares.They had gone to confront them and  found them to be a group of travellers.They got the usuall verbal so called the police.Now this is where the law really does my head in.The police found the group about half a mile away,still on the estate but walking on a footpath , at 3am. The report the gamekeeper got was that they were taking the dogs for a walk and as they found them on a footpath there was nothing they could do.How obvious has it got to be that they were coursing the hares,so today we had a group of us and had to do a hare cull.
Now i like to see some hares about and to have to shoot them because someone thinks they can go round and do what they like on someone else`s land really turns my stomach,but we went and shot a good number and hopefully the travelers wont think its worth coming back for the odd one.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

SNOW DONT STOP US REAPING OUR REWARDS

Just as we think the milder weather is coming we get another covering of the white stuff.Personally i like shooting once the snow has dropped,everything  is looking harder for food as they have to eat to keep warm,they forage for food longer than normal and it makes controling the pests a little easier.
As you have seen from the last few posts on the blog Squirrels  have been the main quarry,this has been a long drawn out operation to bring the squirrels under control for the land owner but we have managed to do it ,  his warm welcomes and thanks we recieve every time he see`s us makes it all worthwhile and can only promote how effective getting lads in to do a job ,safely and without any problems with the locals it can be.
There are pest control firms that could charge an arm and a leg for what we have done, but i would rather do a good job for nothing, and get more land this way , than having to go round and tap up farmers who would rather shut the door on you than give you the chance to show how reliable and what an assett you could be to them.
Shooting squirrels can be easy for the first few weeks,They will have had no bother from humans , so it makes getting in range a fair bit easier.When after a few of their mates have been shot its a different story,exocet missiles comes to mind ,even when your a hundred yards away from them they know the score,so its time to draw up another plan of attack.
This was where the shotguns came into it.The squirrels now would run for cover on the floor,the rabbit holes were proving a safe haven for those that had worked out that running down was safer than going up to the top of the trees.The air rifle was no good but the shotgun proved very effective for a couple more weeks.We got very good numbers this way and we thought we had cracked it.
Well a chat to the landowner had proved we had dramatically reduced the numbers , but he had still seen a few on his walks round with the dogs.Not wanting to be downheartened by his words we decided next time to give the woods a good sweep through and see if we could get more that way.
This time i had my rapid and dad the shotgun.
As we were combing the woods we seen nothing for hours and was wondering if he was seeing the same squirrel everytime he came out , but the next few hours proved there was more to these little grey rats than we could have imagined.
As we were having a cuppa i was sat looking up the trees and noticed a small lump sticking out from a branch,thinking nothing of it i carried on chatting to my dad and finish my drink.Picking the rifle up i just couldn`t help myself but look through the scope at this lump on the branch,to my suprise it was a foot of a squirrel,he was so tight to the branch that he could have passed for a skinned squirrel draped over it.I got dad to get his shotgun ready incase it ran and i walked back untill i could get a shot on its head.Luckily for me it didn`t run so i was able to get the cross on the spot and pull the trigger ,sending the lead for a possitive smack and resulting in a squirrrel hitting the floor.

Now this got me thinking about how many we had walked passed while we had the shotguns, complacency sets in with shotguns as you are just strolling through expecting the squirrels to bolt and you get them,so with not seeing many you think you have got them.These had learn`t quickly again that now staying put proved they survived for another day.
We decided to go to the hotspot that had produced most squirrels on the ground,we walked together now keeping to the plan if it ran the shotgun got it ,if it stayed put i would get it with the rapid.It didn`t take long for me to find one,we had lost a couple before up this old oak tree,thinking they had gone down woodpecker holes as we couldnt find them, we just carried on,this time i scanned the tree all over with the scope and as i looked at what i thought was a bulge in the main trunk was the back of a squirrel.He had squeezed into a crack in the bark, it was so much like the colour of the tree we had probarbly looked at it many times before and took it to be nothing out of the ordinary.I could just manage to see its ear and pointed it out to dad and passed him the rapid,He couldn`t beleve what he saw and just as i thought he was going to give me the rapid back he shot it.Now i dont know if this is unsporting or what,the sitters were mine ,runners his,this had been set in stone but he still had to shoot it and laugh at me as it fell.I just looked at him trying to look a little peed off but the smile soon came as it always does.

Now dad knew what to look for we soon got it together and found two more that you would have walked passed time and time again,it just goes to show how quick these little critters learn to survive.


Just as we was walking to the next wood the snow started , we decided to go for a quick cuppa as we couldn`t see the end of the cloud and as he is getting old i didnt want dad to suffer getting cold and wet.
Now the forcast for today was very light snow showers,the blizzard we got was crazy,the snow had melted on most of the fields and in the wood but within thirty minutes of this light snow shower everywhere was covered again.Thank god we had gone to the car as we would have been like snowmen in minutes.Its at times like this that the link to the met office on the blog is very lucky its not deleted.

Snow shower over we set off again,this time its was to a little wood that has the odd conifer and alot of chestnut.We scanned the trees for ages in this wood and just as we thought  it was empty one ran up a chestnut and hid.This is where two people are a must , the branches on these trees are very thick and you could walk round it for hours chasing the same squirrel round and round the same branch without even getting sight of its tail,never mind its head.I took a back seat here and just watched where i last saw the squirrel run and sent dad off to walk round the tree.As he was about three quaters of the way round i saw his shotgun go up,i looked up to where he was pointing and could see the squirrel looking down at him from a V in the branch,It didn`t even know i was there as it was watchin dad so i took aim and shot it before dad could get it,(revenge is sweet),as the grin to dad showed.It still had the cone in its mouth that it had been eating.

Just as we took the picture we noticed another squirrel running from one of the conifers so like a flash dad was hot on its heels and one shot brought it down to earth with a bump.From the picture you can see how well his camo clothing blends in with the background.


The light was fading now so we decided to walk back to the car and let the landowner know how we had got on,on the way back dad took a pigeon out that was coming in to roost,to be fair it was a good shot through the trees but i didn`t give him to much praise as he is getting pretty cocky now he has shot for a few weeks with the shotgun.
Right near the car i got a chance at a crow,it was sitting right at the top of a conifer about 40 yards away,i put the first mil dot just behind its eye and down he came with a thump.


Well that was it for the night and a happy landowner said his thanks again and hoped we would keep coming back now and then to keep on top of them,we will be there often ,as there are a few rabbits that will need our attention in the summer and we wont miss a chance to bag a few.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

A GOOD DAY ALL ROUND

This outing was split in two halves,the first was a try on the squirrels with the .177 and then on to another wood for some roost shooting.
we started off on the ground that has produced alot of squirrels this winter,i had a quick zero check and all was well,my old man had decided on the shotty as he was going to take any runners while i took the branch huggers.
The first squirrel we spotted had run to the top of a tall conifer,with it being thick near the top i sat back and let my old man walk round the tree to get in a better possition just incase it ran.As he was walking i noticed it move , so i looked through the scope and could see it looking over a branch ,resting on a tree i took aim on its head and let fly.It dropped to the ground stone dead,a nice clean shot right on the money.After taking a quick picture we left it for our fox freinds.



















The next wood we split up , you have trees with alot of holes in here so the shotgun proves the best way of getting them.The first squirrel proved to slow for the old man and 2 shots later i heard the thump of it hitting the floor.As he took his shots i noticed two squirrels run up an old tree,I walked over and watched it for any movement until the old man came over.We must have looked up this tree for ten minutes and could not see nothing,i got a bit of stick here as my old man was saying i was seeing things and there was no way a squirrel up this tree never mind two.
As we walked away i looked back and noticed what looked like a small lump ontop of a thick branch,i looked through the scope and to my suprise there he was , looking so sneaky over the branch.I rested again on a tree and shot him stone dead, as he was falling the other squirrel decided to go on a runner and he was put to rest by me dad.
It just goes to show how tight these little beggars can lie on a thick branch and you wouldn`t even know they was there. Another picture and we was off again.



















My dad had seen another squirrel and was off like a rocket after him,i walked up near the tree he was looking at and watched for any movement while he was walking round to find him.I seen the squirrel right at the top of the tree but there was a few branches between us,i knew if i moved he would know i was there so resting again i could just see a way through to him.
It was going to be a tight shot through the branches and for this reason only i have swapped to .177.If this had been the .20 the curve of the pellet would have been a clear branch hit,there would have been no way to get the pellet through , if i had been on my own it would have resulted in a squirrel running off after seeing me move trying to get a clearer shot.
With the flatness of the .177 i was able to squeeze the pellet through the gap and hit the squirrel smack in the forehead.

The last wood we went into was very quiet,i walked down a path near some houses,now i dont mean town houses ,there is two houses in the middle of nowhere that back on to the wood and theres always a squirrel here but i have always had the shotgun lately so i dont shoot near them.As i came near to the end of the path i noticed a lump on the end of a branch right by one of the houses,was it or wasnt it,i looked through the scope and sure it was , a nice squirrel eating a cone,he didn`t even know i was there.
I tucked myself against a tree and watched him for a while,five minutes had passed when he finally decided to move across a couple of trees and give me a shot that if i missed the pellet would fall away from the house.
This shot turned out to be as near to the one i last had,loads of branches in the way but a nice hole to squeeze one through,the .20 would have been useless again.This one met his maker too and still had a nut in his mouth to take with him for a snack on his way to squirrel heaven.

On the way back to the car dad had spotted a rabbit move in some brambles,I took a look through the scope and could see him sitting inside looking at us.I took a kneeling shot this time just to make sure i was as steady as i could be and took the shot,a white belly confirmed it had hit the right spot and off we went to pick up the prize.We was greeted by the dreaded sight of mixy , now that was two grounds with mixy still on them,with all the cold weather we have had i thought it would have died down a bit.
It looks like we are going to have to go out and get on top of them with mixy and hopefully the young ones will have a chance to grow healthy this year.


The next session we both used the shotguns as we were after pigeons now.We decided to take a walk round the wood we was going to shoot the pigeons in and within minutes a squirrel took off above us.I let it run on a bit to get it in the clearer branches and it proved no mach for a 32grm shell.This shot had spooked a few pigeons and one came over nicely for dad and he took that one out no problem,what a start this was.This was the signal to split up and not waste time walking around,as the pigeons were alredy coming into the wood we dicided to pick our spots and wait it out till we finished.
Things were slow for me ,i was getting odd pigeons coming over but not in the numbers we had seen when i was beating in the wood through the winter.I could only put it down to it getting milder and the need to tuck up in the wood wasn`t there today.I had rang a mate up to join us as another gun is helping push any pigeons around that could otherwise settle down where we are not shooting.
Well two hours had passed and for 16 shots i had ten pigeons,i had to resort to taking higher birds just to have some shooting and with the shots i had heard from dad it wasn`t looking good for him either.
I decided to pack up and collect the birds i had shot and got my mate to take a quick picture for the feature then go and see how dad had got on.

He had the same problem as me ,he had taken some high birds aswell and some had fell a bit away from him.I sent dee in to look for some and she found two while dad had found his other birds.He had also took another squirrel while he was walking to his spot so it turned out not bad in the end.

Hopefully we will get some cold nights again and the pigeons will soon be back to keep warm in the conifers.We will be waiting for them again.
We will try to get out foxing in the week so will post any news on here as it happens.

THE .20 BOWS DOWN TO THE .177

Deciding to change caliber can be a very hard decision to make,you spend years of practice knowing your ranges,you get to know the hold under and hold over to such a degree of accuracy that it becomes second nature, and you dont think about the shot,its there in your head,a built up graph on your points of impact,so when the thought to turn my rapid7  to .177 from my usual .20 started circling in my head i had to sit back.I weighed up all the pro`s and cons,looked at my rifle and thought she is never going to be the same again,it was like i was pulling her guts out,she had served me well , it was a long hard scary decision  but one i am hoping proves right.
Heres my account on changing caliber`s over on my rapid7 and how the first session went with it.
The first thing to think about when doing the calibre change is the new barrel,are you going to buy new or second hand.The only trouble with buying second hand is you never know how good its going to be,you think why is he selling it,does it shoot like a shot gun.The same could be said about my barrel, but with being on a few shooting forums and helping out on the rapid7ownersclub you soon get to know a few lads that can shoot and the trust builds up between members,so the decision to buy second hand is made easier.
When changing the calibre on a rapid 7 it not just a case of taking your barrel off and slotting the new one home,there is also the pellet probes to think of ,all calibers have different sizes as the pellets are bigger and deeper in different calibre`s so the probes will be longer for say .177 and shorter for .22.
If possible you will be better off getting the probes that fitted the barrel in the first place if buying second hand as the faces will be matched and should be a snug fit.If your doing a change on some other pcp the probes are usually sealed by orings so this isn`t as critical as a rapid7 so you could buy straight from the factory and not have the headaches with sealing as you can get with other guns.
The next thing to weigh up is the magazines,at £50 a go is it cost effective to do all this and it not work for you,granted you can buy second hand again but at £30-35 for them it could pay to buy new for what extra it does cost.
I decided to advertise on the forum to do a calibre swap,this way i knew everything i got was matched up and hopefully if the barrel i got shot straight everything els would go smoothly.
It didn`t take long for a swap to be arranged,luckilly for me a member with two guns in .177 wanted to try the .20 and as he lived locally there was no worries of losing parts in the post and we could both see what we was getting condition wise.
The swap went smoothly on the day and it didn`t take long for me to get my bag of bits and start putting the rapid back together.
While i was reasembling my gun i decided that a complete overhaul was on the cards, so i changed all the orings and polished parts that i knew would make it run smoother once back together.
Now with all the bits back in order it was time for a chrono test.This went well it was shooting pretty consistent and a couple of  tweaks on the reg had it shooting a nice 11.4ftlb and a 5fps variation over 34 shots.Thats more than i could have hoped for considering 2 hours before it was a .20 .
Next it was a zero session.I started off using AA field weighing 8.4 grains it took a mag to get it  zeroed but it wasn`t as accurate as my .20 , no need to panick here as no barrel likes every pellet,so off to the cupboard and get some webley mozzies.These are 7.9 grains and to be fair i like a lighter pellet just to get the shot as flat as possible.
Now we were talkin,this barrel loves the mozzies.Once zero was found i shot two mags in a target at 20 yards and the hole was smaller than a 5p now thats what i call accurate, 34 shots and everyone a killer.
Next i decided to go up the farm and try a further zero at 30yards it shot just the same ,50 yards was a ragged hole with the odd one going off due to me not trying so hard with the very slight breeze as it seemed to just hit the target itself.
Well i decided to have a walk round a couple of fields while i was here ,just incase something decided to show itself.Half hour later still walking round and nothing ,it had snowed ,hailed and was now raining so i decided to call it a day and headed off back to the car.Just before i got back i noticed something sitting under the hedgrow about 70 yards away , a quick scan through the scope confirmed a rabbit.Between me and the rabbit was a water tank for the cattle so i squatted down and started the slow crawl to the tank.Now this is not recomended for anyone with bad knees as i could feel the water soon getting through my trousers and my gloves, by the time i had got 30 yards to the tank my knees were frozen ,they were so numb but this rabbit was going to be the first kill for the .177 so i wasn`t bothered.
Looking over the tank i could see the rabbit ,he was looking slightly away from me so made it easier to slide the gun ontop of the tank and get into a comfortable position to aim.I put the cross just the side of his ear and gently pulled the trigger,not taking my eye from the scope i watched him roll over and that was curtains for him.What a start one shot 1 kill.
When i got to him i noticed the tell tale signs of mixy,no wonder he was out in this weather, all i could think was could i have got closer without going on my bloody knees and getting soaked.Maybee , maybee not ,knowing my luck it would have ran off ,this way it was put out of its misery and was suffering no more.

Well that was it my first test of the .177 and its proved well.I will be giving the rapid a propper outing next and will see how it can handle itself against squirrels,as this was the main reason for swapping.
All will be revealed soon..

Monday, 1 February 2010

BEATERS DAY

Well the end of the pheasant season has fast approached and after weeks of beating for the guns this week was our turn to bag a few.
I do beat on a couple of shoots but the shoot that i am featuring today is a small syndicate shoot that takes place around a 100 acre wood.There isn`t alot of birds left this time of year so anything between 20-40 birds is a good day for us as they only shoot 50 birds on the main days,the trouble on our day is there`s only usually 2 dogs in the line and they are like headless chickens that can run through the drive before the beaters have got ten yards and the guns that have shot all year are like a bunch of  OAP`s so any rough cover that holds the birds often get a little over looked.With most shoots a beaters day consists of two teams of beaters , one will stand and shoot while the other team beats,once that drive is over the teams swap over to give the first team a standing shot,this will be the pattern untill the day is finished but on the shoot in this feature its the guns that have shot all year that beat for us.
The day starts off in the meeting room,coffe and a drop of whisky is passed around while we get all the names in the book and you get your number of birds that you think will be shot put in for the swepstake.
After all the banter and paperwork done its time to pick your stand number for the first drive,usually on this shoot there is eight guns but today there was nine of us,so there was a back gun on most drives.
After all the stand numbers were picked the safety talk was read out by the shoot captain , this is the most important part of the morning and you should take notice as failure to do so could result in a very serious if not fatal accident.
Now all thats sorted it was off to the first drive,i had picked number nine so as i had no stand and on this drive , you cant be a back gun as the birds going back will be facing guns anyway so i decided to go out in the field at that side of the wood that has no guns on.This was a sneaky tactic as i dog the hedgde in here with another beater and we are on stop once we get to the wood , At the start of the drive we usually see a few birds break out here so i thought i was in for a little shooting myself.
Well the whistle went and i was at the ready and was still at the ready half way through,nothing so far, i thought to myself  that i should walk down a bit just incase one broke out further down but i walked and walked and for the first week in 11 nothing showed,thats just typical on my part i though but hey theres more drives to go.
The drives are close together here ,with it beeing a wood  you are just playing catch up all day, so it wasn`t long before we was ready for the next drive ,this time i was number two,with most shoots on every drive your stand number will go up by two numbers so this gives every gun a chance to get at least two good stands through out the day.This stand can throw up a couple of birds and it wasn`t long before i got my first go.A cock bird had broke out infront and started to double back,it came between me and another gun but i had got a bead on him quickly and took him out just behind,a quick smile towards my neighbour and we was ready for another.
A few minutes had passed and the beaters had got infront of us when there came a call came for a partridge coming back towards us,the gun at my left got first shot but he missed and as he only had a single shot gun i had the chance to get him and i didnt dissapoint the beaters for their efforts.
That was it for this drive as the rest of the birds went forward and after we picked up and took the birds to the cart, it seemed most of the birds kept on going forward aswell.
We missed the next drive out that we usually do as there isn`t many birds in it and moved on to the drive that produces at least 20 birds towards the total bag.I was in the pen this drive and it usually produces a few birds as they are pushed right towards me,this drive has head high brambles most of the way so its perfect cover for the pheasants and is the only part of the wood with this much ground cover.
Well i could go on and on how rubbish this drive turned out to be as the beaters only got about six birds to fly and they all went where there was no gun.This can only be put down to only having two dogs on the drive and there is no way you can get birds to fly from here just by hitting the bushes,its just to thick and the birds were either sitting tight or running back between the beaters.
Well that was the morning drives over and time for soup and a pork pie that was suplied by the shoot captain.This is where our shoot differs from alot of the mainstream corporate shoots.Every week the guns bring dinner for the whole team on the day and the beaters are fed first,then when dinner has been eaten the shoot captain comes round with a nice shot of whatever the guns will be drinking.They take all the banter that we can throw at them when they miss and you feel part of the day rather than bird scarers for a load of toffs.
Dinner over and off to the next drive.My stand was on the edge of a pitt hole,this produces a few birds early on and i was ready while other guns were still unzipping there cases.As usual the oposite happened and nothing showed,a few birds were shot further down the wood and a couple were missed by the single shot to my left but that was it ,another cold stand for nothing.
As there was not many birds showing we decided to miss a couple of not so good drives out and go for the last big drive.We have cleared a few trees on this drive so it gives the guns a little more time to see the birds coming and the birds seem to get up better now,so off to my stand and i had high hopes this time.
The drive started and i could hear shots going off  both left and right of me but nothing came to me for what seemed like an age.The gun to my right had missed three nice birds and when one came while he was re loading i took my chance and shot a nice hen with the second barrel.Another couple of minutes passed and through the corner of my eye i just cought a partridge flicking over the trees infront of me,i dont know how i got it but i hit it full on with my first shot and fell like a brick through the trees.
My last bird came late on and was a nice hen coming straight at me over a tall tree.I followed it through the thick branches and plucked her out of the sky as she came into the open.
I will confess that i had a cock straight after, that a blind man could have hit and i missed with both barrels,just aswell no one was looking as i said it was a screamer and was just to fast to my mate next door.
Well that was it for the day,we only managed 22 birds on the day but it was put down to no dogs on the main drive and severely crushed our chance of beating the guns for a second year.
We will be going for a bit of roost shooting this week so will hopefully get a few pictures and will report the bag as usual.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

CHARLIE GETS IT AT LAST

Well all can i say is ."Well done pops" at last he got his first fox with the 22-250.
It has been our third outing now for my old man to bag a charlie with his .22-250.The first two outings we did manage to get a shot off for him but his confidence wasn`t very high with the new toy and he did miss it.So it was back to the range and get him used to all the routine needed to pull the shot of relaxed and 100% sure he will kill the fox.
Well he was comfortably hittin 1 1/2  inch groups at 100 yards so we decided to go out as it had forcast a break in the snow.
We pulled up on the ground at about six o clock and pulled up on the top of a bank with the wood behind us so we didn`t stick out like a sore thumb in the light conditions.We could get a good view of a couple of field here and the shot was down hill so there was no question that an unsafe shot was going to happen.
Well i got  the squeaking job and was sent out in the now started again snow fall to try and call one in.The old man smugly looking through the window of the vitara all nice and warm.I had been calling for about 10 mins and had a scan across the fields when i noticed the diamond eyes of a fox about 150 yards,the only problem was we had a 50ft oak tree between us and a shot just wasn`t possible,i called the old man out who was nearly asleep as it was that warm in the car to get ready and showed him where charlie was.
After another 15 minutes of calling the fox finally came into the middle of the field and sat looking at us.This was it my old mans first charle.
No it wasn`t ,the fox had turned just as the trigger was pulled and it resulted in a clear miss,i could have cried,i had been out in the bloody freezing cold ,i looked like a bloody snowman and for all my effort he missed it.Me old man could have cried i could have clubbed him with the gun,but hey we dont hit everything do we,if it was that easy we would all give up shooting as it would be boring.
Well after the dissapointment of the miss and 30 fags later while i was getting warmed up we moved on to another part of the shoot.I had called been calling for a good 30 minutes and nothing showed here so off we went again and drove to roughly where the first charlie had been.The snow had started again now so as before the smug git stayed inside to keep warm while i was at the calling game again.
Bingo it didn`t take long this time , i found eyes shining back where the first fox had ran to when it was missed,could this be the same one.Ten minutes had passed and the eyes had dissapeared back into the wood ,he was having none of it,we could have had a shot but i wasn`t comfortable with the old man shooting into the wood as you cant see what branches could be between him and us ,so i gave it 5 minutes and started calling again.As i was scanning with the lamp i noticed in the trees some 80 yards from where i had seen the fox his eyes again.I called a little quieter this time and it did the trick, he came out onto the edge of the wood and settled looking straight at us.
The old man resting on the truck took aim and let the bullet fly,I didnt hear the plop as you usually get when the bullet hits so i wasn`t holding out for this one but up came a pair of eyes right where he had been and this confirmed he wasn`t going anywhere.We got up to where he was and we were greeted by a dog fox in lovely condition lying stone dead.Now my old man was beaming he had finally got his first kill, i couldnt be more happy for him,all the range work had finally paid off.

Inspecting the fox i found it had been hit just under the eye and had a nice clean exit wound out its back,it wasn`t going anywhere in hurry.Now we are looking forward to our next outing, me feeling more confident in the old mans shooting and even more excited as its my turn to shoot at last.








Yesterday i had been invited on a small pheasant shoot that one of the beaters on our shoot runs,Paul puts about 50 birds down and has three small walkups through the season with his freinds,Its a nice little shoot and only lasts around two hours but i was just happy to get an invite.We had three drives, me and paul did most of the beating and take any birds going back while 3 standing guns did the rest.Going on the two previous shoots 42 of the 50 had already been shot so with what was left and stray birds from another shoot that may have come in we was hoping for ten.The first drive paul had managed to shoot a crow and a squirrel on the way and i had managed a pigeon but no pheasants showed in range for the standing guns,so off to the next drive.The guns only need to move round a little on here so it didn`t take long to get going again.A couple of minutes into the drive two hens broke and went hell for leather over the guns, and kept going passed the guns,these were fast birds and a slight chuckle to myself we carried on.
The next ten minutes produced a few birds from the thickest cover and although there weren`t alot of birds they flew like propper end of season missiles and some good shots were pulled off.I had managed to pull two great shots off at range but also missed the easiest bird of the day.The final walk had paul walking the hedgerows upto the cars while we waited in the field infront of the pen,we managed 4 birds on this drive and i had managed two more hens where i was stood.
Drive over we met back up at the cars and counted eleven birds for the morning,now considdering only 50 were put down a return of 53 is better than any shoot i know.
Pictures couldn`t be supplied as i left my bloody phone in the car but ater a thanks to paul and goodbye to the other lads i decided to go to my local shoot.
It was still early and the thought of going home before dark was unthinkable so off me and dee went in search of a squirrel or two.In the first hour i had managed to kill three squirrels and miss two pigeons,there wasn`t alot about so decided to call it a day.On the way back through the bottom wood dee put a rabbit up,as there is alot of close trees here it was a shot to nothing and hope i could get it,two barrels later it carried on running through the wood but not fast,i thought i had it on the second shot as it slowed a little but maybee not.
Dee had been sent to some brambles where i last seen it go but she couldnt find nothing and decided to go out onto the field along side the wood.Calling her back she turned fast and headed down a hedgerow,i thought she had winded a pheasant and started to call her off it but this time she never come back.It was a first for a long time that she refused to come to the whistle so i started off after her to give her a ticking off, i wanted to get to her before she started to come back.Thirty yards down the hedge out she comes,ready to give her what for i could only praise the little girl.Out she came, rabbit slumped in her jaws looking smug as hell.

 I was suprised how far this rabbit had traveled so i decided to skin it and look where it had been hit,the inspection showed two shot in its neck and its heart and lungs were hit  with another couple.I was lucky ,but it was a hard shot with the cover between us.

Well that was it for the day and home i went.The next trip will hopefully produce a fox for me so will keep you updated on our progress.