Saturday, 20 February 2010


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


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.


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


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.