Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Help For Heroes day out update

Well as promised here is the full update of the trip out doing a feature with Mick Garvey. He was the winner of the auction i did a couple of months back and here are the results.

This feature is a special one this month. Recently on the rapid7owners.com forum I ran a auction for a day out doing a feature , also included in the prize was a years subscription to both Airgun world and Airgunner thanks to Terry Doe and Matt Clarke. To add to this Glenn Lewis from Jack Pyke donated a jacket in their leading English Oak pattern for the winner as well. The proceeds from this auction was to go to a very worthy cause that the rapid7owners forum are sponsoring this year. The charity is the Help For Heroes and a very deserving one it is too. When D - Day finally arrived the winner was Mick Garvey with a remarkable winning bid over £300 . When I spoke to Mick I soon realised how passionate he was about the heroes charity due to family and friends being in the army at some point , so it was only right that he won the auction and hopefully he would enjoy the day out with me.
Me and Mick had been chatting a couple of nights before the chosen day and it soon dawned that he was quite new to hunting. I know he has been shooting for a while but pest control has only come about in the last year. Mick has been out with a few fellow hunters so he knew where to shoot to ensure a clean kill but he wanted to learn more about field craft and how he could add those extra pests to his game bag.
The day finally arrived and a punctual Mick turned up at my home at 6.30 am , We had a coffee and a chat while he stretched his legs after 1 ½ hour drive as we did not want any excuses of fatigue if he missed . After getting all the kit loaded up we were off to our first permission.
When we arrived at the farm the first thing was a zero session , Mick showed how well he could put pellet on pellet at 30 yards with his Rapid MK11 .177 and gave me hope if I missed I knew Mick would back me up without any problems. Mick had made the effort to get his concealment sorted but his red boots could give him away if any pigeons were directly above him later in the day. Not to put him off and have him worrying about his boots I told him he would still do as well even if they was white , I don’t think he believed me but he kept any negative thoughts well hidden .
All ready we set off to the first part of the shoot , we had only walked about a 100 yards when we spotted the odd rabbit hopping for cover , this was a good sign for me as there is nothing worse than bigging a ground up and then seeing nothing. We crept up as quietly as possible to where they had gone but we were unlucky as the rabbits had hopped into cover . The next spot was a small copse with a few conifers one end and chestnut trees the other. This is a good place to catch the odd squirrel out so I directed Mick to one side that normally shows one and I held back to watch in case any took off through the tree tops. As Mick was nearing the conifers I noticed a squirrel trying to sneak through to tops of the conifers , I signalled to Mick where it was and he headed off in front of it to try and stop it going any further . I had explained to Mick that if you can get in front of a running squirrel you will get it to halt and try and hide itself . This does not work every time but more than not it does. This squirrel read the script perfectly , it stopped running and headed straight to the top of a conifer . We now had the squirrel covered from both sides of the tree so if it moved one of us would see it . The tree that it had ran up was very thick at the top and spotting it was becoming a problem. I had circled the tree a dozen times and was about to give up when at last I found it. It was lying flat as a pancake against a thick branch and all you could see was the top of its eye and its ear. I pointed out to Mick where it was and after 5 minutes Mick finally spotted it . Mick could not believe how tight it was against the tree and how I had spotted it. I have always believed that the squirrel will always be watching you so if it can see us we would eventually see him . Mick had positioned himself against a tree and was in a perfect place if it raised its head , there was no way you could have got a clean kill as it was but I had a trick of my own to try and move it . I walked to the opposite side of the tree and gave it a good kick , the squirrel had lifted its head and Mick soon placed a well aimed pellet right behind its eye . Mick came over to claim his prize and the smile on his face said it all.

 I was a little surprised how much he was smiling to be honest and then he told me it was his first squirrel . Now in the picture I started to think back to my first squirrel all those years ago and all the thoughts of how big my smile was came flooding back , at least today would be remembered for one thing . After finally calming Mick down we headed of to another wood . I had decided to split us up again and walk 30 yards apart . It was not long before we saw a squirrel running through the chestnut trees 40 yards in front of us . I set off like a grey hound on steroids to try and head it off . I signalled Mick over and pointed to where I had last seen it. We spent a good 5 minutes looking up the tree and we could not see it anywhere . Signalling to Mick to walk around his side I started to walk back a little . I could now see the squirrels tail as it had moved around watching Mick but to my surprise it started to head straight down the tree . Making a little noise I thought it might stop and head back up the tree but the squirrel knew exactly what it was doing and headed straight to the floor and into a rabbit hole . Mick was looking a little puzzled with what had happened and to be honest I was a little lost for words as it was a first for me to see a squirrel not stop and run back up the tree especially when there was one of us both sides of the tree . Not to be out done we headed further into the wood , this time Mick had spotted two running along the floor . He pointed them out to me so I headed forward to try and head them off from my side . Mick had watched them head up an old thick tree , now I know this tree very well as I have lost many a squirrel running into wood pecker holes. We headed to the tree and just as I said to Mick what usually happens we saw the last part of a tail slipping inside a hole , a good look around the rest of the tree showed that the other one had decided that was also the best course of action . I was feeling a little deflated now , I wanted Mick to have the best day I could give him but 3 out of 4 had eluded us and this was the best wood to get good numbers of squirrels. Walking through the rest of the wood produced another squirrel and that had ran straight into a Drey making it more frustrating. We decided to go back to the car for a drink and a bit of breakfast , on the way around a field we spotted a rabbit feeding close to the hedge . The rabbit was a good 100 yards away and luckily for us there is a small slope 30 yards in front of it . I sent Mick off down the hedge towards it, there was no point both of us going together as I am sure we would have given the game away. I explained what bush to get to as I know the distance from previous visits and I knew if Mick could get there it should be a formality as there was no wind to worry about to take the pellet away. I watched Mick stealthily creep down the hedge line to where I had told him to stop , a quick look over the slope by Mick had him down on one knee and the crack of the pellet hitting the mark and me seeing it roll over had a rabbit in the bag to make up for the poor show on the squirrels . By the time I had got to Mick he was already checking his prize and another smile from him made me feel a bit better.

After breakfast well it was almost dinner I decided that we go back to the wood that we had seen the squirrels in earlier , I know there is a lot more in the wood and I was sure now Mick knew where we were going we could be a bit quieter and maybe get a few more . We headed into the wood and within minutes Mick was pointing just in front of himself . I slowly walked over to him and he explained to me where he had seen a squirrel run . Mick had a good look around the tree and I stood back letting Mick try and find it for himself. A few minutes had passed and he was not having any luck so I explained to him to look for anything that seemed odd , he looked straight at me puzzled oddly enough for saying it but even a squirrels ear can give it away if you know how to look for them . After a couple of minutes a smile from Mick gave the game away and raising his rifle he let a shot off. The squirrel cam down right amongst some rhododendron bushes and Mick was straight in looking for it. I could see the squirrel dead on the floor and soon after Mick came through on his hands and knees to retrieve it.

Mick had explained that he had seen a small lump on a branch and looking through the scope showed that it was the squirrels foot so he positioned himself better to get a shot on its head and the result was another one in the bag. We had seen nothing more and time was pressing on as I wanted to go to another permission to shoot some pigeons coming into roost so we set off but as we got to the far end of the wood I noticed another squirrel running along the floor . I signalled to Mick but he had seen it as well so we surrounded the tree . As I walked back to get a clear look at the top of the tree I could see it . It was stretched out over a thick branch looking at Mick , I was just about to tell Mick where it was when my Rapid went off accidentally in the direction of the squirrel and it came falling out the tree. I looked at Mick and smiled and just as I was going to say sorry another ran across to the tree we were surrounding , in no time Mick got it in his scope and dropped it with a cracking shot as soon as it stopped to look back . Not to end it there as Mick was walking over to pick his squirrel up he stopped in a clearing and picking his rapid up he took another shot , down came another squirrel to join the two we had in a matter of minutes. Its surprising how a slow start can turn into a manic end and it does happen now and then , what was more pleasing is it was Mick that had bagged them .

Time was really getting on now and we made a quick exit from the wood and got back to the van. We quickly packed the Rapids away and headed of a short way to the next permission . We were now at the next ground and as we were getting the Rapids sorted there were pigeons coming into roost . This was what I was dreading as we wanted to have been here an hour before . We headed off to my hotspot and all the way there we were putting pigeons up that were in roost . I decided to get Mick settled in a spot and I would walk around the wood and hopefully some would land near him and give him a chance to get a few. Wasting no time at all I was off , every 30 yards there were pigeons taking off and as much as I wanted to take my time and shoot something the light was fading fast so I had to hurry and get something to Mick . I got to Mick around 20 minutes later and I was not expecting him to have anything as most of what I had scared from their perches had flew the opposite way to another wood next door , to my surprise Mick had bagged 2 of the stragglers that turned towards his direction. He had said he could have had more but had not seen them come in and as he was looking for them they had spotted him .
As we were running late I just had time to get a picture of Mick with his 2 pigeons to end the day.

It was a very enjoyable day for me and hopefully Mick had a great time too. We did have a laugh now and then and that might of added to the smaller bag than what I was expecting. Mick was a great bloke to talk to and a genuine honest bloke. I would just like to thank everyone on the rapid7owners.com forum who took part in the auction and to everyone who donated prizes to a very worth charity.


  1. well done eddie for a great gesture & to mick for winning , all towards a worthy cause ,it looks like you had a great day out ,

  2. Thanks Pete. It was a cracking day out . I know the bag wasn`t big but the company made up for it big time .

  3. just gotta say ... what a fantastic day out and massive thanks to eddie for being so patient and an excellent tutor (which is paying dividends for me)also to airgunner magazine and airgun world magazine for their support and contributions and last but by no means least the rapid7owners.com forum for their part in this auction with thanks in particular to nick and phil and all the other bidders who made this a worthwhile effort. and finally to all the guys and galls of our forces who with their selfless actions allow us to rest safe at home while they protect us from afar ... these are the real deal heroes and we should never forget that.
    many thanks again to all concerned.
    mick garvey