I have been doing a lot of night shooting lately with the old man . We have been clearing a few rabbits from a new ground with his 17 HMR and the Pulsar N550 Digi Sight. This has given us the edge and we have made a good dent in the population , but shooting like this will soon end any sport for the summer. I now we have to do a good job to keep the farmer happy but like every hunter out there , we like to leave a few even if the farmer says no . One recent trip out I was talking to the farmer , he was pleased with the results we had since we were going and mentioned he had a few rats knocking about some old silo towers . Rats are becoming pretty scarce around my parts on any of my permissions so to get a chance at some new ones was music to my ears . I had kept it quiet from the old man and about a week later I just happened to mention that I needed to borrow his Pulsar for a few hours to test it on my Rapid.
The questions soon started to flow from his mouth , Why ? What ? Where ? , he knew something was not quite right and blagged my head until I caved in and told him about the Rats .
That was it , I had no chance on the planet of getting the Pulsar from him now and it was soon mounted on his Rapid ready for some action . Not to be put off with the lack of skills of keeping my mouth shut I agreed he could come and I would use the trusty Led Lenser T7 light .
When ever I use a lamp or torch for ratting the light source needs to be as low as possible , you have a very short window in which to get your cross hairs on target so a bright light shining on the rat will spook it even quicker than a dull one . I always use a red filter as well , for some reason the rat is not as spooked with this colour over any other that I have tried.
Shooting rats is going to be quick fire action so you don't want a scope with a high magnification setting. I usually shoot with a 6 x magnification as it gives me a good chance to see the rat quickly but not make it small enough so it takes me longer to get the head shot that I want . Rats are hardy little animals , I thought squirrels were tough until I started shooting rats. If you use a .177 then I will stress a head shot is the only way to go for a clean kill.
While I am going to be using all my skills as a pro hunter (cough , cough ) to get a few rats , my old man might as well get a deck chair set up and just sit and wait for them to smile for him . The night vision set up rules rat shooting over any other method . If you sit quiet enough they will just keep coming out looking for food and make your night so much more productive.
As it was a request by the farmer to get as many as possible you will see why I wanted to steal the N550 from the old man and go alone , I would get all the glory , a big bag of rats and not have to work hard for it.
Well a nice night finally descended on us in rainy Staffordshire so we made the call to go for it. We arrived at the farm just before dark so we could get any information from the farmer where they would be most active. We found that the two silo's had a bit of grain still in them and when I opened the door of one of them all I seen was a mix of grain and rat droppings. This was definitely my hot spot , I noticed a hole in the floor of the silo where the rats were coming in from underneath , all I had to do was wait and flick the lamp on every couple of minutes in the hope my target would be in front of me.
The main place for the old man was going to be one of the cattle sheds . The farmer has boarded this all the way around up to five feet high. The rats have chewed a good hole in one corner and it looks like it could hold many rats behind it. Also it will give them time to come out in the open while not getting shined on and they can be shot away from the hole so not to spook the others .
Now our tactics were sorted out it was time to set zero on the scopes. As I was shooting at such close ranges I wanted to set my zero at around 8 yards , I know its common practice to set your cross dead centre but with the target being so small I opted to set my first dot below the cross as my aim point . This setting gave me the clearest view of the rats head as the centre cross can cover a lot of the target you are after and when you need to be quick its the best option for me. With the Pulsar you can change to a reticle to what suits you and a small dot dead centre of your scope is a great option to have. Rifles all ready for action we set off to the old man's location .
We had walked quietly to the gate of the barn that we had chose for him , he turned on the pulsar and took his first look at what he had in store for the night. I was looking into the dark filled with anticipation of him saying yes I see one , but that call never came . Instead he said “ There's 2 , no 3 , no , 4 ,no 8 “ I just whispered to him to just bloody one instead of rubbing it in that he could see loads and me nothing but darkness . He had been watching then for at least a minute , he still had not shot one so being the the nice son I am I shone my torch in there . The suspense was killing me and I just wanted to see a rat , and that is what I did. Within seconds most of them darted for the safety of the hole in the corner but one stayed long enough for me to get a bead on it and I sent a pellet straight for it. The loud slap of the pellet sent it backwards and a few twitches later it was stone dead. “1-0 “ to me I said to him laughing as I walked off to my location , Well he did spoil my nights shooting in the dark in the first place so revenge is sweet .
I know some one will be thinking why did I turn my lamp on while a nigh vision scope is turned on . The Pulsar N550 is digital so any light source wont harm it like more conventional tubes in some NV scopes.
Still quietly laughing to myself I reached the point from where I could see inside the silo I was going to shoot in. I pressed the pressure pad to light my torch and was greeted by two pairs of eyes shining back at me . One of the rats made for a quick exit down the hole but the one furthest from the hole just sat looking at me , I quickly put the dot between its eyes and the pellet hitting its mark gave me rat number 2 in the bag. Now it was a waiting game I would lift the rifle to my shoulder and turn the light on every five minutes in the hope a rat had ventured back out and would just sit long enough for me to get a shot off.
Half an hour had passed now and to be honest I was struggling , every time I turned to light on I would see a rat but they would not sit. It is very frustrating but you have to be patient and after nearly an hour I was rewarded again. I turned the light on and there was three rats out this time , one bolted straight away but two stayed for some reason. Quickly I put the dot on the rat and killed number three the other ran for cover , I wasn't surprised by this but what did get me wondering was why did the other two stay . I had come to the conclusion they were either dumb or as I had shined the lamp on them so many times and nothing happened to them they had lost some fear of the it.
I decided to take a walk to so how the old man was doing , he was still stood in the same place so he must be doing something here. I asked him how he was getting on and if they rats were coming out ok for him. I didn't get a very detailed response but what I could squeeze out of him is he had got a couple.
I was dying to shine the light in there and see how many he had but I had messed it up once for him and if I did it again I think I would blow any chance of stealing the Pulsar in the future from him.
I left him to his shooting and decided to have a walk around the cattle sheds just in case there was the odd one about elsewhere . I was nearly at the far end of the sheds now so I decided to shine in a shed with some cows in. I was surprised to see not one but four rats trying to make their escape towards some pallets by the gate. I rushed round to where the pallets were and thought to myself if I can get close the hole where they are running I might just get one as it stops to go in. I had got to the pallets now and close to the hole was an understatement , I was about a foot away , there was a food trough along the gate and they had to run down the side of it to get to the hole, a perfect ambush point I thought. I shone the torch and there was one about two feet away , I wasn'
Now this is where you mere Sons will definitely feel for me , I told my old man of my dangerous escape and that it might have been the last he would have seen of me alive , instead of embracing me like a father should he nearly dropped his Rapid laughing. Well that's family for you I thought so I decided to shine in his spot and see what he had shot .
He had nailed me on this occasion so far , he had seven rats to my three , a smug grin made me feel like choking him but fair is fair he had the tool to win was my excuse . We decided to just go for a walk about and see what we could get with what time remained before we had to head back . I had the old man looking for them and I would shoot them just for a bit of sport for myself. We ended up getting three more with the lamp , I even got one of those from the killer pack by the pallets . As we were just about to pick the rats up and call it a night my old man sneakily shot one more, he had spotted one in between two sheds and waited until I had walked past it , he then crept in for a rest and took it out to bring the total to fourteen.
I know this was not pest control to the fullest but we did find get a lot of information for our next trip out. I will hopefully get hold of some kind of night vision kit for myself to try out and this time make a proper dent in the rat population between us.
Always use disposable glove to pick up any shot rats. I forgot mine but the gloves I used were disinfected and washed straight away .
Always carry a first aid kit , if you cut yourself you will need to cover the wound up just in case of any infection getting in. I use antiseptic had scrub after any rat shoot .
Always discard any Rats on a fire if the farmer has one going or is planning to have one.