THE PIED PIPER OF NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

This month you join me not with a centrefire rifle out deer stalking, but with a rimfire rifle! I must confess my Voere .22LR doesnt get as much use as it should because I just dont seem to get the time to dust her off due to deer stalking and deer management duties that takes up 99.9% of my shooting these days – not that Im complaining.

I recently dropped by an old mates small holding where he keeps rare breed pigs and a whole host of creatures. The place is like the call of the wild and the owner Bob is pretty much in the same league, an old chap that speaks his mind and has  a like me or dont like meattitude and to be honest we have always got on well as we are both grumpy old men at heart. I used to shoot his place on a regular basis as he was plagued with rabbits but thanks to the onset of the RDHV virus, me, plus foxes, the rabbits are now a very rare sight so Ive neglected this permission over the last 12-18 months.

Whilst giving my .22 a clean I thought Id drop by and re-zero my old rifle, built in 1968 and still as good as the day it left the factory in Austria. When I got to Bobs he greeted me in his usual jovial manner, Bloody hell its been a while matehe says with a big grin on his face. Ive been meaning to contact – you Ive got a bit of a rat problem Pete…”

Boy, he wasnt joking. Whilst I was stood there talking to him a rat ran over my foot, I almost had a heart attack! One thing I detest is rats – I really dont like them one bit and it soon became very obvious why the problem was so out of hand. Bobs place is a ramshackle collection of outbuildings and piles of this and that scattered all over the place. Couple this with chickens and pigs running around free range plus the masses of abundant food sources and it is a rat heaven.

With the UK rat population estimated to exceed 81 million that means rats outnumber humans 1.3 to 1. However I believe the actual number to be far higher than thought, especially with the recent wet and mild winters we have experienced over the last few years.

Bob hasnt been able to leave poison down because the free range animals would potentially eat it so hes left it to get out of hand. Rats were absolutely everywhere I must have seen 200-300 whilst I was talking to Bob and bear in mind this was on a Saturday afternoon. What the place is like at night God only knows?!?

I very quickly check zero and hastily get my rifle up on my shooting sticks overlooking a large chicken run. There are rat runs and holes everywhere you look – this hasnt been done overnight, we are talking about a very large, well established colony here. Im annoyed with myself as Id only got a hand full of CCI subsonic rounds with me as Id only planned on a quick zeroing session.

I asked Bob to throw some feed in to the main run hoping to draw a few rats in to the open. I didnt have to wait long; within 30 seconds they were coming from all directions, under the sheds from holes in the ground from under old pallets – it was incredible. I am sure the rats associate the noise of Bob calling to his livestock and know it means dinner time?

This is where a semi auto rifle really earns its money especially with a ten shot clip. Within no more than five minutes Id accounted for over half a dozen including one that I swear was half the size of my rifle! Although I saw much larger animals that were very skittish so a return trip and a better game plan is called for.

The plan is to return to shoot over a few baited areas with liquidised cat food, it smells to high heaven but the rats cant just grab it a run, they have to stop momentarily and this gives me the opportunity to get the shot away. Nutella chocolate spread also works very well.

I am also going to come back as dusk starts to fall as this is the time I suspect they are most active. I will also attach a PARD NV007 to my rifle scope to give me a real edge, it also allows me to film some of the action that I will post on my YouTube channel MHG TV.

Im so glad I dropped by Bobs place because it is always good to help out a friend and also because Id forgotten just what a joy it is to get back to shooting a rimfire rifle, I was like a big kid. I dont like rats but I do enjoy shooting them and I have an agreement with Bob… Ill shoot them but you pick them up and dispose of them.

So until next time. Shoot safe, be safe and support shooting sports.

Pete

Kit used:

Voere .22LR semi-automatic Rifle.

SAK Moderator.

4-12×50 Hawke sport HD scope.

40 grain cci subsonic hollow point ammunition.

PARD NV007 night vision add on unit.

Viper flex quad sticks (Mk1).

Coffee supplied by Bob (more milk).