RATS AT HOME

In part two of this ar­ti­cle the ed­i­tor is still try­ing to rid his

Air Gunner - - Vermin -

Last month, I de­scribed how my keen in­ter­est to hunt rats had taken some­thing of a turn when I found them un­der the com­post bin be­side my house. I set out to shoot them, but with lit­tle luck, and be­cause we have dogs, I re­fused to use poi­son, even though I un­der­stand that it’s the most likely route to suc­cess. Plan B was to buy some traps to aid my shoot­ing ef­forts, which I buried deep un­der logs and old paving slabs to pre­vent my Labradors from dis­turb­ing them. I also placed a Hawke trail cam­era over­look­ing the hole to try to un­der­stand when they were most ac­tive.

I’m pleased to re­port that at last I man­aged to shoot … one. Oh dear. Not too good, eh? The cam­era was still show­ing ac­tiv­ity, but they stub­bornly re­fused to come to my bait­ing point in front of my .25 cal­i­bre BSA Scor­pion. They also re­fused to go into the traps, no mat­ter which bait I used; Nutella, cheese, meat or nuts – they just wouldn’t bite. As I threw in some more veg­etable peel­ings, which I imag­ine they thought was a home­de­liv­ery meal, into the com­post bin, I could see that the network of holes had reached the top

Not go­ing well

This wasn’t go­ing well for me and I re­ally didn’t want the rats get­ting into my home. I needed a fresh plan. I tried to work out if I could get a shoot­ing po­si­tion over­look­ing the hole be­side the com­post bin, as you see it in the black and white, night -time pho­tos. If I put a bench with bags on the top, that would cra­dle the ri­fle and with the use of night-vi­sion, per­haps I could catch them as they came and went. A lit­tle bait might cause them to hes­i­tate long enough to feel a .25 H& N FTT ar­rive in their ear, and end their tyranny!

Be­hind the place where I hoped to shoot them was my neigh­bour’s wooden fence, so the first job was to put an old, con­crete slab against it to stop any rogue pel­lets from caus­ing dam­age. I was watch­ing a video

“Look­ing back at the pho­tos from the Hawke trail cam­era I be­gan to won­der. Was this all done by just one rat?”

re­cently on YouTube, filmed with a high-speed cam­era, in which a chap hunt­ing rab­bits had doc­u­mented the strange and un­likely an­gles that pel­lets had ex­ited af­ter pass­ing through their heads. I didn’t want any such wor­ries, so I put an 18” square slab against the fence, for com­plete con­fi­dence that ev­ery pel­let would be stopped in­side my prop­erty.

In the dark­ness, I set up a bench with a chair on a lawn over­look­ing the exit hole of the rat’s den, and then turned out all the lights at the back of the house. Bait was dropped all around this area, hop­ing to de­lay their jour­ney in or out of the hole long enough for a telling shot. With the ri­fle per­fectly ze­roed and its sights placed in the cen­tre of the bait area, how could I fail?

Rats sur­vive by be­ing adapt­able and clever, al­low­ing them to pros­per in al­most any en­vi­ron­ment around the globe, but I was de­ter­mined that they wouldn’t sur­vive in my gar­den! Still de­ter­mined not to re­sort to poi­son, I re­freshed the bait in the traps and planned some evening over-watch times to show them who was boss.

Fail­ure

Yet again, I have to re­port fail­ure. They just wouldn’t come out. I needed Be­low right: STOP PRESS! I fi­nally shot a large adult on some grain bait to empty the com­post bins around the gar­den to nour­ish the beds and I was los­ing pa­tience. In the end I grabbed my broom and be­gan to plunge the long han­dle deep into the com­post in an at­tempt to flush the rats out and af­ter a minute one big, healthy rat made a dash for free­dom. I kicked some soil over the hole so that I could look the fol­low­ing day to see if it had been re­opened. It hadn’t, so now was the time to empty the bin and put it onto some chicken wire mesh so that rats wouldn’t be able to get un­der­neath again in fu­ture.

Look­ing back at the pho­tos from the Hawke trail cam­era I be­gan to won­der. Was this all done by just one rat? It cer­tainly looked the same in ev­ery pic­ture and was much like the one I saw run. If so, per­haps there were no baby rats in Mrs Rat’s tummy and get­ting rid of the one I saw might do the trick.

Straight af­ter Christ­mas, the shov­els and the wheel­bar­row were dusted off and put to work dis­tribut­ing the lovely, dark com­post all around the gar­den, for the worms to carry down into the soil. Broad swathes of gal­vanised chicken wire were set un­der the bins and some of the good, live com­post was put back to start the cy­cle all over again. Only time will tell if my bat­tle with Mr Rat has been won or lost.

“I’m pleased to re­port that at last I man­aged to shoot … one. Oh dear”

Main: This was how I waited. I bor­rowed some night vi­sion from a friend for the job

Right: The Hawke trail cam cap­tured this lit­tle chap go­ing about his work

Be­low left: Af­ter hours of wait­ing in the dark I shot this young­ster

Left: The traps were no use, even when baited with Nutella in­side the com­post bins

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