Jerry Moss is ad­just­ing his tac­tics as au­tumn looms large

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Jerry gets ready for au­tumn and shares the in­for­ma­tion gleaned with the game­keep­ers on his per­mis­sions

At the time of writ­ing this, we are into late Au­gust al­ready; how the months fly past. Usu­ally, this time of year is dif­fi­cult, for a few rea­sons; firstly, when work­ing wood­lands and forests you are in pheas­ant shoot ar­eas. In the Eden Val­ley, there are plenty of them, from lads’ syn­di­cate small shoots, to the big­ger com­mer­cial type, so you have to work around these, es­pe­cially when the pheas­ant poults are first put out into the re­lease pens. Sen­si­tiv­ity is re­quired be­cause this can be a very stress­ful time of year for the game­keeper.

At the same time, I can be of use to the game­keeper by keep­ing an eye out on what’s go­ing on in the ar­eas where I am work­ing; watch­ing for ver­min, such as stoats, foxes and so on; giv­ing the keep­ers a hand with shift­ing a bit of feed about; re­port­ing any poults I see in ar­eas away from the pens in the first week or two … It all helps and builds the trust re­quired.


Luck­ily, I have worked this area for many years now and most of the keep­ers are fine with me be­ing in the woods at this time of year, and at the end of the day they know I am not go­ing through like a steam train, but more sneak­ing about armed with an air ri­fle, whether that be sub-12ft.lbs. or FAC-rated. The birds re­ally are not both­ered by my pres­ence – in fact, more times than not they are in­quis­i­tive about what I am do­ing. If I have any squir­rel feed­ers around the pens, I tend just to sit and watch these, and it’s sur­pris­ing what else will turn up whilst just wait­ing. Of course, as the year moves on and the shoot­ing sea­son starts, I am well away from the area on a shoot day be­cause my pres­ence wouldn’t go down well.


All the nat­u­ral food is ripen­ing now, so the squir­rels, whether red or grey, are onto this and not vis­it­ing as reg­u­larly to the feed­ing ar­eas that I have set up. Trap­ping also be­comes nigh on im­pos­si­ble be­cause the squir­rels are sim­ply not hun­gry. Yes, you will still pick up the odd one at feed­ers and in traps, but it’s time con­sum­ing. This year, the hazel­nut crop here is not bad, along with beech mast, and spend­ing time sit­ting in beech trees can prove fruit­ful. It can be frus­trat­ing, too, but lis­ten­ing and watch­ing for the feed drop­ping will give away their lo­ca­tion, so that I can then home in on these ar­eas and wait for the chance of a clean shot.

At the time of writ­ing, cones on the conifers are still green and yet I am see­ing the ones on the for­est floor stripped out. I’m not see­ing many acorns at the mo­ment, but the big oaks can of­ten de­liver later in the sea­son, and I watch and wait.

An­other fac­tor, mov­ing into Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, is squir­rel dis­per­sal. Ev­ery year at this time, my phone gets busy with peo­ple call­ing me to re­port they have seen a grey run­ning along a coun­try road or in their gar­den. This is due to a good net­work be­ing in place whereby peo­ple are aware of our work be­cause of signs in place ask­ing peo­ple to re­port grey squir­rel sight­ings to us, or to lo­cal me­dia. Also, of course, it is more un­usual to see a grey squir­rel around here than it is a red squir­rel.


These re­ports all help us to build up the pic­ture, and de­pend­ing on where they are seen, can lead us into new ar­eas to check out. Squir­rels mov­ing about can be hard to catch up with be­cause they haven’t set­tled and are look­ing for new ter­ri­tory, so I’m ex­pect­ing a frus­trat­ing few weeks ahead. Ev­ery year, though, the re­ports slow down to­ward the end of Oc­to­ber into early Novem­ber, and then it’s ‘game on’ again. Most of the nat­u­ral food and leaves have fallen to the wood­land floor by then, so the squir­rels have to come down more from the trees in search of food, and at the same time, my feed­ers will start play­ing their part again.

Lastly, I have just re­ceived a demo

“I have worked this area for many years now and most of the keep­ers are fine with me be­ing in the woods”

scope from Op­tics Ware­house www. op­tic­sware­ af­ter talk­ing to Shaun El­lis, Sales Di­rec­tor, about a scope I had seen on their web­site that in­trigued me. It is cer­tainly some­thing that I haven’t seen be­fore. I’ve al­ready fit­ted and ze­roed it on my FAC FX Wild­cat, and first im­pres­sions are a thumbs up, so I will talk a lit­tle more about this scope next month, once I have had more time to use it.

I put our awarenes signs where they’ll be seen most of­ten

Col­lect­ing shot squir­rels can be time con­sum­ing

The pheas­ant poults aren’t dis­turbed by me sneak­ing about

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