A BIT OF A MANIC MONTH

Mick Gar­vey re­calls a busy few weeks – with the prom­ise of many more to come

Airgun World - - Mick Garvey -

Septem­ber was a busy month for me, even though I had been giv­ing the squir­rels a bit of a wide berth due to the pheasant poults get­ting set­tled in, but that’s all about to change now the sea­son has started. The Mid­land Game Fair is the last ma­jor show of the year so I was keen to have the full week­end there to meet up with a few good friends and sup­pli­ers. Scott Coun­try In­ter­na­tional, as al­ways, were present and we had a great night out on the Fri­day dis­cussing many ideas for the fu­ture and I’m quite ex­cited about it, to be hon­est. More con­ver­sa­tions about new prod­ucts were held with Sharon and Gwyn from DJD de­coys, the En­forcer guys, and with Tony and Ed­ward at ASI, the FX Air­gun ri­fle im­porters, both of which caused a stir­ring of ex­cite­ment.

I also spent quite a while talk­ing with Claire, Sheila and Chris at Air Arms about dif­fer­ent pel­lets etc, and as you’ll know, the AA Di­ab­los are the only lead pro­jec­tile to grace my bar­rels. Air Arms do a great deal on pel­lets at the shows, and it is al­ways a pri­or­ity for me to pick them up then – and the cof­fee is not too bad ei­ther. Best Fox Call was an­other sup­plier for me to chat with, and that was solely for my foxing sup­plies, but it was great to catch up with Rob from BFC.

ALL GO FOR THE SHOWS

I rounded the month off with a visit to the South York­shire Shoot­ing Show at Don­caster race­course, a rel­a­tively small show, but a very in­ter­est­ing one and I’m sure it will grow. Again, I met up with the En­forcer guys and they con­firmed what we’d talked about re­gard­ing new kit in the pipe­line. I also had an in­ter­est­ing meet­ing with the North­ern Shoot­ing Show or­gan­is­ers which I hope will lead to some very ex­cit­ing (for me, any­way) li­aisons. Our very own Gary Wain was there and we had an in­for­ma­tive talk about his spe­cial­ity – pel­let test­ing. I might have given him some food for thought re­gard­ing pel­let per­for­mance in FAC air ri­fles. I was lucky enough to meet up with a few read­ers of Air­gun World, and it never

“the weather has been un­usu­ally warm re­cently and I wasn’t ex­pect­ing too much ac­tion”

ceases to amaze me how well in­formed they are and how they can re­mem­ber some of my fea­tures from way back. It’s al­ways a plea­sure to chat and ex­change in­for­ma­tion. Cheers guys, you rock!

I can­not fin­ish this with­out men­tion­ing The Old Hedge­creeper, Rob, and his ‘in­ter­est­ing’ field craft show. Sadly, this was spoiled by the ac­tions of some de­spi­ca­ble low-life steal­ing a gundog whilst Rob was per­form­ing. Luck­ily, the dog has been re­turned to its right­ful owner af­ter a huge plea for help on so­cial me­dia, mak­ing the dog too hot to han­dle. Well done, ev­ery­body! I sim­ply can­not com­pre­hend how the own­ers felt. Un­for­tu­nately, there was a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent at the Mid­land, but as far as I am aware the own­ers there haven’t been as lucky and the gundog is still miss­ing.

WICKED

So on to the pest con­trol. A cou­ple of missed calls whilst work­ing on scaf­fold­ing, and a rather alarm­ing voice­mail from one of my per­mis­sions, left me in no doubt that I needed to get to this place asap. Jay, from the steel works, had an in­fes­ta­tion of fer­als that were caus­ing a right old mess from up above. Fri­day af­ter­noon is the only time I can take care of this job when the work­force has knocked off early, leav­ing me with time to roam freely. Some might re­mem­ber me tak­ing care of the fer­als here pre­vi­ously, and that was in the colder months when they came in for warmth, but the weather has been un­usu­ally warm re­cently and I wasn’t ex­pect­ing too much ac­tion – how wrong I was!

The first visit had me com­ing face to face with half a dozen of the fly­ing rats and ev­ery one taken out with the sub 12 .22 Wild­cat. I have this topped with my old trusty Mk1 Pho­ton, get­ting on a bit now I know, but still man­ag­ing to do the busi­ness. The on­board IR is ad­e­quate for my needs here, but I stick the Tracer f900 on top just in case I need it. I re­ally love this IR lamp from Deben, but I have been given a Wicked Hunt­ing Lights A51IR from the peo­ple in Amer­ica who sup­ply SC In­ter­na­tional, which is a great ges­ture af­ter only meet­ing them at the Shot Show ear­lier this year. So, I’ll be do­ing a com­par­i­son test be­tween the f900 and the Wicked – in­ter­est­ingly, the Wicked has three LEDs, two of them are IR and the third is a red one.

My sec­ond visit wasn’t as pro­duc­tive, and I took just three from the up­per steel­work, but that was all there was and it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter. It’s a nice change of scenery, and my ef­forts are greatly ap­pre­ci­ated – I have a ‘job for life’ there ap­par­ently. I have even been given my own per­sonal PPE gear for the job, which is nice.

A FEW PROB­LEMS

A new per­mis­sion on a huge rape­seed plan­ta­tion was dropped in my lap this month. There are about 10 fields, most of which are rel­a­tively small, but the main field is huge and is get­ting ham­mered by the pi­geons. This per­mis­sion has brought a few prob­lems, to say the least. There are pub­lic foot­paths around and through the fields, but as ad­vised by the farmer, no one seems to pay at­ten­tion to them and gen­er­ally wan­der wher­ever they like.

“Best to leave them to it, Mick,” was his ad­vice, “but if you can make your pres­ence known by be­ing seen driv­ing round, that should help.”

My first lap of the fields was af­ter work one evening and he hadn’t been ex­ag­ger­at­ing. The walk­ers were ev­ery­where; some with cam­eras, some with dogs, cy­clists and run­ners, too. Ev­ery­one seemed pleas­ant enough as I drove past say­ing ‘Hi’ and ask­ing them to be aware that if they saw my truck then I would be shoot­ing and if they could try and keep to the paths it would be ap­pre­ci­ated. Ev­ery­one was happy, or at least they were un­til I turned one cor­ner and spot­ted a huge par­lia­ment of mag­pies out in the field. It would be rude not to take these nest rob­bers out of the game whilst here, and I set about get­ting amongst them with the FAC FX Im­pact/Hawke Air­max, and the near­est was about 45 yards so this would be the right gun for the job to­day. I took four, one af­ter the other, through the pas­sen­ger win­dow with my back to the houses be­hind me so that safety was en­sured.

PA­TIENCE RE­QUIRED

The mag­pies were just get­ting the idea that some­thing was wrong, cack­ling like crazy and buzzing the dropped birds, when I heard a voice be­hind me.

“You’re go­ing to have to stop do­ing that!”

I did the oblig­a­tory roll of my eyes be­fore turn­ing to see a gen­tle­man stand­ing with his hands on his hips, and I’m sure I could see steam com­ing from his ears. I put the gun down, un­loaded, in the pas­sen­ger footwell, turned and asked why would that be? “You can’t shoot here, that’s why!” Keep­ing calm and pro­fes­sional is the only way to deal with this sit­u­a­tion and af­ter ex­plain­ing all the ins and outs of what I was ac­tu­ally al­lowed to do, that I had per­mis­sion from the landowner, and what was on the gen­eral li­cence to shoot, he seemed to calm down and the steam ceased – al­though it looked like reap­pear­ing when I ex­plained that he was ac­tu­ally tres­pass­ing.

Once calm, he asked me if I shot wood­peck­ers. I told him no, and ex­plained that no one else should be do­ing so ei­ther. I gave him the list of al­lowed quarry again, and said that I would con­tinue to shoot, and that I

was on more of a recce to find a suit­able place to set up a hide. Ob­vi­ously, I’d be keep­ing a dis­tance from this fella’s back gar­den – I’m sure he’d be back giv­ing me more grief.

Just when I thought it was safe to get back to the mag­pies and pi­geons, he reap­peared. “Do you shoot crows?” I’m sure my eye­brows were now in my hair­line, and for the umpteenth time I gave him the list.

“Well,” he said. “I feed crows in my gar­den and there’s four that come ev­ery day. Can you please not shoot these four?”

I tried to keep a straight face and asked if he could iden­tify the said four crows. If he could, then I would cer­tainly not shoot them in­ten­tion­ally. I was greeted with a blank look, but I think my point was taken.

LOOK­ING GOOD

I have never seen so many mag­pies in one area and I’ll be set­ting my stall out for this place. I could have taken dou­ble fig­ures if it hadn’t been for my con­ver­sa­tion with the crow man, but that’s all wa­ter un­der the bridge and on my last vis­its I haven’t seen any­thing of him. I ended that mis­sion with four mag­pies, two wood­ies and a feral. Fur­ther vis­its have seen sim­i­lar bags, but the ground got a bit of a soak­ing and trav­el­ling round was go­ing to mess up the crops so I’m wait­ing for it to dry up a lit­tle be­fore set­ting up a per­ma­nent hide.

Good news on the squir­rel front, though. I have re­placed a few feed­ers with new, big­ger ones, and set up my trail cams to check out the ac­tiv­ity. I have to re­port all is look­ing good. I even man­aged to get out twice for a cou­ple of hours and sat un­der a beech tree that was shed­ding beech nuts at an un­be­liev­able rate. It sounded like rain on the fast-turn­ing leaves. I ended up tak­ing eight wood­ies, a crow and two skin­nies, and again, there would have been more if I hadn’t been tak­ing so many photos.

Here’s to a bumper au­tumn – I sim­ply can­not wait!

Happy as a sand­boy with the Im­pact.

I spy some­thing be­gin­ning with ... F.

Blink and they’re in.

You need good eyes here.

FAC and sub-12; both took plenty, but not as many as the Canon.

Ev­ery mag­pie culled equals songbirds saved. It’s all part of the wildlife man­age­ment deal and I’m happy to play my part in it.

The enor­mity of the new land.

To be con­tin­ued.

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