31-Mar-2024 : More rats in the garden

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After a couple of years of absence, the rats are back. The little sods have dug holes under the gravel boards on both sides of the garden and are using our lawn as a thoroughfare between the houses on either side of us. Both our neighbours have wooden decking and I suspect they’re finding it warm and dry under there – the rats, I mean, not the neighbours! We had a couple of sightings in broad daylight so I got the Weihrauch HW100S gassed up, loaded with H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets (which at 9.57 grains are on the heavy side for .177’s but have great shock effect and rapid energy transfer for a quick and certain knock-down) and I set myself up in the back bedroom from where I have good coverage over a large portion of the garden.

After a couple of days of keeping our eyes peeled whenever we were in the kitchen, we eventually spotted Mr Rat brazenly mooching around in the flower bed under the bird feeders just four metres from the back door, so I rushed up the stairs, gingerly opened the bedroom window and dropped him in one.

I’ve now established a routine where I sit at the back bedroom window for a few minutes last thing at night (normally some time around midnight which is when they appear to be most active) and scan the garden for any activity.


This was almost too easy. My quarry was sitting 7completely still for several seconds, which gave me plenty of time to apply the two-mildot holdover which my ballistic trajectory tables told me was correct for the seven-metre range measured by my Hawke LRF400 Pro laser range finder. (See My kit for more information on the LRF400.) I hit him perfectly and he rolled over on the spot: lights out. Head to tail measurement: thirteen inches.

(Note: my ballistic trajectory tables were compiled from figures calculated by the JBM Ballistics Calculators.)

There was now a bit of a lull in ratty activity – no more visitors in the daytime for a few weeks – so I decided it was time to deploy my PARD NV007A digital night vision unit and switch to nighttime hunting. The PARD NV700A is an infrared sight with built-in IR illumination and digital stills & video camera which projects the view from your normal daytime telescopic sight on to a rearward-facing 1080p LCD colour display (although infrared is mono only). These units are now discontinued but see My kit for more information on the upgraded replacement unit the PARD NV700V. I’ve only ever used this as a stand-alone night-time video camera in the past – see Wild animals in the garden – but now it was time to try it out attached to the rifle. I don’t have the correct adapter – they don’t make one exactly the right size for my Hawke HK3017 3-9×50 AO IR ‘scope – but a bit of grippy rubber sorted that out fairly quickly, and within minutes it was fitted, focused and ready to roll.


A second rat, and my first hit using night vision! The built-in infra-red light picked out the rat’s eyes perfectly from my vantage point in the bedroom window and again with the same two-mildot holdover which proved successful previously, it was another one-shot instant kill. Head to tail measurement: twelve inches.


Number #3. Again the infra-red light showed me where my target was – exactly where his deceased mate had been mooching about a week earlier – and I let a shot go. He gave one twitch – an autonomic reflex when the brain is damaged – which propelled him under a dense shrub but when I went out to him in the morning he was gone, leaving a thin trail of blood from where he was shot to a small puddle under the shrub where he expired. Rats have been known to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades, probably to eat.


Number #4, spotted with the infra-red scope and dropped on the spot. Numbers #3 and #4 were a lot smaller than the first two, so hopefully I’m making an impact and they’ve resorted to sending the youngsters out to forage. With any luck they’ll soon get the message and start pestering the people at the other end of the lane.


Number #5, again spotted with the infra-red scope. Another youngster, as it turned out, and evidently not a very worldly-wise animal as I missed him with my first shot and he just sat there as the pellet raised the soil just above and behind his head. I realise now that I gave the shot three mil dots of holdover instead of two. A quick reload and the second pellet struck just under the ear, killing him instantly.


Number #6, taken just as the daylight was fading at 6:07pm, twenty-six minutes before sunset time. I spotted this guy ambling nonchalantly across the lawn and disappearing into the shrubbery at the end of an hour-long watch at the bedroom window. Ten minutes later he appeared in a gap in the greenery heading up a tree trunk towards a bird feeder containing a couple of juicy fat balls. (The tits and black caps seem to love them.) My furry friend paused for a moment too long and I sent 9.57 grains of lead his way, dropping him instantly. Another thirteen-inch critter (measured head to tail).

Thank you, Hawke Optics, for the excellent five-level red/green illuminated reticle in your HK3017 3-9×50 AO IR ‘scope, on this occasion set to red, maximum brightness, in order to stand out against the leafy background in the rapidly fading light.


Ending the month as it started, I dropped rat number #7 as it was injudiciously wandering about the flower bed nearest to the house as bold as brass at ten o’clock on a bright sunny morning. The largest yet at fourteen inches from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail.

rat   rat   rat   rat   rat   rat   rat