Thursday, December 17, 2015

Rat hunting gun, part 3!

I've written about different rat hunting rigs in the past.  Version 1 was a bb gun with a laser sight, version 2 was  a pellet gun with an infrared scope.

the basic problem that I've got is that I have dogs and pigs, both of which will eat dead rats.  So poisons are generally out of the question for my farm.  I've also tried a variety of rat traps, from traditional to electronic, and I haven't had much impact on the population.  this rifle has been completely effective at removing rats from my barns.   I chose a pellet gun to limit the amount of overpenetration, and for cost-effective shooting.  Pellets are a penny or so each, and the air for this rifle is $20 for 50 fill-ups, about a penny a shot.  at 2 cents a shot, this is pretty cheap.

This is version 3:

The basic rifle is a BSA scorpion SE, with a picatinny scope adapter and a 10x scope.  The scope and mounts are basically stock.  Clamped on top of the scope is an infrared spotlight that points in the direction of the barrel, and a 3.5" LCD screen that points back to the butt of the gun.  On the eyepiece of the scope is a small camera, so the effect is that you look at the screen and what you see is what the scope is seeing.    the infrared addition is manufactured by Nitesite, and it's the NiteSite Viper
 I'm outside after dark, pointing the rifle at the top rail of a fence about 50' away.  The lumber in that fence is pressure-treated - you can see the speckling where they injected the preservatives, and below that you can see the top of a livestock panel.  You can also see the crosshairs from the scope in that view.

this particular rifle is a .22 calibre pellet clip-fed rifle, which means that it's plenty big for rats, and can also work for larger game (possums, rabbits, raccoons) if you wish.  the nitesite unit can be moved to another rifle in about a minute, so if you'd like to make a larger calibre rifle night capable, you can.  You don't have to resight the scope and there's no tools involved.  You pull the camera off the eyepiece, remove the batteries velcro strap, and then open the clamp for the spotlight/screen.  Move it to the new gun, and 30 seconds later you've got a night vision rifle.

I can get between 40 and 50 shots out of this rifle before recharging its internal air tank, which takes a minute or two.

To hunt rats I just turn off all the lights in the barns, and then about half an hour later walk out with the rifle and start shooting.  the only visible light is the reflection of the screen off of my face, and I can hit a rats head at 150', so the rats really don't know what's going on, where the shot is coming from, or where to run.  So I'll walk out, find a few rats, and start shooting.  the first shot kills one rat, and the others freeze for a second or two, trying to figure out where it came from.  the next two or three shots kill a couple more, and then there's usually a mass exit.  So I go away for a half hour, and come back to the same spot, and I can usually get another rat or two.

I don't know how many rats I've killed over the last 6 months; at least 2500, maybe as many as 3500.  I have fired 4500 pellets through this gun, just looking at my ammunition purchases.   I thought I had a rat problem, but it wasn't until I had the night vision equipment that I realized how many rats there were in the old barns and sheds.  the first night with this rifle I killed 175 rats.

On a typical walkaround these days I'll shoot between 4 and 6 rats as I make my rounds checking the animals, and while that seems like a lot, given the population that I started with, I consider this a manageable level of pests.

the rats are particularly easy to target - their eyes glow in the infrared spotlight, so you can see them clearly from quite a distance away.

Video of nightsite scopes in action (but does have a lot of annoying talk before the shooting)
This video is pretty close to what it's like to hunt the rats on my farm.


Andrew said...

I use a poison called Agrid 3 that's safe for dogs. They tested the stuff by killing a bunch of rats with it and feeding nothing but poisoned rats to a group of beagles for a number of weeks.
As poisons go its not as good as the more toxic stuff, but it still gets the job done.

Bruce King said...

Andrew, thanks for that reference. The conventional poisons have been an area of concern and it's nice to have a pointer to something that may work without harming the dogs. Now to figure out if pigs are also unaffected.

Pigs are giant food vacuums. If it doesn't move too fast, they'll eat it. Pigs are big on recycling.