Mat Manning helps airgun hunters nail more rats with lamping tactics
1. Daytime recce
Heading to the farm for a daytime reconnaissance trip will always pay dividends. Clues such as droppings, runs and burrows will reveal ratty hotspots, and you will also be able to earmark any potential hazards that might be a problem after dark.
2. Right gun for the job
Guns that are used for ratting around the confines of farm buildings tend to get knocked around. Something compact, and with a tough synthetic stock like the Walther Rotex RM8 UC Mat is using here should stand up to the task.
3. Keep the power down
A lot of airgun hunters are moving to FAC power, but a sub-12 ft-lb airgun with a silencer is the best choice for farmyard ratting. Too much power can be dangerous in confined spaces, and a moderated airgun is less likely to spook livestock or your quarry.
4. Practice at close range
Rat shooting is often carried out at ranges between eight and 20m, which is closer than many airgun shooters might be used to. A practice session tackling targets at shorter distances will ensure that you know where to aim when targeting rats at close quarters.
5. Opt for a mult-shot
Airguns with multi-shot magazines are well suited to night shooting because you don’t have to fumble with pellets every time you reload. Better still, carry a spare mag and have it ready for a quick swap when the first one runs empty.
6. Choose a versatile lamp
You want a fairly lightweight lamp that won’t make your combo feel top-heavy. Adjustable power is also useful, as is the ability to change the colour of the beam, either with filters or by switching LEDs, which can help to outwit lamp-shy quarry.
7. Give them some bait
Using bait is a great way to keep fidgety rats still. Liquidised cat food, peanut butter and chocolate spread can all work well. Pace out the distance between the bait and your shooting position and you will know how far away rats are when they settle to feed.
8. Handy scope features
A scope that parallaxes down to 10m or less is very useful when ratting at close range. An illuminated reticle, like the one on the Richter Optik scope shown here, also helps by making your aim points easy to see against a dark background.
9. Pick a dark night
You would think that all nights are dark, but some are darker than others. Thick cloud cover blocks out light from the moon and the stars, helping to keep you hidden in the darkness.
10. Go hands-free
Farmers will probably want you to clear away shot rats at the end of the session, but don’t use your bare hands as these rodents can carry some nasty diseases. Mat keeps a litter grabber in his boot, but you should be able to find a shovel for the job on most farms.