Rat control w/ Mat Manning

With this year’s influx of rats refusing to let up, Mat Manning gears up for a long night on the farm.

Last winter’s ratting season was absolutely crazy, and it is now extending well into the spring. A combination of factors, most of them relating to wet and cold weather, pushed an exceptional number of rats onto farmyards following the autumn harvest.

After enjoying a very comfortable winter on the farm, they appear reluctant to leave, and with temperatures rising their breeding rate is also on the up. The only solution for those of us tasked with rat control in situations like this is to put in more hours.

Many of you will know that I am a big fan of the Pard NV008 LRF infrared night vision unit. This sight is packed with features and, most importantly, is easy to use and delivers the goods with minimal fuss. Being so small and light, the Pard is close to being the perfect affordable night hunting sight, but because of its compact proportions it does suffer a little when it comes to battery runtime if you’re planning an extended session.

The main reason why the Pard can be a little too power-hungry is because it runs its own integral IR illuminator from an onboard rechargeable battery, which obviously creates an additional drain. It is not a difficult snag to get around, and simple solutions are to either carry a spare battery or clamp on an external IR. I recently had the opportunity to try the latter when Adrian Brennan at iHunter asked if I would like to put the Brinyte T28-IR Artemis torch through its paces.

The T28-IR is a very neat torch which features a simple switch to shuffle through different light sources, giving you a choice between conventional white light (with a beam range in excess of 500m), 850nm IR and 940nm IR. Whatever light source you choose, turning the head of the torch focuses the beam from a wide flood to a small, tight spot. 

Power level is adjustable by means of a dial on the tail switch and runtime is well in excess of two hours on full output. It weighs about 200g and, measuring less than 19cm in length, is also fairly compact and will fit in the pocket of a hunting jacket if you don’t have it attached to a gun or scope.

The shock- and waterproof Brinyte T28-IR is covered by a five-year warranty, retails for £129.99 and comes with accessories including a stock-mountable remote switch, wrist lanyard, rechargeable battery and USB charging lead. Charging the battery couldn’t be easier as the USB lead simply plugs straight into it – there is even a small light on the battery which shows red while charging and turns blue when full. Other options include the standard T28 Artemis, which offers a choice of red, white and green light and costs £119.99 and the £109 PT18pro Oathkeeper. Various gun and scope-mounting fixtures are available from the iHunter website.

After unpacking the T28-IR the next job was to give the battery a full charge and then couple the torch with my FX Impact MkII and Pard NV008 LRF night shooting combo. 

Mat kitted up his infrared ratting combo with the T28-IR as an external illuminator in order to extend the Pard’s run-time
Mat lines up on another rat during his graveyard foray on the farmyard infestation

I only encountered one hitch, and that was that the torch got in the way of the NV unit’s focusing dial if I mounted it directly to the Pard’s integral Picatinny rail. Thankfully, the FX Impact has side rails of its own and the one on the left provided a secure attachment where the T28-IR wouldn’t get in the way of the sight.

I like to use an angle-adjustable mount when attaching an IR illuminator as it enables me to get the beam correctly aligned with the sight picture. Fiddling around with the dials in the dark isn’t necessary with an illuminator that has a normal white light. On my garden range in daylight with the Pard on day mode and the light on full power I got the two perfectly aligned and focused down to fill the frame with minimal spillage.

A few hours later I was parked up at one of my farm permissions just as dusk was starting to close in. I was itching to put the new IR combo through its paces and given the number of rats on this holding it was likely to be a pretty thorough test.

After loading up the Impact’s high-capacity magazine, I trundled over to a usually very productive area close to a slurry pit and switched on the Pard, choosing its night mode without turning on its IR beam, and then switched on the T28-IR and spent a moment deliberating between the 850nm and 940nm settings. 

The former tends to be brighter but with a slight glow at the lens whereas the latter is a touch weaker but invisible. The 850nm bulb is almost impossible to see, so I opted for that and wound down the power as there was no need to blast it over ratting ranges. I flicked the Pard back to standby mode, ready for action, but left the T28-IR running. Constantly switching electronic kit on and off can become a bit of a rigmarole, so I decided to give the battery a real test.

It wasn’t long before I was onto the rats, and a steady procession of scaly-tails darting between a heap of rubble and the slurry pit kept me entertained for the next hour or so. I must have accounted for a dozen or so rats when the activity suddenly dried up, prompting me to move on and try another spot, and I must say that it was very nice having the T28’s white light to hand when making my way around the farm.

I don’t like waving a gun around when using a mounted lamp as a light source, but because I had attached the Picatinny mount finger-tight I was able to detach the torch and use it hand-held. That’s the beauty of the Picatinny system, and by checking that the mount went back into the correct notch on the rail I was able to ensure that it went back in the right place when it needed to return it to its primary duty as an IR illuminator.

The boosted IR setup resulted in a bright, clear picture through the Pard NV008 LRF
By unscrewing the Picatinny mount, Mat was able to detach the lamp and use it as a hand-held torch

Action resumed at my second port of call, which was a large shed overlooking a cattle pen. With livestock close by, this area has to be shot with extreme caution, but there were plenty of safe opportunities to pick off rats as they followed an outer wall on their way to raid the cattle feed and around a stack of pallets they were hiding beneath.

This spot made for some really exciting shooting. The rats here get a hammering from cats and owls, so they spend a lot of time hiding amongst cover in an effort to avoid predator attacks. Nailing these scaly-tails takes patience as you usually spot them moving amongst nettles and rubble or beneath pallets and have to sit tight until they peep out and offer a clear head shot. You need to have your wits about you and grab opportunities when they present themselves, but it is extremely gratifying when one slips up and ends up on the receiving end of a pellet.

About three hours into the session I decided to turn off the T28-IR and switch to the illuminator on the Pard, which was holding out well without the usual IR drain. The decision was based on the fact that I wanted to have some life left in the torch to use it for picking up at the end of the session. The Pard ran for another hour before its battery died and, to be honest, I wasn’t sorry that it did. It doesn’t get dark until fairly late now that the clocks have changed; the time was approaching 1am and I had to be up bright and breezy for work in the morning.

My extended stint produced no fewer than 40 rats, and the torch battery held out long enough for me to gather them up by the bucketful and dispose of them in the slurry pit. It had been a brilliant night: I’d dealt the farm’s resident rat population another serious blow and the Brinyte T28-IR Artemis had given an excellent account of itself. 

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