Mat Manning explains how to successfully shoot rats when they are out of range…
Q. I’m struggling to get shots at the rats on my farmyard permission. The rodents are addicted to the feed in the stock pens – where I’m not allowed to shoot – and won’t pause anywhere else. What can I do?
A. This is a problem I’m sure a lot of airgun shooters have had to endure – it’s certainly something that I’ve had to contend with on numerous occasions. Used responsibly, the airgun is a great tool for controlling rats in close proximity to farm animals, but some farmers will always be uneasy about letting you shoot in buildings where stock is usually kept.
The rats’ reaction is understandable: they’ve become accustomed to an easy feed supply in a place that offers them a reasonable degree of protection – not only from shooters but also from natural predators, such as owls and foxes. Fortunately, however, there is a solution.
It’s likely that the rats aren’t actually nesting in the stock units – their lairs are more likely to be in banks, under tyre stacks and near silage clamps and slurry lagoons. You need to target the rats around these places or along the routes they use to access their feeding grounds.
You say the rats won’t settle anywhere else, but I expect they would if you offered them something more appealing than what they’re used to. Cheap coffee granules and small fishmeal pellets have worked for me, and liquidised cat food is even better if you’re prepared to go to the trouble of making it. Rats struggle to resist this smelly slop, and because it’s liquid, they have to stop if they want to get a decent mouthful – pour it into a plastic bottle and you shouldn’t get into too much mess as you dispense blobs along rat-runs. You may have to prebait with your chosen offering for one or two nights before each session, but I’m sure you’ll be able to persuade rats to offer you shots before they reach those stock pens.