A word to the wise.
Those of you, dear readers that were paying attention may recall from my previous ramblings my mentioning a rifle called the Umarex 850 Airmagnum. What follows is a cautionary tale so pay attention.
To begin let me tell you a little of the rifle in question. The 850 Airmagnum is as fine a piece of Teutonic engineering as you could hope to find. Standing a modest 41 inches long and featuring a fully rifled barrel of 24 inches approximately.
A feature of the rifle I liked was the automatic reset able safety positioned within easy reach of your thumb. Good idea. Unlike most air rifles, this piece of German hardware received power by two twelve gram CO2 capsules. It was an eight shot .22 versions in a wood stock, possibly Beech, and I had fitted a bipod to aid stability and topped her off with a Hawke 3-9 X 40 scopes.
Overall weight was around the eight and a half pound mark. On a warm day shots of 730 feet per second plus could be achieved. Good times. As with all my rifles I spent the time to make sure the scope was set correctly both horizontally as well as vertically with a little help from a plumbline hung at the front door to my abode and a little bubble level.
Something that my wife found vexing at times , especially on opening the front door to be confronted with my hulking form hunched behind a rifle and pointing towards the front door so hence at her. Needless to say, the rifle was not loaded and neither was the wife too impressed by my diligence to accuracy.
That rifle gave me many a happy plinking session in the family grounds of the family pile. Many a CO 2 cartridge was emptied and tins of pellets converted to lead waste.
As the seasons changed and spring came around thoughts of hunting came to mind. One problem was the lack of hunting permissions. Step forward Uncle Harry. A keen golfer and as it happens he was treasurer of the local golf club. A quick chat with the club secretary and the permission slips were signed. Oh very happy days.
So my little shooting syndicate was set. Our own permission secured, the weather getting milder, rifles zeroed and a free pass off the wife secured for the weekend. Happy happy days indeed.
And so, dear readers, the faithful evening of the first attempt at our new permission. My son, Christopher, and I loaded the car with our guns and gear. The local Police were informed of our intentions and we were off. We parked the car in Warremby near the old railway crossing and decided to work our way towards the clubhouse. This would put the steel works behind us so keeping the glare from its lights out of our eyes.
I believe the German pilots used this tactic in World War 2.
We got the guns out of their cases and I bombed up my magazine and loaded it into the rifle. We were set. After locking the car, we set off. The golf course has a public footpath that crosses it so we set off following its course. Our heads on a swivel our eyes scanning the paths verge and across the greens, fairway and rough around us. Our ears strained. Our senesces on high alert.
We would take a few paces then pause to watch and listen. A rustling to our right drew our attention. We both swivelled in the sounds direction. Rifles raised to our shoulders scanning the ground ahead of us. Christopher moved to his left and I moved right. A few steps then pause. Looking, listening.
As I moved a few paces there was a flurry of movement a clatter of wings and a piercing shrill noise. My heart rate went ballistic and I nearly soiled my under garments. Id almost stood on a damn bird. A few expletives rent the air and im sure; I heard a giggle from my son’s location. Ah well. Round one to Mother Nature. Back to the hunt for Mr Bunny.
Christopher decided to go further along the footpath then turn towards the clubhouse and meet up further along the final fairway.
Now our golf course has a little water culvert than runs along its length. I chose to follow this and see what turned up. A rabbits got to drink right.
So off I set. I would take a few steps then stop and watch and listen. The lights from the steel works created deep shadows in the culvert. A quick flash of the torch mounted on my rifle gave me a glimpse into those dark corners.
Nothing. Move on. A sudden barely discernable sound stopped me dead. I held my breath and strained my ears. Definitely a rustling among the reeds. I raised my rifle to my shoulder and scanned the area I thought I had heard the noise. My senses primed and rifle ready I slipped off the safety and lit the area with my torch.
At first, I saw nothing. I played the beam slowly across the area along the edge of the culvert. A movement caught my eye. There, a rat scurrying along the waters edge. I turned off the torch for a second before illuminating the area again. The rat was sat on its haunches, my crosshairs settled on its head and I squeezed the trigger. The only sound I heard was the hammer striking the air valve. The rat took off. Damn it, I had missed.
Quickly I operated the 850s bolt to reload and took off after the rat. A dozen or so paces the rat stopped caught in my torch beam. I dropped to one knee, took aim and squeezed off the shot. A dead cert this time. That rat was one lucky rat. I missed again. Quickly cycling the bolt, I aimed again. The bullet-proof rat hit the water and was gone.
Bugger it. Two shots taken and two misses. This was not turning out to be a good night.
I sat down and had a smoke. Time to get back in the zone.
Ciggie finished I moved on. Scanning the area around. There, sky lined, a pair of ears caught my eye. I dropped to one knee and raised my rifle to my eye.
Definitely a rabbit up on its back legs and scanning the surrounding area. I stayed motionless watching my bunny through my scope. Estimating the range and allowing a little hold over I settled the cross hair just behind its eye, slipped off the safety and released the shot.
Again the sound of the hammer striking the air valve. I remained in the aim holding the trigger. The rabbit stayed on its back legs. What was going on. I was missing easy sitters.
I reloaded and took up the aim again. Sight picture obtained and trigger squeezed. The sound of the hammer on air valve. This time the rabbit shot off. I swore . I swore a lot.
Christopher decided to make an appearance . The usual question “any thing?”
“Had a pop at a rat and just missed a rabbit. You?”
We both had a ciggie.
Smokes finished we set off towards the clubhouse. Back in hunting mode again.
We stalked to within a few hundred yards of the 19th hole and saw nothing so we headed across the course and back to the car. Now we had the steel works lights in our eyes. All the way back to the car, we saw nothing. Those lights were bloody bright.
Have you noticed when you’re out hunting, dear reader how quick time goes by? According to our watches, we had been on the golf course for nearly four hours. So much for a quick hour or two.
After unlocking the car, we started to pack up. Torches were removed. Jackets were removed. Boots changed, no muck in my car, and rifles unloaded.
Christopher fired his rifle into the ground to clear it. I removed the magazine and, aimed at a tin can, fired off the shot to clear the barrel. The can didn’t move.
What the hell was going on. Had I knocked the scope? Was my skill not up the job?
I reloaded and took aim again at the can. The can stayed put. This was not looking good. I loaded another pellet, took aim, and fired again. Nothing. Nada.
Now I was really using a lot of profanities.
By now the rifles magazine was depleted. I reloaded a few pellets into it and fitted it onto my rifle. Christopher put the can on a post. I took aim and fired. That can never moved. I cycled the bolt and fired again. Still it stayed defiantly on its post. What the hell was going on.
I unloaded the magazine from the gun and fired of the action to clear the chamber.
Tentatively I began undoing the brass cap on the air cylinder. It came off without a hiss. Strange. Once the cap was off, I pointed the muzzle to the ground to let the CO2 canisters to fall out.
Nothing came out. My darling sensitive son exploded in apoplexies laughter. The bloody rifle had no CO2 in it. I had taken nearly a dozen shots. All the pellets were now stuck in the barrel. Oh Bugger. Having a rummage in my pocket, I found two cartridges, put them in the air cylinder, and screwed on the cap.
I took aim at the can on its post, slipped off the safety catch, and squeezed the trigger. The hammer hit the air valve and the rifle bucked. Actual recoil. The can flew off its post, peppered. Thank god, the barrel had been cleared. Christopher was by now fighting to get his breath he was laughing that much. I unloaded the rifle and put it in its case. My dear man-child son was sworn to secrecy on pain unimaginable and we went home.
So take heart, dear reader, even the most experienced of us shooters make mistakes. Our sport can be a cruel mistress at times. Whether you choose to share you, misfortune is up to you. Myself, I choose to tell the tales before my dear son does.
That is all for now dear reader. I wish you well.
Stay safe and shoot straight.