Right let’s get one thing straight before I go any further with this article, I do not write technical articles, it’s not the fact that I cannot write them, it’s quite simply it bores the living backside off of me, for some that’s what they love to write and for some of you the readers that’s what you love to read, but that’s just not for me, so if you want a technical article stop reading now and bugger off and read some other muckers well written piece on the subject.
Now that said rant over let’s get you out to the hunting field with me and see if we can find ourselves tucked under an old oak tree with the soft summer wind on our faces and the ever so slowly setting sun at our backs whilst we wait for a rabbit or two to come hopping from the safety of their warrens out to feed on the lush meadow laid out before us.
Nothing makes me think of how my journey into rifle shooting started more than 30 years ago than the mighty little .22 rim-fire rifle, over the years I have hunted or shot targets all over the world with some if not all the calibre’s there are right up to 50 cal, but nothing makes me smile more and gives me more pleasure to shoot than the mighty little .22 rim-fire, for it was with this little rifle I shot my first rabbit on my rifle shooting journey some 35 years ago now, that distinct thumb when the little bullet made contact on target as the rabbit jumped in the air then lay stone dead on the floor 40 yards away as my Pappy/Dad and uncle Dave looked on.
I still smile with pride now at just that memory with my mentors looking on at me as I took the rabbit open sighted with Uncle Dave’s rifle with the Martini Action on his own farm, the farm was where they all taught me how to shoot everything from air rifle and air pistol to shot gun and back in those days live shot pistols too, this was where my Uncle Dave taught me how to shoot open sighted with everything from .22 rim-fire right up to the 303 Lee Enfield, Uncle Dave’s farm was a paradise for a country boy like me to grow up on, with mentors that many can only dream of.
So my love and passion for this mighty little calibre that punches way above and beyond its weight goes back to well my childhood, it’s also the calibre that pretty much everyone starts off with and although they may move up to bigger calibers the .22 rim-fire is the one caliber that pretty much every one keeps across the sands of time, it’s what I consider the farmers gun the land rover gun the choice of the countryman no matter where you are from, it matters not if you are in the back woods of the United States hunting squirrel the high planes of Australia smacking feral cats or in a majestic lush green meadow in my Beloved Somerset here in England.
I wrote an article called Sweet 17 all about the 17hmr another nice caliber but most certainly not my favorite caliber nor does it hold such a fond memory or do I have the same passion for it as I have for the .22 rim-fire, others may disagree and although I shoot very well with the 17hmr for me it’s still a very expensive and obtrusive crack from the muzzle report of that caliber, I will say though as part of my professional pest control business both rifles get used an awful lot as I consider them both to have the quality needed for each individual job I ask to do, or as my Pappy would say use the right size hammer to hit the nail in the whole, I will tell you of this a little further on in this article.
I get called out to some pretty sensitive VIP jobs at some very high profile venues, in fact I now shoot well over 21.000 acres on my books ranging from Cornwall right up to Scotland from West Wales right over to East Anglia and everywhere in between, you see my clients call upon me after being highly recommended, I really have no need to advertise my services for pest control/deer management/habitat management etc, you see I work very hard as my good reputation goes before me, its taken the best part of 25 years to build my highly recommended reputation and those that truly know me know I have earned every part of this fine reputation for a job well done.
My Pappy always said you are only as good as your last job and he was right to the wise old goat that he was god rest his soul, so I treat every job and client with the same high standards no matter weather a lord or a small holding and that is why some of the huge clients I do I have had on the books for over 20 years.
I was taught by the masters my mentors and they taught me to use the best tools you can afford for the job in hand, this is something I pride myself in buy once cry once, I have used all sorts of .22 rim-fire ammo over the last 25 years but finally settled for the Winchester 40grn sub Sonic’s, that was until they changed them and my rifles hated the new ones so a search was made for a replacement, I have now settled for the Fiocchi subs I get from www.reallywildadventures.co.uk they are deadly accurate pack an almighty punch and do what they say on the tin, normal service has been resumed.
I do a lot of high profile sports grounds as part of my work, I have found that on the driving ranges of golf courses the .22 rim-fire is a fantastic tool, it’s almost silent and bowls rabbits over lovely out to a 100 yards, now I know some of us can shoot further but I don’t like too, my rule is inside a 100 yards that’s the .22 rim-fire territory and no other caliber is allowed in this hallowed ground, not only that the rounds are a fraction of the cost of other calibers and its quite no obtrusive muzzle reports, 100 yards to 200 yards that’s the 17hmr territory so like I said both guns have their place in my armoury, after 200 yards learn your field craft and get closer or use another method of control, I am talking rabbit control here by the way, I also love to use the awesome NiteSite Wolf with both these rifles on my rabbit control etc.
I will take you along for a hunt with me, I am called out by a frantic golf course owner, a friend of another client of mine, the poor fellow sounded like he was at his whit’s end he really did not know what to do with himself, I went along in daylight to view the problem site and to hear his tale of woe.
I like to view every job in daylight not only to see the damage but track and build up a picture of what’s safe to shoot and what’s not etc, I also use infa red glow sticks with the night vision to mark off safety zones or no shoot zones, I could see what the poor fellow was talking about as I drove up the beautiful drive up to the club house, rabbits were all over the place I could of shot a dozen on my way up, but until my contract is signed and all the paper work done, I will never take a gun from its slip, what’s the point in having the insurance etc if you don’t cross the Ts and dot the I,s, also this covers your back side if the police are called etc in the early hours or late at night whilst you are there on vermin control duty, you will be surprised how often the police do get called after some old lady takes one look at you as you take a gun from the truck as they are walking their dog or something.
The place was like water ship down on speed, there were rabbits everywhere they also had another problem the place was swarming with rooks and other corvids, the rabbits ate everything and dug holes everywhere the corvids(crow family) destroyed the greens in search of worms and grubs etc, literally thousands of pounds worth of damage daily was being caused so you can see why the poor fellow was at his whit’s end, I explained this is not going to be an overnight solution and will be an on-going job, you know I have been on that site the best part of ten years now and I tell you it looks a much different place because of my presence.
All the paper work signed I met the green keeping team and advised them of what they could do to help etc, I also got asked to deal with the ever growing mole problem too but we will get to that in another article.
I remember starting off on the driving range this particular evening, I set up the .22 rim-fire on the NiteSite Viper and put the NiteSite Wolf on my 17hmr this was because some of the rabbits would be further than 100 yards, how did I know this? because the kindly golf course owner had range markers clearly displaying the ranges with windage flags attached to each one.
I thought to myself how kind of him to set me up a functioning rifle range, I still say to this day a golf course is a wilful miss use of a perfectly good rifle range, so with the flags and markers I can tell exactly how far these rabbits are and tell the windage etc, this was like the Rolls Royce of rabbit control for this rough ole country boy.
Just picture this I am sat there under the nice roof cover of the driving range, all set up both rifle with a NiteSite system on them on a sturdy table with sand bags on and my ole Dad armed with the NiteSite spotter calling the targets for me as they enter the arena for the games to begin, this really was a palace for a rabbit shooter like me, that and with a fresh supply of hot tea or coffee too, Boys I telle it just don’t get any better than this.
Dad spots the first rabbit coming in from the hedgerow to the right he stopped between the 50 and 60 yard marker, I estimated about 56 yards cranked up the .22 rim-fir and NiteSite Viper and well the rest was as easy as pie as I let him have it, the rabbit jumped in the air and dropped stone dead to the perfect head shot, I made the gun safe and went back to drinking my tea sat on my comfy chair inside stand number 1 of the driving range building, I thought blimey I could get used to this if the shooting went on like that, for an hour or so the rabbits started to come out at 100 yards+ so the 17hmr came out to play and did very well too, I switched between each gun as the rabbits came out at their respective ranges for the next hour or so, by the time we had finished we had a pile of empty bullet cases on the floor and a large pile of very dead rabbits to pick up.
Although the 17 hmr played a part here it was the .22 that filled the bag cost a lot less in ammo and I enjoyed the most, I know some of you reading this will say I am not going back to a .22 and then there are those who love nothing more than their .22 like me.
I even love .22 in my air rifles as below bagging bunnies on the golf course with the awesome NiteSite System.
My final thoughts as I order another 500 rounds of Fiocchi .22 rim-fire rounds from www.theoutpostshop.co.uk is never under estimate the mighty little .22 rim-fire she is as feisty as Jack Russell and as smooth as Cadbury’s Caramel, there will always be a place for the .22 rim-fire in my gun room and will always be my first choice when it comes to my vermin control.
I hope you have enjoyed this as much as I have enjoyed writing it, please keep your letters and emails coming in and we will do our very best to get back to you, but some do get through the net just like a rabbit slipping out of a purse net, until my next article come find me on face book on The Old Hedge Creepers page or on The Countryman’s Diary. RIM-FIRE REVIVAL By The Ole Hedge Creeper www.theolehedgecreeper.co.uk
Some rabbit and pigeon/squirrel dishes me and my muckers make. if you would like my cook books they are available from over at www.theoutpostshop.co.uk