Spring is in the Air

I am often asked what is my favorite gun and in what caliber??? Well I answer this quite easily as it all depends on what quarry I am after on that particular outing, I have said before using my builder terms I would not use a screw driver to lay a brick if you get what I am saying, My Pappy (granddad) was my biggest mentor and always taught me to use the right tool for for the job in hand
Now I know I have written many times about my Pappy (granddad) but he was a wise old goat and had forgotten more about fieldsports and hunting the world over than I will ever know, I truly hope to fill at least one of his boots before the great spirit calls me up into his house and hopefully Pass On his teaching to as many young hunters or huntresses before I get that calling.
Pappy taught me so much about life religion honor and courage and especially fieldsports for if you have read any of my books you will know the good ole springer air rifle was my first gun to be taught with and in .22 that is still my preferred caliber now.
Although in recent years I have moved with the times and started using Air Arms pcp rifles and I must admit I do love them especially my Air Arms S410 in .22 although I do have .177s too, But I still love with a passion the springer air rifle and the one that has truly got me hooked of recent months is the Air Arms TX200, WOW what a gun straight from the box its smooth its astoundingly accurate and boy oh boy it packs an almighty punch on small vermin i,e rabbit/squirrel and rat and The pigeons and corvids(crow family) just have no idea what has hit them as they are dead in the blink of an eye.
Now I have heard all sorts of tales of people with air rifles taking foxes and the likes but this is not for me as for me an air rifle is for small ground vermin and legal bird species, If you want to take bigger stuff get the right tool for the job i,e a rim fire or center fire or a shot gun were needed.
That’s not saying that in other countries the higher powered air rifle does not have a place as it does and fills a spot perfectly in the range of calibers and various hunting rifles and the quarry that it has to take, But in my beloved Britain I personally believe there are no need for those sort of weapons here as the FAC Air rifles we already have fill the gap between sub 12ft lb Air rifles and the .22 rimfire rifle upwards perfectly.
Now back to the spring powered air rifles shooting with a springer is a different style to the PCP and you have to learn about the recoil etc, So when I start teaching a youngster or indeed a hmmmmmmm not so young hunter I always start them off with a spring powerd air rifle, Also teaching them field craft as well as tracking and using the wind as well as hold over and hold under and legal quarry as well as field dressing your quarry (not rats) so that they learn how to take it from field to fork.
I will tell you of one such day just recently with a top young sport who is a member of my shooting club The Woodspring Pigeon Shooting & Wildfowling Club, I got a call from one of my land owners asking can we come down to the farm yard and deal with the  growing number of ground and flying vermin around the barns and silage pits etc.
It was also requested that we don’t use shot guns as the live stock might get jumpy and there was a horse in foul and was about ready to drop, No problem was my answer as we would use air rifles so would be less obtrusive than the shot gun but just as effective if not sometimes more effective as there would not be those loud obtrusive bangs that is characteristic of the shotgun.
After a quick call around the club lads and young shots only Nick was available to shoot as the normal air rifle lads were busy and the other  older club members still consider the air rifle to be a toy gun, I have lost count how many times I have had bigger bags than those using a shot gun on the same day but hey ho lets get on with the story.
I picked Nick up and said its a springer day as I had an Air Arms TX200 for each of us one in .22 and one in.177 I gave Nick the choice as to what caliber he wanted to use, Ahhhh blimey he only chose the .22 so nothing for it I would have to choose the .177 oh well on wards and upwards.
As soon as we pulled up outside the farm house there sat a fat plump woody high in the branches of an old oak tree so I quickly loaded the TX200 and took aim upon its head I gave it a little hold over and a little windage took a breath and squeezed the trigger, The distinct recoil and pop of the spring powered air rifle took me back to my child hood and the first time I fired a springer, The pellet sailed true and a distinctive thack was heard and the woodpigeon fell to the ground with all the grace of a ballerina on swan lake I must admit I was rather chuffed with that shot as too was Nick as he was as excited as a polecat faced with a rat.
Well a good shot but my verdict is still out on the .177 but I will say the caliber is growing on me but I am no convert yet as the .22 is still very much my favorite caliber of choice and always choose the .22 first over anything else.
After a quick safety talk of were and were not to take shots etc like shooting holes in my farmers barn roofs as other people have in the past and are no longer welcome on the farms etc, We stalked our way around the yards stealthily investigating every nook and cranny watching Nick stalk and hunt it reminded me of a time when I was his age and stalking around this very farm shooting the rats with my school chum the farmers Son.
Nick all of a sudden froze with one foot slightly off the ground it reminded me of my old  Black Labrador Hollie who would go on point when she found game hiding oh the memories of long forgotten days whilst out hunting I am sure you can all remember such days.
Nick dropped down and and snook behind an old stone wall coming up over it with the gun at the ready I did not move what had he seen??? Then that tale tale thwach of the of the air rifle as the pellet left the gun then the distinctive thump as the pellet sailed true, What had he shot???? then on the wind I saw a load of white downy pigeon feathers float across on the wind almost like a snow blizzard as Nick went off to retrieve his prize that he had harvested from mother natures pantry.
It was a woodpigeon he had seen feeding in one of the cattle feeders and as he brought it back as proud as punch he said this one will go with the rabbit I shot last night for a stew I am cooking for the family, Nick is also a passionate game cook and has already made several of my recipes from my cook book especially one of my Pappies ones called sheikhs delight to find out what that is you will need to get my game cookery book from www.fourteenacre.co.uk and look on the Pass It On Page.
So we continued to stalk around the yards and barns checking all the likely places and well over the years since I was a young lad hunting here I know all the good ambush places and how to approach them so giving us a best chance at a shot on the quarry we were after.
Indeed I let  Nick do most of the shooting as its so good to see a young man out there enjoying fieldsports and taking home some of the fine bounty that mother nature has bestowed upon us.
By The time we had finished we had a good mixed bag from  several wood pigeon too feral pigeons as well as several rats a squirrel and 3 magpies and all shot with the trusty old spring powered Air Arms TX200, As for me it was magical day as I had passed on some of my Pappies(granddad) teachings that he himself had taught me on this very farm as a young boy.
In fact later that evening I sat down with farmer over a mug of tea and some wonderful cake that his good lady had cooked in the wood-fired stove and enjoyed tales of when him and my Dad were boys doing what I had been doing today with the young sport Nick, Perhaps I will relate some of these old time tales in another article or three or perhaps in my next book.
If you would like to see us in action or meet any of the shooting club etc then you will find us helping Pass It On Young Sports at their many taster days or on their stands at the many game fairs around the country, And never forget their motto TOGETHER WE CAN INSPIRE.
Spring Is In The Air.
BY The Ole Hedge Creeper.