Its a frosty bitter cold but beautiful winters day here in Somersetshire, the sun is shining bright and I have just got home from my Professional Poison Free Pest Control Rounds, the air rifle of choice on the Grey Squirrel control on the estate of late has been the awesome Air Arms TX200 spring power under leaver Air Rifle, in .22 my favorite calibre, I will say this rifle is the most accurate and smooth spring powered air rifle, straight out of the box I have ever used, I do have the 177 version too, that is just as good, but .22 is my preferred calibre for hunting with, I will tell you of our adventures in the following chapters.
But first I must give a massive shout out to Dean Smallwood of ADG Custom Knives, Dean has finished my very own design of my knife, The Ole Hedge Creepers Muckers Knife, its a Countryman’s/Woodsman’s/Stalkers/ Bush Craft Knife, a razors edge is a dull edge compared to this knife, hand crafted from scratch of the finest materials and designed by an artisan master knife craftsman, this blade holds such a sharp edge, those that know their blades, will know what I mean when I say, it sings when you breath on it, with a Walnut handle for traditional roots, it has full tang and comes in a hand made and hand stitched veg tan leather sheath, I will say if your every going to buy a knife, buy this one, its an investment you can hand down through your generations, if you look after it correctly, buy once, cry once as my Pappy taught me, this is not a cheap Chinese piece of rubbish, this is a hand made quality ENGLISH craftsmanship blade of excellence, if you want one of my knives or any of the vast array of blades from Dean, just go over to The Out Post Shop and click on the knives section of my shop website theoutpostshop.co.uk purchase yourself a piece of English Craftsmanship History, a truly functional working piece of art.
Back In The Woods With The Ole Hedge Creeper.
Our first trip out with the awesome Air Arms TX200 finds Goose (my cocker spaniel) and I out at first light tucked up against an old fallen Yew Tree, its bitter cold with a good frost on the ground, I was glad of my Jack Pyke gear and my and my Mac Wet gloves too as it was bitter cold, that Jack Pyke gear not only kept me warm but kept me concealed too, just look how well that English Oak pattern really blended in brilliantly, the squirrels never saw me or Goose from my lofty position over looking one of my feed rides, this shoot is a Young Sports Shoot, they are my junior under keepers, the ethics of this shoot is that all Country Sports and Conservation walk hand in hand, we have a Grey Partridge programme here, these are not to be shot, this is our attempt to reintroduce this almost extinct Wild English Partridge back to our area, of course we have Pheasants and French Red Leg Partridges here too, I also teach how we have to keep a balance on the vermin control too, keeping the wheels of our great eco system running like a well oiled machine, we have a huge unchecked for many years Grey Squirrel problem too here on this huge woodland estate, now the Grey Squirrel is a non native American invader, its almost single handedly wiped out our native red squirrel with its ghastly squirrel pox that it carries, the unrepairable damage to our ancient forestry and broad leaf trees and more is devastating, let alone the viscous damage it does to our song bird population and ground nesting birds, this is one reason so many species are in such a decline, the Grey invader is directly responsible, take a look at the photos of the squirrels eating adult birds and fledglings and the eggs from the song bird nests, The Air Arms TX200 is the perfect air rifle for dealing with these tree rats, deadly accurate, with a humane dispatch with each shot on target.
Like I say we are there at first light, my apprentice joined me later that morning and who took the photos, Goose and I tucked down in by the old fallen Yew Log in the plantation overlooking the game feeders, I always feed until late spring, not so much for the wild game birds, but to help feed our song birds etc, I will write about all the bird boxes and habitat we have created for nature in another article, but for now know this is why we are here, to deal with the ever growing hoard of these Grey squirrel invaders, the first of these started to show itself within moments of us getting into position, I watched this tree rat come in from quite a distance, he got to the base of the feeder approximately 30 yards away, I took a steady aim from off of my knee, took a breath exhaled and squeezed off the shot, the sound of a cricket ball hitting the hickory is the only way I can describe this perfect head shot, Goose stayed in position on point by my side until I gave him the order to fetch, he had already marked the shot squirrel from our snipers nest against the log, I sent him on, he was in and back out with the squirrel in his chops as silent as a ghost, this young dog really has a passion for retrieving tree rats, the next few hours went on like that until the apprentice turned up, who was shocked how well we had done, I did move positions a couple of times along the log too, I knew I had amassed quite a pile but had not counted, Goose really enjoyed himself too as he had lots of retrieves, what I will say and I have said it before, the Air Arms TX200 in the right hands is a surgical instrument, it shoots as smooth as silk and has a deadly accurate humane dispatch on target, making this rifle the best on the market in my humble opinion, the Air Arms Pro Sport is in second place.
The next time we were out on the estate we did a lot of stalking and ambush stalking, my apprentice joined me on this one, I used an old keepers trick with the squirrel shooting here, Goose is remarkable with squirrels, he can find them so well, he has a real passion for them for such a young dog, if that boy marks a tree you can lay money a squirrel is up in the lofty canopy, he never fails I tell you, the trick is you get each side of the tree, the squirrel will move away from one or the other of you or squat flat on a branch, if you are on your own you can hang your jacket up this sometimes has the desired effect too, finding the tree rat can be tricky, especially in an Oak Tree plantation or forest, but if Goose says a tree rat is up there, then he is up there, I use my scope on the rifle mounted on my Primos trigger sticks to study the entire tree, nine out of ten times I find them, this is when you really have to be a good shot, when they are squatted flat as a pancake on a branch high up in the canopy, obviously its easier at this time of year with no leaves on the trees, its damn near impossible in the summer when the canopy is in full green, again we stalked around the forestry plantations using these methods, as well as hiding under cover along some of the feed rides at likely spots, my apprentice was using my 177 version of the TX200 as that’s his preferred calibre, he dealt with a few grey invaders very smoothly too, another impressive bag of tree rats, one thing I will say is these Air Arms TX200s are not for the less strong folk out there, they take some cocking as you will see in the video that is with this article, one thing I will be fitting is a rifle sling, after carrying the gun around all day, my arms were hanging off as they are not a light rifle, but what I will say is the weight gives you quality and cuts the recoil right down.
The last trip out was on a local farm, a very old client of mines place, I was asked could I take a look at the lambs as a number of rats had been building up, so had the feral pigeons and the Corvid attacks on the lambs too, this always happens here at this time of the year, I have in the passed shot some huge bags of Corvid’s/Rats and Foxes at this venue, I will include an old pic of me holding a lamb, who’s litter mate had been killed and its eyes pecked out, the red of the blood from its eyes shows it was still alive, blind and dyeing from the Corvid’s (crow family) attack, with its eyes gone and it belly ripped open, I served divine retribution that day I telle, if you watch the video attached you will see me shoot a rat on camera, I could not have timed it any better if I had tried, but what you will see is the smooth as a well oiled machine TX200 in action, we accounted for quite a pile of mixed vermin on that job that day, feral pigeons/mixed Corvid’s/rats and squirrels too, The Air Arms TX200 is a cracking spring powered under leaver air rifle, like I say in my humble opinion its the best on the market, the only other springer to come close is another Air Arms, the Pro Sport, I hope you have enjoyed my humble scribbles and I wish you all to stay safe and well, all that’s left to say is as always, any Air Arms Air Rifle, with The Ole Hedge Creeper behind the butt, now that’s a winning combination right there.