Tree rats and rodents

Well we start out with a cold frosty December weekend, my little shooting club had the task to deal with some pesky tree rats (squirrels) that we’re attaching our bird feeders and destroying the trees on our wild bird shoot.

Also we had been called in to get the terriers and smokers down to one of my friends chicken farms as the rats had moved under the chicken houses, and we were asked to evict them too so this was going to be a pretty busy weekend.

We were also to have the help of a couple of friends who came over from Buckinghamshire who run a little pest control club. The South Bucks ferreter lampers and terrier club, Gerald and David both top country boys and love nothing better than mooching around their permissions, working their dogs and ferrets to net and gun and I knew these were the boys we needed, to help us on such a weekend of verminating.

So Friday evening the boys turn up at my place with a hungry and thirsty look on their faces its a good job I had done a belly buster rabbit sausage casserole, in my slow cooker and got a barrel of the West Countries finest fermented apple juice in then, eh!

Well the boys tucked into the grub as did my young daughter Emilie and then tucked into my cider lol not Emilie though she had had her fizzy flavored water she likes as she is too young for the cider, The talk that evening was all about the verminating that lay ahead of us and how we were going to approach it I tell you with maps out and pictures I had taken on my phone it was more like a military operation than a day out verminating.

Early Saturday morning we headed out to the woods with my squirrel dray poking poles, the terriers and running dogs and my Emilie armed with her 20 bore shotgun for the tree rats.

We could not shake down, As soon as we got into my woods the dogs do what they do best and went into hunting mode and the hunt was afoot, First my little Lakeland terrier bitch Gyp flushed a rabbit out of deep cover right across the path of one of Davids running dogs, if I would of blinked I would of missed as the rabbit jumped up in the air off a fallen tree stump, but that ole dog knew her stuff and had it safety in hand just like a line out ball with the England Rugby Team, Blimey not five minuets had we been there and already have a nice fresh bunny in hand, I thought ahhhhhh yes this is going to be a good day with proper country boys who know their stuff.


We talk on Facebook a lot and one thing I have noticed are what I like to call all the key board hunters they come out with some of the most ridiculous stuff and well make all proper country folk look as daft as them, So I say any of you key board hunters out there who read don’t take offense but take my advice and just shut up as you are not doing yourselves/your animals/sport or us any favors.

Well good ole Gyp marks the first tree and says tree rat was at home up go my dray poles and give it a good poke as two tree rats make a bolt for it the first I manage to push right out the dray and as it hits the deck Geralds Jack russel bitch also called Gyp(confusing I know) was on it like a flash and so was my Gyp, the second tree rat made a break for it and climbed high up on the branches freezing on the branch but my Emilie saw and said its there Dad, So she took her gun out of the sleeve checked the barrels were clear and under my supervision loaded up and took aim, Pop and she bagged it a cracking shot and a chip off the ole block if I say so myself, as it fell to earth she gave me the gun and went to retrieve her prize before the dogs got hold of it, I think the smile from ear to ear and the cheer from the lads said it all she was over the moon and put it in her game bag and said this one is pop corn squirrel for tea Daddy ok as you know you are the best cook Daddy.

I must say I do rustle up some proper country boy grub but then again that’s how my Pappy taught me how to cook, Well we worked our way through the wood catching rabbits and tree rats alike either the dogs got them or Emilie with her 20 bore, Emilie also bagged a crow and two pigeons too so not only were we getting some great sport and doing a good vermin job but also filling our pantry from natures pantry and best of all it was with great mates and my little girl and some cracking hard working dogs.

Early Sunday morning we head down to the chicken farm of course after a proper hearty West Country boys belly buster fry up and a gallon of fresh tea, As soon as we go there we saw rats dissapeering under the old disused chicken house as my ole mucker the farmer comes out to greet us saying did you see they little buggers, So we got to work terriers/lurchers Gerald and David also Finuala a fiesty Irish lady.

Young sport nick and my reved up daughter Emilie armed with a rat bat, I tell you that daughter of mine reminds me of well me at that age and when it comes to ratting she loves nothing better getting right in there with her rat bat in hand you my laugh but she considerd Gerald was digging to slow so said get out of the way I will do it, She truly goes like something possed when it comes to rat bashing what starts off as a sweet little girl turns into a Tazmanian Devil as soon as the rats start to bolt I always say her and that lakeland bitch Gyp are well matched.

We go round a corner and there is a big green tarpaulin dumped in the corner and both Gyps are going nuts around it will first in before I could blink was Young Emilie with the two terriers quickly followed by Gerald, As they pull the tarpaulin back blimey a big bore rat makes a break for it but too late the terriers were on it in a flash it was that big it didn’t fit in their mouths, Emilie reminded me of a scene from brave heart as she let out a yipppeeeee we got it Daddy Gerald separate the two dogs and that was rat no1 in the bag.

On we moved to the ole chicken shed and again Gerald and Emilie along with the dogs were first in there before the rest of us could make an entrance Gerald had one rat under his boot as Emilie was giving another a head ache with her rat bat and the dogs all had a rat each, Blimey for about an hour it was non stop action and we had the best part of sixty rats all laid out and still the dogs were marking, This is when disaster struck by disaster I mean Gerald breaks my best shovel handle much to the micky taking of the lads and lasses just as the farmers son turns up another one of my shooting club memebers.

Time for a coffee break as we head back to the farm house for coffee and fresh bread and cheese ahhhhhhhh proper grub I telle as I put a gurt(big) chunk of onion on my bigger chunk of cheese, I telle that filled the belly up and stuck to the ribs and ready for the afternnons sport around the barns and the grain mills that was planned for the afternoon, Off we headed again with the dogs waterd and us too with some fuel in our bellies.

The dogs marked the log shed to say ratticuss was at home so Finual/Emilie/Nick and Gerald and the dogs got stuck in David and I stood back with the running just incase we got some bolters in theopen and boy did we, All we could hear in the big log shed was Raaaat then squeek as a terrier got it or it got bashed but then they started bolting out in the open and the running dogs were on them like bolts of lighting, One big sow rat bit one of the running dogs on the nose much to a yelp and that running dog made that rat about two feet by the time it had finished shaking it.


I have always said a good rat pack should have a couple of running dogs in it as its not complete without them and I telle today I saw a team of ratters and dogs gel and have some fantastic sport and do a bloody important vemin job for the farmer, My Emilie slept like a log that night after her tea and a bath and as she talked in her sleep her dreams were filled with rats and terreirs and running dogs and her swinging that ole bat with her arms going like a good un.

Like I say a chip off the ole block as my Dad said I was exactly the same as boy, The boys headed back to Buckinhamshire that evening and again some brilliant memories were that weekend and I still say all fieldsports make memories that will last a life time.

Rob Collins.