It probably sounds very strange to people who don’t shoot – and probably to quite a few people who do – but I get really excited about the arrival of wintery weather and shorter days as the year approaches its end. I have always preferred the cooler months over the warmer ones, and one of the main reasons is that deteriorating weather usually brings a serious boost to shooting opportunities – especially when you’re setting your sights on rats. 

Most of my ratting permissions were comparatively quiet through the summer and early-autumn months. That lack of activity is quite typical and can be attributed to the fact that rats enjoy a good life out on the open countryside when the weather is warm and natural food is abundant. Things are different now, though, and the rodents have started to migrate to the sanctuary of the farmyard. Colder weather, accompanied by some serious flooding, has forced them to seek shelter around sheds and barns. The ratty exodus is compounded by the sudden reduction in food now that the later crops have been brought in – and hungry rodents know that they can always find an easy meal around the farm. 

The BOG DeathGrip Tripod provides super-steady gun support and Mat was eager to pit it against the rats. 
It was clear that rats had been enjoying a free meal from the feed sacks. 
Mat kicked off by loading up the magazine of his FX Dreamline with QYS Domed pellets. 


As is my usual preference, I was on the farm well before nightfall for my latest ratting foray. I try to arrive during daylight because it means I can have a proper look around to check for ratty activity and any potential hazards. It also happened that I was trying out some new kit on this occasion, and it is always useful not to have to fumble around in the dark when setting up with somewhat unfamiliar gear. 

A quick stroll around the yard confirmed that there were certainly a few rats on the holding. Sacks used to store milled feed on one side of a large grain store had been nibbled to pieces by ravenous rodents, which had also left plenty of their tell-tale droppings amongst the debris on the ground. 

Judging by the signs I found, the rats were certainly most active around this grain store – and who can blame them with so much food on offer! A spot in an adjacent barn offered me a sheltered vantage point from which I could cover a large section of the grain store, the feed sacks and a scrubby patch of undergrowth that the rats appeared to be using as a highway between a huge heap of rubble – where I guess they were nesting – and the food source. I actually saw two rats on the move during daylight hours, which is unusual on this particular farm and made me all the more eager to get cracking. 

Matt 1
With his airgun held securely in the DeathGrip’s cradle, Mat was treated to an extremely stable shooting platform. 


After loading the magazine of my .177 calibre FX Dreamline Classic with the 9.56-grain version of QYS Domed pellets – a round which it really seems to like – I turned my attention to the new kit I was planning to use. One of the great things about airgun shooting is that you can make it as simple or sophisticated as you like, and whilst I would be the first person to say that the spring-gun and lamping tactics many of us were using 20 or 30 years ago still work as well as ever, there is no denying that modern equipment can really improve results. 

One of the those advanced pieces of gear to be deployed on this session was the BOG DeathGrip Carbon Tripod from Sportsman Gun Centre. Retailing at over £400, this is a pricey bit of kit and certainly not an essential one, but for those who can justify the outlay, it is a quality item that brings a remarkable boost to accuracy. Comparatively light and extremely stable, this tripod clamps to your gun and its angle-adjustable extendable legs make it suitable for standing, sitting, kneeling and even prone shots. The part which cradles your gun sits on a ball-joint with variable torque – so you can slacken it off to get your gun dead on aim, and then tighten it to create a rock-steady shooting platform. The DeathGrip Tripod had already proved to be extremely effective during a practice session on my garden range, and I couldn’t wait to put it though its paces during a proper outing on the rats. 

Another new piece of kit I was eager to draft into action was the Pard DS35 50RF Gen2 night-vision scope. Costing around £850, this digital scope is another accessory that entails a hefty outlay; like the tripod, though, it is a very impressive piece of kit and it’s certainly worth its asking price. Most significantly, that price includes this unit’s integral IR illuminator and an extremely useful laser rangefinder. Being able to see the range to target displayed on-screen at the press of a button is a real asset, even when ratting over fairly close ranges, when applying correct hold-over and hold-under can make the difference between a clean kill and a clean miss. 

The RF model of the Pard DS35 has an integral IR illuminator and a very useful laser rangefinder. 
It’s only a simple feature but the throw-lever on the Pard’s focusing dial makes for slick operation. 


This isn’t an out and out review article, so I don’t want to dwell too much on the equipment, but I will give you a quick overview of the other features I really liked about the Pard. Firstly, it is very easy to operate and feels familiar because it’s proportioned much like a normal telescopic sight. Image quality (full-colour by day and monochrome IR by night) is very good, and the sight picture also looks familiar because it is round rather than rectangular. The digital riflescope is packed with sophisticated tech, but I was also really impressed by one very simple feature – the throw lever on the main focusing wheel. This may not sound like much, but it brings a huge boost to ease of operation, ensuring fast, slick focusing, even in the dark and when wearing gloves). Other optics manufacturers please take note. 

Back to the business of dealing with feSTATIC TARGET ed-raiding rats, I was soon settled in and ready for action – and I didn’t have to wait long because a peckish rodent trundled into the grain store about ten minutes after I’d set up. The light was just starting to go, but I didn’t need to have the Pard on its night setting for this one. Making its way to the grain feast, the rat paused momentarily as it trundled along the edge of a wall. That brief hesitation proved costly – it presented me with a static target at just over 20m and I took it with a clean smack to the head. 

I had to wait longer for my next opportunity, and the darkness was really closing in by the time I shot rat number two. This one was close to the scrubby patch of cover the rodents were using as their approach to the barn and was a touch closer than the first. 

The atmosphere of a night on the farm is one of the things I love most about rat shooting. Cocooned in darkness and surrounded by the aroma of hay, I could hear the distant cries of hunting tawny owls and the closer grunts and snuffles of the cattle, which had been brought off the saturated fields and into their warm, dry winter quarters. Closer still, I could hear the scratching and squeaking of bickering rats, and it was a bit too close for comfort at times. 

One of many rats to pay the price for its nocturnal raid on the grain store. 


A thermal spotter has become a key item in my ratting arsenal over recent years. Like the fancy tripod and sophisticated digital optic, it is far from essential, but it doesn’t half make a difference. The remarkable ability to spot heat signatures makes it almost impossible to fail to notice rats when they venture out, especially if you have your spotter set on low magnification to give a really wide field of view. 

Observation through my spotter revealed a heck of a lot of activity amongst the undergrowth from which the second rat had emerged. Often, I could only see glimpses of rats as they scuttled back and forth amongst the cover, but these sightings enabled me to switch over to the Pard in readiness for their emergence from the sanctuary of the leaves and stems. 

I had shot 14 rats in and around that patch of cover by the time I decided to call it a night. With 12 more accounted for in the grain store and by the feed sacks, it proved to be a very worthwhile session, although there are still a lot more rodents to deal with. As I said at the outset, traditional night shooting gear and tactics still work as well as they ever did, but I am convinced that the hi-tech approach helped me to build a bigger bag on this occasion. 


GUN: FX Dreamline Classic
SCOPE: Pard DS35 50RF Gen2
MOUNTS: SportsMatch Two-piece 
AMMO: QYS Domed 9.56-grain
TRIPOD: BOG DeathGrip Carbon Tripod 
SPOTTER: Zeiss DTI 3/25