Now that the pheasants are out, I need to be constantly vigilant. My pen is far from being fox proof, so a scattering of snares and traps add some weight to the defences. I have been meaning to get hold of a vermin gun for some time, if only to save my smart game guns from the daily abuse that is part and parcel of gamekeeping. I don’t own any particularly expensive guns, but they have some sentimental value and both are over sixty years old. They could do without getting soaking wet on a daily basis, or being covered in mud or having their woodwork dented on stones or wire. Far better to have a rough and ready workhorse which can stand any amount of abuse and still come out on top.
Enter a Savage pump action 12 bore. The gun belonged to a friend who had recently bought a better semi-auto, so having borrowed it in the past, it seemed like a perfect option. The 3″ chamber had allowed me to pick off a pinkfoot goose in January this year, and being impressed by its reliability and the fact that it fits me perfectly, I couldn’t turn down the chance to buy it. No longer will I have to worry about my old BSA getting soaked through when I’m waiting for a crow to come into roost, and when I bump into a fox in the high heather, I’ll have the trusty old pump on my back.
As if to prove how useful an ugly but functional shotgun can be, I carried it onto the hill this afternoon during my daily tour of the traps. After a mile of wandering through the flooded moss, I came to a broken down dyke which leads halfway back towards the woodcock strip where the release pen is. It was a rotten day, and my glasses were misted with rain and condenstation so when I saw movement amongst the stones, I wasn’t sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me. It was a tiny flash of brown through the grey granite boulders, and it happened again just a few seconds later. I realised that I was dealing with a stoat, and on its first trip out, the shotgun was going to repay my investment. Squeaking through my lips, the stoat emerged from the boulders and stared at me at a distance of twenty feet.
Unfortunately for him, I had loaded the savage with 50g of No.3s (one of Lyalvale’s Max Game Magnums) – a concoction designed to drop a fox at more than forty yards. The poor little blighter never knew what hit him. On the first day out with the new “stoat gun”, I can see that we are going to have a fruitful partnership together, although in future, perhaps I don’t need to be so extravagant with my cartridge loads.