Vermin

Lamping Kit

The "Interceptor" and the Nordik Crying Bird - a match made in heaven
The “Interceptor” and the Nordik Crying Bird – a match made in heaven

It’s not often that I find myself trying to “review” products on this blog, and on the whole I tend to avoid that kind of thing – But I can’t resist posting to include some mention of two pieces of kit which led to the satisfactory undoing of one of the Chayne’s biggest and ugliest dog foxes last night beneath the stars.

Interceptor Gun Lite 1

I make no secret of the fact that I have been working for and with Solway Feeders Ltd for the past four years, and over the years quite a lot of kit has passed through my hands for testing purposes, from collapsible pheasant pop-holes to plastic hoppers, traps and incubation equipment. However, perhaps the jewel in the crown of my tester samples has been the Interceptor Gun Lite 1, manufactured by good old Cluson. At almost £200, this torch is not cheap, but in terms of LED technology and Ni-MH batteries, it is the bee’s knees.

The light weighs almost nothing, and there are no cables or wires connecting the bulb with some bulky, awkward 12v battery in your pocket. I am used to dealing with the good old fashioned Cluson Clubman which gave me the strapping shoulders I have today, as well as the Deben Tracer Max (which saw me through from 16 to 22) and the good (but never outstanding) Lightforce 170, which has now been made obsolete by some of the amazing new Deben copies. All of these lights required an additional battery pack, and although one of my packs was fitted with a dimmer (which was moderately useful), my experience of torches to date has always been of lugging heavy containers of acid around a hill that is unforgiving in the daylight, let alone in the dark.

This is where the Interceptor comes into its own – fantastically lightweight and simple to use as a hand-held lamping torch or as a gun light, the only real downside I can see is that, as is usual with Cluson, the gun mount is terrible. The ball and socket joint is too flimsy to use with anything heavier than a .22 centrefire round, and when I used to use an LA1 with the same mount on my .243, I was never able to tighten it enough so that the recoil of the shot didn’t bump the light, sending it totally skew-whiff at the crucial moment. Why Cluson can’t use the simple “up/down” adjustor which Lightforce use, I have no idea.

The Interceptor light is staggeringly bright, with that customary LED blue/white glow, although perhaps the beam is a little too focused for open hill scanning. I always used to rely on the huge spread of a Lightforce to flood the area and pick up eyes in the periphery, even when you aren’t looking directly at them, and I suppose that while the concentrated area of the beam is very tight, this is still possible to some extent. I was given my Interceptor at Christmas 2012, and I used it for a few days until I lost the charger and it has lain in its box ever since, with most of my lamping in the meantime undertaken with a Clulite LA2 from the car. Suffice it to say that I found a charger yesterday, and the story now finds us lurking beneath a phenomenal spread of stars on the hill at ten to midnight last night, with the Interceptor mounted on the .222, bringing us to the 2nd review of the post…

Nordik Crying Bird

Local stalker and blogger Brent Norbury is often posting about products which he comes across, and I was interested to see his mention of a Scandinavian fox squeaker called a Nordik Crying Bird. After a bit of research and an exchange of emails, I received my Crying Bird in January. It is essentially a very high pitched wigeon whistle mounted in a long plastic “mallard” style container. I was keen on the Crying Bird because it seemed to imitate a very unhappy lark or pipit, which to my mind is a great deal more relevant to the foxes on the Chayne, to whom the sound of a squeaking rabbit is anathema.

Sitting out on the moss with the stars bunched in patterns overhead, I gave the Crying Bird its inaugural blow and immediately struggled to control the wavering pitch of the call. It obviously takes some practice, but after thirty seconds I felt that I had mastered the basics. Scanning around, a pair of eyes had appeared three hundred yards away on a low horizon. I lay down, unfolded the bipod and continued to blow. Sure enough, the green eyes came sprinting closer, circling slightly downwind in order to pick up my scent. I extended the bipod legs and got comfortable in the darkness, knowing that the eyes were getting nearer with every cloudy puff of breath. Turning the light on again, I saw that the eyes had stopped at one hundred and twenty yards.

Now I found a new bottle-neck in my equipment – anyone who has had a go with my rifle is appalled by the quality of my Redfield ‘scope, which actually seems to make broad daylight darker. Equipped with a German Reticle, it is great for shooting foxes on the run, but effectively hopeless for everything else. I can hardly complain, since I bought it from a friend for £30 after he found it in a drawer and didn’t know what to do with it. Squinting through the ‘scope, all I could see were those two green eyes and the faintest, most indistinct silhouette imaginable behind them. The fox looked right, then looked back at me. It was losing interest. I pulled the tip of the vertical post down into the thickest part of the shadow and squeezed the trigger. A reverberating thump indicated that I had found the mark, but even a few feet further away and I would have been too far to risk it. At that sort of range I should have been able to pick my spot, rather than bring out beads of sweat on my forehead with a well-informed guesstimate.

Next on my shopping list has to be a better ‘scope (as several readers of this blog have remarked with passion), but equipped with the Interceptor and the Crying Bird, I think I might be able to do some damage this Spring, just when it is needed most as the curlews return and the blackgame prepare to breed. I realise in retrospect that this post looks very nerdy on its torches, but Solway Feeders sells such a wide range of different lamps that learning the detail was necessary – as a piece of shameless promotion, there is some other good stuff on the website too – solwayfeeders.com

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