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Hamster

Moorhen - pest control

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    I'm lucky enough to have had permission on a big acreage country house which incorporates a sideline business of free range as well as indoor eggs plus a few specialist birds for the table, even managed to weather a change of ownership and for 25+ years have been lucky enough to enjoy some of the best pigeon flighting and rabbit shooting to be had. The land has a very steep rise towards the woods at the far end meaning its possible to decide how high you want your shooting to be. The owners have always been happy for me to shoot anything and over the years I have had magpies, squirrels, pigeon, crows, rabbits, duck, partridge, pheasant and even fox but oddly enough never even seen a rat ! 

    A couple of weeks back I texted them to say I was on a larder mission (they always enjoy a few pigeon or the odd duck) and was told to shoot the coots and moorhen which were now at pest numbers and causing financial damage by eating the bird feed. Now up to then I had never even considered shooting one of these species but having arrived at the property it became obvious there were quite a few on the main pond but as I later found out these were nothing compared to the dozens that were freely pecking away among the free range chicken. 

    The far bank is exactly 92 yards from the fence and it soon became obvious that easy shots were not going to be the order of the day, I managed to head/neck shoot one dead with 4 mildot holdover but most of the rest of the eight killed that day came from the chicken run. Another text from the owner this week asking me to go back resulted in another four killed (plus a few sundries for the table of course) 😋 . I found that the best course of action was to use his raised office platform which overlooks the main problem area and make the odd quiet visit to the main pond in between. The distance to the near side of the small pond is about 35 yards with the nearest coop at 75 yards or so meaning the birds at the far end are pretty much free to do as they please especially as other properties close by all seem to have huge garden ponds and vegetation where they can quickly run and disappear into. 

    All fairly boring read so far except for two memorable shots, the first being another 92 yard kill at the exact same spot as last week but having to aim for the body as the bird wasn't willing to stand still on the water. The next which is by some considerable margin my longest kill came when I noticed two birds walking away from the pond heading towards the woods, I lined up to take a sighter shot by holding at least 2 feet above and saw the pellet strike below the bird so made the mental adjustment and killed it instantly with the next shot, it should be possible to see the entry hole just below the should blade on the bird closest to the rifle. I didn't have my range finder with me but the best guesstimation I can make using known distances of the reeds/single tree on the right and the wooden poles at the far end I would say it would have been between 130-150 yards. I don't recommend this kind of range with FAC air guns but this was a pest shooting request and I was fairly confident that I would be able to spot the pellet strike and had I wounded it there would have been as much chance of putting several more shots down or running to despatch it as there would have been of the others that I killed at half that range but which were often standing right next to dense cover and which I did in fact lose on one or two occasions. 

    ps. the picture of the pond shows the left hand side and the angle towards the long bird, the lengthways to the reeds at the far end is quite a bit to the right. 

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    Edited by Hamster

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    Some good work there. They push wild ducks away so worth controlling. In Africa I was using a hmr for the same purpose. A lot easier. Have you seen the recent Air arms SA on you tube with the long range pigeon control? Dialing in after  using a range finder. Very impressive.

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    Just now, oowee said:

    Some good work there. They push wild ducks away so worth controlling. In Africa I was using a hmr for the same purpose. A lot easier. Have you seen the recent Air arms SA on you tube with the long range pigeon control? Dialing in after  using a range finder. Very impressive.

    I watch them all :), love learning from people who do the business and push boundaries. 

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    we were shooting "the carrs" near here a few years ago...and an old buffer was standing on the bank of the drainage channel and the beaters were pushing thro'....and put some moorehen up ....hah ...they flew well an all............anyway he took a couple of overhead shots and dropped one........so the horn goes at the end of the drive...and i get duchess to pick up my birds and then i pick his up....she comes back with the moorehen....and the old buffer...fresh out of "the chambers" in the city says..."what the bloody hell was that i shot"

    quick as a flash i say to him...."oh dont you know Savoury  (the farmer) has introduced Mexican Partridge on a couple of drives".............he says..".bloody good fliers what"...."have to tell my collegues what you boys are doing in Norfolk now".........

    i can just imajine him in his gown and wig relating his story to the other QC's about his day in Norfolk shooting Mexican Partridge.........:lol:

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    Moorhens and coot are classed as waterfowl and have the same seasons and protection as duck etc. Including their nests and eggs

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    Do you have a license to shoot moorhens .because you need one .

    they are protected like all wild birds but need a license from government to shoot them 

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    3 hours ago, la bala said:

    Pan full of their eggs are good though.

    My grandfather would go steal them and put a pot egg in to fool the moorhen. We had a lot on our marshy ground back then ....al been drained now and turned into a wheat prairie.

    As said fried or scrambled they where good eating.

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    23 hours ago, Walker570 said:

    My grandfather would go steal them and put a pot egg in to fool the moorhen. We had a lot on our marshy ground back then ....al been drained now and turned into a wheat prairie.

    As said fried or scrambled they where good eating.

    We never bothered to shoot Moorhens as the eggs were better than eating the birds , the reed beds were a magnet to breeding pairs of Moorhens and we often took half a bucket of eggs home , if they were out of reach we put a spoon on the end of a long stick and lifted them off the nest one at a time , my old grand father used to recon they tasted better than his Bantam eggs.

    Coots were a different kettle of fish , before we had the 1962 / 63 winter a Coot was a bit of a rarity that only came on the estuary during hard weather when the Broads froze over , during that hard winter we had 100s come down to open water as all of the Broads were frozen over for weeks on end and when the hard conditions finally lifted a lot of the Coots stayed on the river and the marshes and are still about now in good numbers. 

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    My dad would relate stories of how he and his comrades would love to eat moorhen eggs fried or scrambled as it made a welcome change from the tinned pilchards in tomato sauce that they got as rations as the officers would scoff the choice items during his European tour in 1944. 

    Sorry I clicked the submit button too soon. I enjoyed reading your story and looking at the photos..... excellent shooting! Well done!

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    I have my rimfire conditioned for avian. Much easier to do the long shots without worrying about hold over. Yes, they certainly need thinning out as they are in plague proportions here too.

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    On 05/12/2018 at 12:54, timmytree said:

    One word of advice. Don't eat one.

    I’ve eaten them in the distant past. Found them ok roasted and served with apple sauce.

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    On 05/12/2018 at 11:33, ditchman said:

    we were shooting "the carrs" near here a few years ago...and an old buffer was standing on the bank of the drainage channel and the beaters were pushing thro'....and put some moorehen up ....hah ...they flew well an all............anyway he took a couple of overhead shots and dropped one........so the horn goes at the end of the drive...and i get duchess to pick up my birds and then i pick his up....she comes back with the moorehen....and the old buffer...fresh out of "the chambers" in the city says..."what the bloody hell was that i shot"

    quick as a flash i say to him...."oh dont you know Savoury  (the farmer) has introduced Mexican Partridge on a couple of drives".............he says..".bloody good fliers what"...."have to tell my collegues what you boys are doing in Norfolk now".........

    i can just imajine him in his gown and wig relating his story to the other QC's about his day in Norfolk shooting Mexican Partridge.........

    Love it ! lovely yarn Ditch.:lol::lol:  

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    On 06/12/2018 at 16:34, marsh man said:

    We never bothered to shoot Moorhens as the eggs were better than eating the birds , the reed beds were a magnet to breeding pairs of Moorhens and we often took half a bucket of eggs home , if they were out of reach we put a spoon on the end of a long stick and lifted them off the nest one at a time , my old grand father used to recon they tasted better than his Bantam eggs.

    Coots were a different kettle of fish , before we had the 1962 / 63 winter a Coot was a bit of a rarity that only came on the estuary during hard weather when the Broads froze over , during that hard winter we had 100s come down to open water as all of the Broads were frozen over for weeks on end and when the hard conditions finally lifted a lot of the Coots stayed on the river and the marshes and are still about now in good numbers. 

    I'm not quite old enough to remember the Norfolk Coot shoots are you MM?

    Here is an old memoir. Please click on the linky thing below:

    http://www.ludhamarchive.org.uk/coot.htm

     

     

    Edited by Whitebridges

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    16 minutes ago, ditchman said:

    you know the carrs im talking about ...or your mrs does ...at Hassingham..

    St. Mary, down Carr lane/Road?  Backing on to the Broad.

    Loads od "Carrs" in Norfolk i think. Alby Carrs is one i can think of.  A carr is something like a rough bit of marshland overgrown with willow and alder, or something similar.   

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    i will tell you a story when i see you next about a coot shoot i was on with Billy Bell at Fritton Decoy............now that is a good yarn and larf..

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