Christmas comes early!
Roy tries out some new toys and is very impressed. Now it’s just a matter of finding the time to play with them…
With the weeks ticking by we seem to have had near-continuous rain, with only the odd field being cut early for hay. We’re left with forests of crop on what would normally now be prime fox-shooting territory, leaving me frustrated and also pitying the keepers that already have birds going to wood.
Only a few days ago I was told a sad tale of a pen of 800 birds wiped out almost completely overnight, with the only living creatures left in the pen the next morning being the five cubs that had caused the carnage. This catastrophe may have been caused by the cubs being able to get past the electric fence and enter the pen somehow, but I think it is more likely that the cubs were in an earth within the pen before the birds were even introduced. Either way, it clearly shows we have a lot of work ahead of us to get on top of this year’s foxes as soon as the harvest is over.
With my evenings not being spent in pursuit of Mr Reynard, I have invested my time into researching a couple of products that will definitely make catching up with lost time easier.
The first is a handled torch from a company called TacLight. I was originally tipped off about its Night Master 800 torch by a keeper friend who phoned me after the first night he had used it. He was just like a kid, brimming with excitement over the most amazing toy he had received for Christmas. He explained that not only was it just as powerful as a conventional plug-in lamp, but being a handheld torch cut down drastically on the weight and cumbersome foxing apparel that we normally all lug about when foxing on foot. After hearing my friend bang on so much I decided to contact Tony at TacLight and he sent me one so that I could see for myself what all the hype was about. With the prompt arrival in the post I was a little shocked when I opened the package to find a relatively small, ordinary looking torch. That was, until I removed it from the packaging and started playing with it.
Not only is the torch well constructed and robust, but it comes with a well-thought-out range of features, including three light intensity modes, that are easily selectable by pressing the luminous green switch on the back of the torch. It also has three interchangeable LEDs in red, green and yellow that can be easily fitted with the advantage of giving you maximum intensity as the light is not being diffused by a filter, as in a conventional lamp.
The other impressive feature is that it is powered by a single 18650 rechargeable battery, which gives the user four to five hours on average for lamping or two hours’ continuous use.
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Waiting anxiously for it to get dark, the sun had hardly set when a couple of friends and I popped out with the torch to see what we could achieve. I wanted to do a direct comparison between a conventional lamp and the Dereelight Night Master. The first set of eyes that we illuminated belonged to a fallow doe that we ranged at just over 500 yards. Switching the torch on and turning the lamp off, initially I did not think we would get the same result, as the light emitted from the torch does not illuminate the whole area but gives a very tight beam. But sure enough, as soon as the light reached the eyes of the fallow doe we got a fantastic reflection from her glowing eyes, and looking through the binoculars you could clearly make out and identify her.
Leaving the doe to her business we drove into a field of freshly baled silage. Attaching the Night Master on top of my scope with the clamp that it arrived with, we started scanning the fields with the conventional lamp. With my friend lamping, he was given the instruction to switch the lamp off as soon as a set of eyes were highlighted.
After about half an hour we came across Charlie mousing in between the bales. As the lamp illuminated her position she immediately bolted for the hedge, some 200 yards to our right. With the lamp switched off I clicked the button on the back of the Night Master, pointing my rifle towards where I hoped she was heading, and luckily enough I was right in my assumption. With the square beam identifying the vixen just as she stopped before entering the hedge, there was no problem with the crosshairs finding their mark.
The interesting point from this first night’s outing was that the light emitted by the Night Master did not appear to disturb the animals as much as the conventional beam; although I think I will have to get out into the fields a little bit more with this nifty bit of kit to prove this point – if the harvest ever comes, that is!
The other bit of kit that I am looking forward to really putting through its paces over the next few weeks and that I have only had the opportunity to use a few times so far is a vehicle-mounted gun rest that fits onto either the driver’s or passenger’s door. For years now I have been looking for a reliable rest that would allow a large arc of fire from a seated position in the car, as normally I have had to rely on resting the rifle in between the wing mirror and the door, only giving me a very small arc of fire.
Not only does this shooting rest provide a very stable platform, hopefully improving my accuracy, but it also protects the vehicle from being scratched and damaged by the rifle rubbing up against the body work.
When I spoke to Colin from Vehicle Mounted Gun Rest about acquiring one of his rests he explained to me that each unit is purpose-built to your specific vehicle to ensure a perfect fit, and sure enough that is what he provided me with. The unit is made of a lightweight steel construction that allows full use of the door to which it is fitted, including full use of the window, which on the coming winter nights will be most appreciated.
It took me a while to fit the unit as I am not one for reading the instructions, but my other half is and she soon helped me fit it. Luckily the fitting does not require any tools, otherwise this would have stumped her!
Already I am seeing the benefits of using this bit of kit, as normally I would have to shunt the vehicle into an exact position for the shot, creating disturbance and requiring a much longer time to take the shot. With this system you can pivot around on the seat, taking the shot a lot faster.
With the sun now starting to shine during the days, hopefully it will not be long before we can crack on with our moonlit activities, giving me the opportunity to have a proper play with my new toys!
For more information on TacLight visit www.nightmaster.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01274 561856.
For more information on Vehicle Mounted Gun Rest visit www.shooting-systems.co.uk, email email@example.com or call 01732 462641.