Everybody involved in shoots large or small knows just how important it is to keep vermin in check - and not just for the sake of game interests.
When predators are kept at manageable numbers wildlife benefits.
Yet, as living creatures, predators such as rats, foxes, stoats, crows and magpies deserve to be despatched humanely and swiftly.
So here’s a selection of cartridges for vermin that will do the job to perfection.
Express Super Game
Foxes are probably our most destructive enemy and for gamekeepers the battle goes on year in, year out.
A shotgun is effective at short ranges when called for.
If you can get close, then my recommendation is to go for a big load with big pellets and my favourite is Express Super Game firing a 42gm payload of No.1 shot.
BB’s will do just as well of course, but I favour the 1s because they are large enough to do the job at humane ranges and those extra pellets help fill the pattern too.
Unless you are going to get very close to the quarry you should avoid buckshot loads.
The big pellets are certainly lethal but there are too few of them in a cartridge to guarantee a clean kill at longer ranges – in fact it becomes something of a lottery as to whether you connect.
The Express Super Game works for me, but any equivalent load will do the job. It comes in a 70mm case so can be used in a standard 12-bore gun chambered for 2.3/4in cartridges. It costs £12.90 for a box of 25 or £115.50 for a case of 250.
» Wad: Plastic
» Powder: Vectan
» Muzzle Velocity: 1375fps
» Case length: 70mm (2.3/4in)
Gamebore Super Game
Carrion crows and magpies are deadly to chicks and great egg stealers.
Both birds build extremely strong nests and even with a heavy load you will need a few shots to destroy the nests and their contents.
The adults are persistent, so keep an eye out for nest repairs and rebuilds and keep going.
For a magpie, any 30 or 32gm load of No. 6 shot will be ideal.
Carrion crows will need a cartridge with a bit more whoomph. Gamebore’s Super Game High Bird in 5 shot being an ideal candidate. This 32 gm (1.1/8oz) load comes in fibre or plastic wad and costs £260 per thousand.
» Wad: Plastic or fibre
» Powder: Baschieri and Pellagri
» Muzzle Velocity: 1375fps
» Case length: 70mm (2 3/4in)
Inside barns and rearing sheds for nesting birds, rats are likely to be a problem.
Here I’d suggest the ideal solution is the Eley Hawk two-inch .410, which delivers a 9gm payload of No. 6 shot. Expect to pay a reasonable £219 per 1,000.
If noise is an issue when you’re involved in pest control then have a look at subsonic loads.
In 12-bore, the only one is Eley Hushpower in a 32gm fibre 6 shot at £289 for 1,000.
In 20-bore, the only one is a cracking load from Gamebore available in 30gm fibre 5 shot at £290 per 1,000.
All these are subsonic remember, so not only is there less noise but the added benefit of less recoil too.
Muzzle velocity in all cases is approx 1050 fps, just below the 1084fps speed of sound at sea level.
This article was originally published in March 2010