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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Shooting Rats

Here is a link to
I like to shoot rats.
In the old days, before I was a nervous wreck and sat around consuming old number seven and listening to Eddy Arnold on antique stereo equipment I used to enjoy setting out in the barn or chicken house with a flashlight and a .22 and picking off a few rats.
Once I made my own rat trap with a length of old gutter pipe and a 15 gallon steel oil drum. Rats cannot resist an inclined tunnel and will naturally climb it. I have no idea why, perhaps it was the promise of chicken feed at the other end. Strangely enough, they will also jump out of the end of the pipe even though it is quite the drop to the bottom of the barrel.
However, once you have a few rats in a barrel what do you do with them?
As this was 1979 and the world was a much better place to be a kid, I went to BiMart and picked up a few free empty 35mm film canisters, a pound of black powder, and some model rocket engine ignitors. The clerk didn't even blink when I bought them all at once. I packed the film canister with black powder and put the rocket engine ignitor in though a hole in the cap, then wrapped the whole thing with duct tape. It was pretty safe as far as homebuilt bombs go. No sharp chunks of metal to do flying and a wonderful loud explosion and lots and lots of smoke.
I used my electrical control box from my Estes model rocket kit to set off the explosive from a distance and sometimes borrowed my uncle's hard hat just to be safe. Safety is quite important. (irony-it was a home built BOMB!)
In this case I lowered the bomb into barrel of rats, hid behind an old pickup, touched it off. If I remember correctly it somewhat bulged out the drum, some of the rats disappeared, and the neighbor came to see if I was alright.
This means of rat disposal was promptly banned by the powers that were. Namely, my mother.
Being always the amateur scientist I did try to revive the remaining rat. I had recently discovered a trove of cow shocker probe parts and figured that if that rat had died from heart failure, he could be revived. I attached leads to the shocker and to the rat and powered up the shocker. There were twitches but strangely enough the rat did not jump up and thank me for saving his life.
I used that rat trap for a couple months but solved the problem of rat execution by putting a few gallons of water in the bottom of the barrel. Eventually the word got around and my nightly haul of rats dropped considerably and I went back to a flashlight and the twenty-two rifle.
I see my nephew has turned 13 and has been shooting rats with a pellet gun. There is so much information I could pass on to him but I suppose I should not. If I told him I doubt he would believe me anyway, plus, I don't really want a SWAT team at our house.
I wonder what it a takes to license a cannon?


  1. When I was a tad and had access to bulk fuse, strike anywhere Ohio blue tips, and a fruit jar full of large shiny kernels of blasting powder every day that dawned held a potential fourth of July adventure.

    Leave it to adults who don't know how to play nice to wreck everything.

  2. Your creativity and imagination never fail to amaze and amuse me. I would never have used such elaborate methods. Nowadays I rely on blue blocks of poison to maintain a "rat free" status on the farm. Back when we could legally buy firecrackers we had some fun dreaming up things to blow up with them. And yes, I still have all my fingers.

  3. You could just solve your rat problem the way one city in India did. They say that they taste just like squirrel!

  4. Yes, we did those things when we were kids. We would never ever even think about doing anything like that now that we are adults.
    They sell traps that electrocute rats, I wonder if the world is ready for one that blows up the rat, or mouse. Seems to me that very small pieces of mouse spread around would smell less that one large piece in a garbage can that doesn't get emptied very often.
    I wonder if the drum-trap idea would work for mice?

  5. The link goes nowhere.
    I think you meant to link to

    Somebody out there at has way too much time on his hands.

  6. I've caught mice in a drafty old farm house by using a variation on the theme. Rough lumber inclined from the floor to piece of wood shingle or other light wood set on the edge of a bucket with about 8 inches of water in it, shingle balanced to tip down into the bucket when a mouse goes for the bit of flour on the inboard end. Mouse falls in, shingle returns to level. Next?

    Bucket with a single thickness of newspaper on top also works. Paper slashed with X center, light dusting of flour. Same access ramp. Dump often, or it gets nasty in July weather.

  7. Fixed the link.
    I really think it is a shame there are no outlets for youthful energy. It is insanity. You have to wear a bike helmet, no explosives, no fist fights at school, no making fun of people, no success, no failure.
    I never thought I would see the day when I would have to defend all the annoying and painful things in life but how do you ever to deal with anything in life?
    If you can't deal with the bully you will always be a wimp. If you know what a bullet does to a rat you will be a lot more careful what you shoot. If your friend gets nailed by a truck you won't jaywalk. Just the simple facts of life.
    Now they put kids in jail for just being kids. Ain't that the very definition of child abuse and a police state.
    Otherwise, I have often wondered about the compulsion for rodents to walk up an inclined plane. Sort of like skinny white guys and meth...

  8. Now we will find that the DHS has added farmers to the list of terrorist suspects. Actually, rats are the only animal that I have ever wanted to shoot but I live in an area where just pulling a trigger can get you in jail.

    Grace and peace.

  9. Didn't know about rats wanting to walk on an inclined plane. I will be using this information!
    The year before last we had a infestation of rats in the grain/bale shed. They were living in the bales and eating the grain. It took two to move the bales out, Dad to move the bales with the tractor and me stood there with a .410 To shoot the ones that jomped out of the bales. We put a large sheet outside the shed so any that ran past me hid under the sheet and I got a second chance with them. At the end of two days we had a large drum full of rats and my ability to hit a moving target had improved! Good times

  10. Made similar bombs using match heads, tin cans, and estes rocket ignitors. We put numerous match heads in the can, crushed/wrapped it around itself to make a tight package. Poked a hole in the can, inserted ignitor(had to wrap with scotch tape so it didn't short on the can). We had an acreage so we were well out in the bush where mom couldn't catch on. We managed to set off two before a piece of exploding can sliced my buddy's forehead for 10 stitches. Told a few lies before the parents figured out the truth and put an end to our explosives testing.


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