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March 28, 2008

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More Nostalgia, and Rat Shooting

Continued from Dave's earlier post, On Dear Days Gone By ...

Shooting at a shooting gallery paled, however, when I went off to college and discovered the joys of shooting rats in a dump. A few miles from campus was an old-fashioned country dump, out in the middle of nowhere, that was the preferred habitat of Rattus norvegicus, the common brown rat.

This remarkable mammal actually evolved in northern Asia. It is prolific (a fertile lady rat can produce 90 ratlets a year), able to live anywhere, and eat anything. Rats are the only animals aside from man and a few primates to possess metacognition; i.e., the ability to think about thinking. This gives them an astounding learning curve and explains why the little bastards always seem to be a couple of steps ahead of us.

My brother and I would take our chosen rat rifles (I used a Remington Nylon Model 66) to the dump and have at it. In addition to the many funky smells available, there was no end of targets, either rodent or inanimate. If you saw something that looked like it needed a bullet, you gave it a bullet. No one cared. And if you heard the unforgettable bwooooo that a ricocheting .22 makes at it howls past your head, so what? We were at the Age of Indestructibility.

Now this is no more. All dumps are sanitary, and even if they weren't you couldn't shoot in them. I've gotten most forms of hunting pretty well out of my system. But if I had the chance to go rat shooting one more time I would grab my .22, a brick of ammo, put on a pair of shoes I no longer cared about, and have at it.


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Steve C

Mine was shooting hermit crabs on the mud flats of salt marshes at low tide. Even misses were a spectacular display of airborne mud.

I shot an old Winchester auto using those old, cheap, greasy Chanuk(?) .22 shells. The gun got so gummed up it went full auto on me one day. Emptied the tube of 11 shells in less than a seconds. Look like a minigun hit the mud. Lots of dead crabs.

Dave in St Pete

Used to go to a pig farm (talk about smells!) and they had an old dump off to one side - full of rats.

I used a Stevens Favorite (single shot), my brother used a Stevens/Springfield Model 84C- (had a 10 round mag). Still have both of those guns.


Dave - Dad was an armorer at Camp Lejuene between Korea and Vietnam and has fond memories of trying out his "handiwork" on the local rat population. Guess those days are long past too.


What do you think happened to all the rats? They must of went somewhere!
As much fun as it was, the best part of those dumps was taking girls thre after dark to "watch the bears".

Despite your lewd thoughts, we always saw bears.

Old Bull

There was a grain mill (inside of the city limits!) in the town where I grew up. The owner paid me to shoot rats and pigeons. I used a Sheridan air rifle. I would ride my bike to town with the rifle slung across my back. Can you imagine the reaction today of a 11-12 year old kid downtown with a rifle? No one blinked an eye back then.
In high school, the owner of the local golf course let me ride around on a golf cart with a .22 and shoot woodchucks. The varmints had no fear of the carts, and I would drive up to about 20 yards of them and give them one upside the head.
Ah memories.....


One would think that anybody who knows how to use "metacognition" in a sentence would also know that ricocheting .22 bullets make a sound akin to "bee-yuuuuu", not "bwoooo."

But then again, we were shooting that proprietary Winchester 1903 stuff, so maybe that explains the difference. Took out our share of rats, and my grandma's old Maytag wringer washer made a heck of a stationary Commie to blast, too.

Them was good times; thanks for the reminder, Dave.



I feel sorry for you that you "...have gotten most forms of huning out of (your) system."

Personally, I only hope that only happens to me the day before I die. I couldn't imagine a world without hunting. It's one of the few times I really feel alive.

Jim in Mo.

In part 1 of this blog I mentioned buying my dad a 22 when I was 14. The first gun the salesman brought out was the Rem. 66. Wow, my young eyes bugged out.
Space age and everything to make a boy the envy of his peers. But I knew dad was traditional so I bought the walnut (or so it looked) rifle. Went away from that store wishing I had more money.

Mike Diehl

"Despite your lewd thoughts, we always saw bears."

I'll bet it was "barely possible." ;)


Hey Mike, it just seems so ludicrous to young folks now! I refer back to all the time I spent in the dump. Either was shooting rats or trying to entertain. They think I must of been a hobo or something.


I spent some time @ the local dump, but there was also a swamp fairly close to the local Junior High that provided plenty of targets as well.

One day a kid fell in and emerged covered in leaches. Scared the s*hit out of him. I practically peed my pants laughing.

35 years later that memory still brings a smile to my face.



I meant "leeches". Sorry for the error.


I grew up listening to my dad tell stories about shooting rats at a dump in Northern Michigan when he was a youngster. I'm young enough that I never got to enjoy open dumps, but had a heck of a time shooting rats in my girlfriend's (now my wife)chicken coop. her brothers and I would sit on 5-gallon buckets with the lights off and let things settle down. The rats wold come out from everywhere, above under, next to you and then we would flick on our flashlights and let them have it with CCI .22 shotshells. Man what a blast! I now live in Omaha and these city folks cringe at the thought....

WA Mtnhunter


We used to go to the local landfill (aka dump) and pound the little [email protected]$tard$ with a Winchester single shot .22 and Stevens .22 LR bolt action. Used to even set the edges on fire once in a while to get them moving when the action got slow.

My wife chewed my butt last week for sniping a rat out of the chicken yard from the back deck. Forgot to pick up my empty from the dining room floor. Damn 10/22 ejector kicks them too far! Busted!


My rat story doesn't involve a dump, but it is funny and instructive nonetheless.

My family owns a small farm that we hunt on, and up until last year we used the old farmhouse (circa 1880), as our camp. Needless to say, this old house, which set empty the rest of the year, had its' share of rats and mice.

We typically have several cousins, whom we cannot seem to rid ourselves of, show up on the Sunday before rifle season. I am sure everyone has these types of relatives. You know, the ones who show up at camp in a brand new pickup, with a brand new gun, and the entire Cabelas catalog in tow.

Well the year before last one of these cousins braggs all day about the new Glock 10mm he has strapped to his side. He also proceeded to drink an unnaturally large quantity of bourbon throughout the day.

About two o'clock in the morning some of the guys were still up playing poker when I hear a rucus unlike anything I have ever heard before. Apparently a rat of epic proportions meandered through the middle of the poker game. The next thing I know, I hear extremely drunk cousin scream, "out of the way, I'll get him." About a milisecond later I realize what he is about to do. I roll out of bed in my underwear and jump down a flight of stairs just in time to scream NO NO NO You Dumb ###.

Luckily that was the end of the situation. It could have gotten ugly really fast. I mean a 10mm is not exactly the best rat gun, especially inside a house.


No, the poor little defenseless rats. How cruel and bad you are to shoot them, they are such amazing animals, so smart, so full of life, what have they ever done to people (besides bubonic plague)? ;)


Grew up on a hog farm, when hogs dies, dad took them out back by the woods. Brother and I would get the .22 shoot at the crows, coons and possums. We always hoped a coyote would come along, never did but a boy can dream.


My rat shooting was best done in our corn crib on the farm. My cousin and I would share a Winchester 190 .22 (talk about a bad trigger pull) I still have the gun. One of us would roust about in the ears of corn while the other took a "stand" in the rafters. It was fast and sporty gunning for two ten year olds!

My second favotite rat shooting venue was the office building I worked in after I graduated from college. An old county hospital building, the basement of which was open to the city sewer system. I frequently worked evenings to catch up on grunt work. After things quited down the rats would come out to forage around in the building. A pellet pistol in the desk drawer proved to be quite a stress reliver!!!


Those things taste terrible. Later I learned to gut them first before cooking 'em

Used to shoot them out of a county park that was next to a ranchers coral. Imagine shooting rats in a park.

John R

My dad worked for the Village of H******** and was a vehicle mainrenance foreman. Some of his buddies and quite a few LE Officers wouls work on the sat population in the landfill by the garage. It was (and still is) ilegal to discharge a rifle on Long Island, but the LEO's told my dad if he wanted to take us kids at night to shoot rats, no one would bother us. So if I did my chores and schoolwork we would go to the dump after dark. My dad bought a Sears J.C. Higgins bolt action .22 (made bt Marlin) with a full size walnut stock and a 7 shot clip. We taped a plastic 3 cell flashlight under the barrel so we could aim. I would have never thought that rats were so hard to kill. I was 9 years old when we started going, and I still have the rifle. It is a wonderful memory, enhanced by the fact that dad let me do most of the shooting.

John R

Geez, sorry about the misspellings; I was in a hurry.

Clay Cooper

Grew up with the Remington Nylon Model 66 and what a rifle it is! Not worth a damn with a scope because of the free floating barrel, but with the open sights? A REAL TACK DRIVER! My Remington Nylon Model 66 is my #1 choice for squirrel hunting and talk about a reach out and busting coyotes out to 250 yards and getting into a firefight with multiple critters at once! The bottom of the white squire dot on the front sight putts you practically dead on around 200 yards!
Remington Nylon Model 66 AKA: Buck Rogers Ray Gun!

Dr. Ralph

I have killed one rat and it is the only rat I ever laid eyes on. RWS pellet gun when I lived in downtown Nashville. It lived under a storage shed in my backyard and would venture close to the house to eat my dog's food right out of the bowl... big as a small cat! When I hit him he actually squealed like a baby.

Amazing thing about rats is how intelligent they really are. When you look at brain mass vs. body mass elephants, dolphins, humans and apes top the list but the lowly rattus when put to the test outperforms nearly every animal.


My 14 year old son figured out last summer that striped ground squirrels (I have always called them chipmunks) would stick their heads up when a vehicle passed to see what was going on. Since these hungry little rodents can be devastating to rows of corn planted next to the road, I figured they were fair game. Running just up and down our driveway in the pickup eliminated several of the little boogers, including some that would stick their heads up to see what the shooting was. Have to admit that we were more successful with my grandpa's single shot .410 than the .22, but you do what you have to do.

Jim in Mo.

As you may have read I drooled over the 66 as a boy. It looked like the perverbial ray gun to me.
I've always heard they shot like they looked but please explain the scope versus free floating barrel and why it wasn't a good combination.

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