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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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Jim in Mo.

Believe every word you say about the size of that rat. If I can bore you with a first witness true story that doesn't involve firearms; About 20 yrs.ago at my old work Ford Mtr.Co. St.Louis, my co-worker and I were standing on the loading dock. Me on top, Jerry about 5 ft. below on the ground by the rail lines. About 30yds. away out comes a rat and it was a huge rat (the rats ate good from guys throwing left over lunch down into the assembly lines), at least 18" body lenght and fat. Jerry says watch this, and he picks up one of those big rocks that the railroad lays along the tracks. And he hits the damn thing! We laugh and look for a dead rat. That SOB was charging right down the line at him! Jerry does a high jump to make an Olympian proud up to my level and the rat kept jumping trying to get at him.
True story I swear on my father's grave.


When I was dating my wife 49 years ago that was one of my dates...going rat hunting. We used a Colt Challenger and a Colt Frontier Scout .22's. That was some fun times.

Trae B.

I shot a mouse with a pellet rifle that was running on our fire-place in the house.
Deddy thought it was funny ma got prety pissed for shootin a mouse in the house.

Trae B.

I ment pretty not prety

Del in KS


Are you sure that wasn't a Groundhog? Just kidding. When I was on a firebase in 'Nam there was rats all over the place. I slept in a hammock stung between 2 posts inside a bunker. Had a big rat jump on my head in the dark. Don't know which one of us was scared the worst. Tried shooting them with M16 but too much gun.


Back in the good ole sixties we used a Nylon 66 and a Ruger 10/22 with considerable effectiveness on rats at the local dump much as Dave described. Additionally, and I would never do this today and have not for decades, we shot turtles in the nearby creek. At that time there were thousands of them. Sometimes we would see 6-10 which had climbed up on top of each other in sort of a triangle configuration on a log. We considered it great sport to pop them off the log into the water. Now you rarely see a turtle on that same creek even though I visit it only about every 5 or 6 years. Upon inquiry I was told by the county agent that decades of pesticides and herbicides from the surrounding crop fields washed into the waterway and killed them off along with the frogs and most snakes. Apparently the chemicals used today are more environmentally friendly but the farmers complain of their lack of effectiveness in controlling crop pests and weeds. Some things about this century I just don't like.


Ah, the days of my youth shooting rats on an old manure pile!the deal was if we spent the morning shooting rats we could fish on the pond in the afternoon! Imagine that today, "Sorry son, you didn't kill enough rats, you cant go fishing!" that's about ten charges against you now. That's why I'm out here in gopher land, still respectable to shoot them.


JiminMo; Clay has probably gone deer hunting, so I'll tell you about my own experience with a 66. It shot so well with the iron sights, I decided to reward it with a scope, so it would shoot even better. I baught a 1" Tasco and asked the dealer to give me one that was paralax adjusted for 50yds. for a .22. No problem, he said. I installed the scope, and sighted it in, and sighted it in, and sighted it in again, and it shot all over the paper. I took the scope back, and the dealer asked what rifle I put it on, then he showed me how the barrel was attached to the reciever. That one screw that holds the stock to the rifle goes into a wedge shaped block on the bottom of the barrel and clamps the barrel, and it flops around, thus making it very hard to use with a scope.
You see, the iron sights are attached to the barrel, and you don't have to worry about the reciever, but the scope, being attached to the reciever isn't nessisarily looking where the barrel is pointed. Most of the 66s and 11s can be used with a scope, if you tighten that stock screw very tight and then sight it in, but you will have to have a lot of adjustment in your scope.
The 66s and 11s were made that way so you could remove them from the stock, because the stock surounds the barrel. You just remove the screw, pull the barrel out, and lift the action out of the stock.


Grew up in the city but have never shot rats.

I did however shoot tarantulas that lived 15 feet up on the ridge pole of the thatched roof of our hut when I lived in the Panamanian jungle. We had a single shot combo, .22 / 12 gauge, over and under (Savage maybe?) We had to pick them off when they crept out to catch insects...

All things considered I guess it was about as exciting as cow tipping.

John Grunwald

I never shot rats but we had a creek with a shallow spot in it. Carp would have to expose thier back when the crossed it. They were exposed for only a split second. There was no time to aim. That is when I was a "sharpshooter". Pull and shoot no time to aim. I eventualy became accurate enough that is was no longer any challenge to use a rifle. Besides I had wore it out. It is fully automatic and dangerous now. But my Dad had 2 H&R 22 revolvers. I wore one of them out shooting right handed and became a tolerable shot left handed. I would spend all I made on ammo and shoot about 1,000 rounds a week. I will never be that good again. Heck, I even put a scope on my new deerslayer shotgun.

Clay Cooper

Jim in Mo.
First of all (LOL), the rear sight isn’t attached to the barrel. The barrel is held in place by a barrel bracket that pulls it down in only one place. The sight is connected to the receiver cover assembly, not the receiver at all. The rear sight is positioned exactly over the rear end of the barrel that aligns the bore with the front sight giving it true alignment of bullet impact of the free floating barrel. Yes you can tighten the hell out of the barrel bracket or holding band whichever you want to call it, but after a couple of good raps and bumps, the scope will be off. Besides, after you get intament with your Nylon 66, you will not like a scope. The Nylon 66 is for fast and furious shooting that even a master will appreciate. It’s light, it’s extremely quick to handle and deadly accurate on the fastest critters. I remember a picture of a shooter setting on a giant pile of 2x2 wooden blocks that was thrown into the air like trap and skeet, shot without a single miss! The bottom line, “If you are a serious shooter such as myself demanding the best, you cannot go wrong buying the Nylon 66 as long you understand that using a scope is not a true option”!!
This is the link of parts break down for Remington Nylon 66

Clay Cooper

You wouldn’t mount a scope on a skeet gun then why would you mount a scope on a rifle on fast moving small targets?


My first job out of the Marine Corps was doing security work. One of those companies that give you a tin badge, eight point hat and says go guard a truck terminal full of expensive merchandise unarmed in Port Newark NJ, needless to say SA did not go about it unarmed (statute of limitations long expired I can own up) had an eight shot mossberg 12 gauge in the car at all times, and usually had the 10-22 ruger as well. Plenty of rats fell to that ruger loaded with stingers, more than once Port Authority of NY/NJ cops would come around and join the party. Always made my rounds on time and never had a burglary. Some dip-stick with a .357Mag punched a hole in the Hyster propane tank one night and that was all she wrote on controling the rat population at that truck terminal. No the propane didn't explode in a giant TV fireball just hissed out for a good half hour scared the b'jesus out of all of us, boss was so pissed he figured the rats were a better choice than the guards. They put me in a new account upstate with good fishing right on the grounds but the firm admonishment to leave the gun home.

Clay Cooper

Yooper hit the nail on the head when he said I grew up shooting a deer rifle all the time explaining my extreme shooting skills. O’Yes, I remember those good ol’days, I do! At the age of 12 and carried a 03-A3 30-06 topped with a Weaver K-6 then a year later replaced by a Redfield Widefield 3x9 every place Dad and I would go 4 wheeling and varmint hunt or just shoot across canyons at small rocks pulverizing them into gravel. Dad was the President of the Davis Monthan Rod and Gun Club and did the supply runs to California bringing back truck loads of reloading supplies and other stuff for the Club Store. Today If DOT would see that, they would have a heart attack! Besides, what would you expect out of a bunch of good Ol’Boys out of the Military LOL, a truck load of daises! I was able to reload 30-06 almost as cheap as I can shoot a 22 Long Rifle. I remember those days I do, when the Coach would say, Mr. Cooper, ether participate in track and field, play ball or go with your Dad? My choice was clear and I don’t regret it to this day! C’Ya Coach!


It would be nice to have that kind of freedom. Thanks to the way kids are raised these days, without morals and what not, I think we will never have that kind of freedom again.


A .22 caliber rifle is insufficient for the two-legged rats in my hood...


Dave, Thanks for the memories. Used to shoot my rats at the dump in Grey, Maine. Would snipe an occasional rat during broad daylight, but at dusk, the enemy hoard(numbered in what seemed to be thousands) would have me out flanked and threaten to over run my position. Then the shooting would commence and we'd go at it furiously. I used an unscoped Winchester model 77 with a 7 shot clip. Got pretty good with it too. Damn near wore it out on rats. I still have the gun, but had to bring it to the Island Smith in North Hero, Vermont a few years ago; had it reblued to a nice non-glare matte finish and had some internal work done on its guts. I can't pick up that rifle now without thinking about the time I spent assassinating rats at the Grey Dump.


I grew up in the city. The butcher shop was located near our home. Attracted by his waste, rats frequently tried invade our home through the sewage pipes and roof vents. When succeded, our old fox terrier took good care about these not wellcomed visits. But one night we all woke up to my Mom scream that she saw a huge rat runing in a hallway. My oldest brother grabed 22 Hornet bolt action, chased him to the bathroom, closed the door and started shooting. He killed the rat, toilet seat, few tiles, and mirror. He was OK, but since this incident task of rat extremination was delegated to our dog.


Talk about bringing back a flood of memories. Anyone reading the comments and nodding their head(s) in silent amusement & understanding is showing his age. I have such fond memories of shooting rats in a couple of dumps close to my home in rural Massachusetts. And what great training for those more serious hunts later in life. The only game that came close to it was squirrel hunting - teaching the lessons of stealth, watching for the slightest movement and making the shot count. I could write a book on just rat shooting and the fun we had - and I too remember strolling through town with my 22 over my shoulder and most people never even glanced my way. Today ................ they would call out the local militia.

Tommy D

I remember shooting rats at night with my pal Larry, we had flashlights taped to the barrel.The dump was located in Berlin ,N.Y.and we where both about 15 years old. Too bad kids today will never know that fun!!

Dave Lamenzo  ("Paratrooper Dave")


Great story Dave; thanks !!

YooperJack's tail about going to the local dump on a date to watch the bears brought back memories for me.

Out here in New England we would take our sweet date to the edge of a pond/lake/stream/river/ocean (what ever was close) to watch the submarine races. Yes submarine races !! Sometimes during the races a torpedo would get launched too. Ahh, what fun.

It was absolutey great growing-up and being a teenager in the 1950's.

Paratrooper Dave


I evolved in New Jersey. At 1st dad didn't understand what good a rifle would be as they weren't legal to hunt anything but coons ... and 'who the hell would waste time hunting coons?' . I think dads point was if you don't eat it then don't hunt it ... coon steak just wasn't on his menu.

So I found my self ratting with my Fox Sterlingworth 28 inch 12ga double. A light easily taped under the barrels and it worked quite well terminating the moonlight stoll of many a rat.
Kinda eliminated the richocet problem too. Some may say the use of the scatter gun was unfair to the rats ? Well ... just one more reason I'll be warm in the hereafter. :-D

jim in nc

I never shot rats, but you just reminded me of a great vacation we took to Grand Marais in the summer of 1948, where we saw about 15 bears at one time at the dump. Taking dinner and going to watch them was the great local evening pastime.

Gerald Keller

We used to have "Submarine races" here on the Gulf coast of Florida too.Seems all our bears moved away when the New Yorkers and Michiganders moved in.Don't take offence,my Mom was from New York and my Dad from Michigan.Our pest control was shooting pigeons in the family owned factory with .22's loaded with shot.Every once in a while we would get to shoot a rat.My brother and I used to ride our bikes with our guns,or just walk a couple of blocks to hunt,and never had anyone question us or panic.A couple of years ago a JROTC member was walking home from school with his drill rifle and someone called in the SWAT team.How times have changed,and not for the better.


On a stinkin' hot, summer, wind-swept prairie day, the cool, dark interior of my grandfather's barn was my jungle to hunt for rats with .22 short mushrooms. Grandpa needed a bounty hunter, the payoff being more ammo for my shiny, new Mossberg 340K which appeared on my 12th birthday.
Effective head-trimmer for the gophers out on the savanna, too. Although 50 years have passed, I'd go back there in a second.

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