“Bob and I will illuminate the kill zone after we sneak around the corner, then just blast away,” Jim said. “They’re going to stream out the door pretty quickly. You’ll only have about eight seconds to fire.”
Eight seconds? That’s not much time to learn how to fire a pistol. Until then, I was picturing the classic video game Operation Wolf — targets would slowly move from left to right and we’d fire at our leisure while they flailed away. Eight seconds to fire off six shots? Our rat hunting trip was was going to be quick. Jim continued his lesson while we drove to the barn:
“It’s double-action, but you won’t hit anything if you use that. It’s too fast and you won’t be able to line up the sights.”
“The rat-shot sprays like a shotgun, so you don’t need to be dead-on, but this is close range, so you still need to be pretty accurate.”
“If you miss, you’ll just hit gravel or a board — it won’t matter. You won’t get near any of the pigs, and the rat-shot wouldn’t hurt them anyway. Well, maybe if you got in real close.”
Jim has a small pig pen and the rats invade it nightly. They eat the pigs’ feed and fatten up. Some nights, 20 will stream out. These regular hunting / pest control trips keep the rats scared and out of the pen. And it thins the population.
Up until the eight-second thing, I was gung-ho and ready to fire off a few shots at my long-time nemesis, the rat. I hate rats. They invaded our back courtyard in Chicago. They hung out in our dumpsters when we lived on Saint James. They creep me out. And now they were eating the pigs’ feed instead of letting the pigs turn it into bacon? Got to draw the line. Too much. But eight seconds?
“Jim, I’ve never shot a pistol before,” I said (and definitely not a .44 Magnum, I thought to myself). “And I’m not so sure my first shot should be at a target I’ve only got a second to hit.”
“Yeah, maybe I should be the shooter,” Jim agreed. So it was settled. Jim was the shooter, we’d sneak around the corner, illuminate the kill zone / doorway, and take care of these pesky rats.
And that’s pretty much how it happened. We snuck around the corner like ninjas after joking around and talking loudly and testing out the flashlights and loading the gun a few yards before we decided to start being stealthy. Rats were streaming out of the barn when we got around the corner — about 6-8 of them — and Bob and I illuminated them. Jim opened fired, fired five times, made us deaf, and we surveyed the damages.
“Well, one confirmed kill,” Jim said. He’d hit a big, fat one square. The rest, we decided, had limped into the brush to die slowly. “Real .44 ammo is a lot louder than that.”
One confirmed kill, no human casualties, and only temporary deafness — the trip was a success. We strategically retreated before the rats had a chance to regroup, reorganize, and overwhelm us.