Pride and joy, the Hatsan AT44-10

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So I have gotten over my over emotional thoughts on being judged, for going out to hunt and on to a few words about my pride and joy, my Hatsan rifle.

Seeing it, I feel a bit of a cheat. And later after using it for the first time in my back garden I will feel even more of a cheat. For I have not earned my air rifle stripes, (or pips), I haven’t gone through the budget stage, or the springer stage, not that a springer has to be on a budget! But apparently hunting with a springer is more artful, more of a challenge. You learn about your art.

I was dazzled by the promises of an easy kill, all I had to do, have to do, is put myself in the correct place, the correct range and pull the trigger. I am sure there will be more to it than that. Time will see.

So yes, I cheated and jumped at the PCP. Now it would be very easy just to copy the blurb from Hatsan, a Turkish gun maker, or from the uk importer, Edgar Brothers, and repeat the information they give about this killing machine, (artistic license dear reader). But I shall write from the point of view of an excited over grown schoolboy with his first air rifle.

So to vulgar statistics out of the way. My local gun shop sold me the rifle, a Hatsan AT44-10 with a silencer and a scope, for £350. I can’t tell you the manufacturer of the silencer but I can tell you it looks nice, feels heavy and well made and will do the job. Although I’m sure the rabbits ears are much more sensitive than mine.

The scope is brand new, but an old model. Which matters to me not. It’s made by MTC and is the Cobra model, and comes with the proper mounts. Even as a complete novice I manage to attach it to the rifle no problems. It has a 3-9 zoom and a front 42AO lens.

It looks the part! But did have no instructions, so I resign myself to again trawling the internet for information to make sure everything is in focus and the right amount of distance from my eye. I emailed the UK office of MTC and they were a delight to be in contact with.

I do however need a bipod I’m told. And I agree as the Hatsan is not the lightest of things. But I am on a budget, as ever, (which is still alien to me, as up till last year what I wanted I got). I can’t afford anything in the shop. So as many buyers before me I head home to amazon, the saviour of everything thrifty. I decided on a very reasonable priced bipod from CvLife-UK, they appear to offer a great selection of items for sale for the on a budget hunter. The bipod sets me under £20 and though the delivery is a little late, the seller and their customer service was top class, sympathetic, and sorted me out to full satisfaction. I shall be using them again no doubt. One thing I have learned as a client and one that has clients, once a relationship in any business is built in trust, it’s a good idea to stick with them.

The bipod doesn’t quite have the correct attachment, not the bipod’s fault as it comes with 3 types, but my ignorance. It is not a problem and after screwing it home, it looks very much AT home. It’s fully adjustable, tilts and swivels. I feel the odds are beginning to stack in my favour.

A false sense of superiority?

The Hatsan AT44-10 itself looks a peach. The stock is black. I’m glad I didn’t go for the wood version, and with all the accessories black it looks the business. Odd bits here and there are gold and stand out. I haven’t fired it yet so I can’t give a full review, this is just a glimpse.

But so far, so very good……..

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Best plans and all that…….

It’s late.

Something troubles me.

Is my journey going to judged by others, and maybe myself, as pure, calculated bloodlust?

So I had planned of giving you a quick over view of my new rifle. However I watched on TV tonight a programme that has me troubled. Troubled me deeply.

This blog was started after being inspired by someone else’s story. It inspired me to write it down, so I could remember the journey as well as sharing that journey, if it pleased others and you dear reader, to be pleased by them too.

I never once doubted the reasons for the content of the story I read. The story of Rabbit Stew, (the blog’s name). I never doubted that what I read or what I had in mind was trophy hunting. Doing it for the kill. The pleasure of taking an animals life. You may or may not of heard of hunters using the phrase a humane kill. But a humane kill is uppermost in the mind of the hunter. The kill is not to cause pain or distress or to enjoy the suffering of a rabbit, pheasant etc. Or even the rat. Taking several shots to kill, to torment, to know it has struggled away to endure a slow death. A humane kill is one that takes one shot. Usually to the head, to ensure the most humane way of dispatching the quarry. In a nano second.

Am I trying to justify a way of life for many? Was I trying to justify myself? No doubt there will be some discussion about that.

For farmers here in Britain the rabbit is not a cute pet bought for a child to learn the values of looking after something living. A rabbit, much like a rat to you and me, is a pest. Vermin.

It causes hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage, year in, year out to crops. Livestock die in agony after injuring themselves in damage caused by the rabbit. Not one quick painless shot, but hours of misery.

I’m not kidding myself. The farmers problems are not the main consideration in my uptake of this activity, but it is, nonetheless a fact. What ever I kill, I will kill with the least amount of suffering, and anything I do will go home for the pot. Just like things you buy every day at the supermarket. Beef, chicken, turkey etc. The only difference is that the food from there is covered in wrap.

What is also a fact dear reader, is that I’m an educated man. Educated at the highest level two or three times over. Graduated from the Military Academy Sandhurst as a 2nd Lieutenant, over twenty years ago, and have on more than one occasion put my life on the line for my country. Without a second thought, doing my duty. I am and have never been after bloodlust.

Or for the taking the life of an animal unnecessarily. In pain. With no dignity, just for the sake of it.

Have I won you over dear reader?

Have I won myself over?

Thanks for reading. Till next time.

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Weapon of choice, or the difficult second album (AKA blog).

The first blog is easy. You have an idea, wether well thought through or of the moment inspiration. You explain to the reader your reasons of wasting a moment or two of their lives, to read the ramblings of a total stranger. Hoping beyond all hope that they read something interesting, are promised something of greater revelation, and that you the reader is persuaded that more enjoyable or even greater things are to come. Or maybe just something to bring a glimmer of a smile that makes it a fleeting worthwhile read, or at the very least it will fill a gap in time. The second installment has to build on the easier first.

So on to my difficult second album! What lead me to the idea that leading up to winter, the one thing that would get me through it, would be to purchase my weapon of choice, which I can’t afford, and go spend hours in the cold that winter brings, and will uncompromisingly seep that cold into my bones in the vague hope of pitching my inward perfect hunting skills against a foe which will bring dinner to the table. The skills I firmly believe will outwit a rabbit. For I am a human, a soldier, a hunter and higher on the food chain. Of course these skills that I am certain I possess, have never been tested. Yet.

The internet is awash with experts at every turn, ready to impart their opinions to the avid seeker of fact, or even truth. So it was I trawled for hours, maybe even days, reading miles upon miles of self called expert’s advice. I gave myself a budget. But in all honesty, anything more than a price of a happy meal would be too much, (this is in fact dear reader the first time I have admitted this to my self). I thought anything around £150-£200 ought be enough to be able to kill a rabbit for my dinner.

Will it be a springer? Break barrel? Under lever? To PCP or not to PCP? Single shot or magazine? Lee Enfield or GPMG? All terms that I am learning, all terms that alluded to pros and no cons to get the ‘job done’.

One thing was for certain, if I didn’t want my prey to laugh at me, I would need power. It was then that everything I looked at was the upper end of and close to the legal 12 foot pound of energy, just under mind you. Because if you have ever read a British forum on anything air rifle, the one thing guaranteed to upset plod and send you to prison for 5 years, is a middle aged man freezing his proverbials off in a field, in winter, trying to earn his pips, is an over powered air rifle.

So I settled on a very nice springer, factored in a scope. Decided that punch was better and chose .22, (remember this is not a debate on which calibre is best for hunting, you the reader can make up your own mind).

Then I had a thought. What harm would it cause if I pretended for a moment that I could stretch the budget another hundred pounds, (that remember, dear reader, a budget I could not afford in the first place)?

A very nice co2 model, lots of power. And a magazine which meant I wouldn’t frighten off my kill’s best mate, by loudly cocking my weapon for the next shot.

Well maybe, just maybe, I could use that, ‘only for emergencies’ credit card, and stretch the budget. It was after all, going to put dinner on my sparse table.

And now the inevitable re-reading of review sites to ‘help’ me decide. But before that, I become distracted, because I am a curious soul, I read up on PCP’s. Now, THIS promised, zero recoil, zero hassle and a much sort after, no quibble 100% certainty, that no bunnie could survive these machines. Especially with my self assured skills that had been acquired through my tour of duty in the worlds best trained military outfit. Albeit 20 years ago. Why should I deprive myself of the best chance of success.

The credit card, budget forgotten, or ignored, would deliver to me, in .22 format, for the princely sum of £350, a scoped up (3-9x42AO), with silencer and bipod, a beautiful piece of weaponry that is the Hatsan AT44-10 PCP air rifle.

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Knowing almost nothing.

It’s late. It’s so late, it’s now probably classed as very early. I’m trawling the internet. No, I’m not some spotty teen, degrading myself by looking at the internet for what it is most used for, trying not to think that it’s the last day of half term. It’s much worse degradation. I’m about to hit middle age, and about to hit my first proper mid life crises, I’m trawling for tips on how to hunt bunnies. For I have just bought my first air rifle. I say first proper mid life crises, for I have had many, just earlier than the socially excepted norm.

10 years ago, up until this year I had the job and the means and the life and the lifestyle. I had the cars, the motorcycle, the aircraft, the trophy wife. In fact not quite the trophy I thought she was though. But that’s for another blog. Divorce robbed me of once thought close friends, and when I woke up, also of my avenue of funding such a lifestyle. Who knew I wasn’t that indispensable to my clients after all? Apparently everyone did. So now I was skint, jobless and bored.

In a moment I shall rewind a little bit in time, in the lead up to buying my first air rifle, but for now, shall wallow in the story that lead me to my first blog.
It was while trawling the net for tips, I came across a blog, so well written, so beguiling, so in tune with everything that switched a light on inside, that explained perfectly that what bought me to the idea of feeding myself with God’s own bounty. The blog lifed me up, higher than I have been in weeks, and then in a few short hours had me crashing down. He had written for 18 months. Then, as quickly as he had started, he finished. More than a year ago, closer to two! I had been captivated, with a glimps of looking forward to his future writings only to have it all dashed in a blink of an eye. Just like that.

His blog was rabbit stew. Look for it. I implore you, read it, it’s amazing and far better written than I will ever be able to attempt or succeed in captivating an audience. Even if you don’t hunt or even shoot, I promise you, it’s a worthwhile read. If there was a mantle, a torch, then I am picking that mantle, that torch and running with it. For I am Son of Rabbit Stew. Not that HH has ever heard of me. But I’m sure he will approve.

I’m not here to tell you that a .177 is better than .22. There will be no debate. No reviews to tell you that one rifle is better than the other. For I am no expect. I won’t be able to teach you how to stalk your quarry. This though will be a journey of someone who had it all, and now back to basics, filling or trying his best to fill his time up with the latest craze, that will hopefully turn into a passion before your, the readers, eyes. Listen and partake in my journey, if hunting and shooting is your bag. If not, maybe I will entertain you with stories, no doubt of failing to feed myself.

Many years ago the taxpayer paid for my training through Sandhurst to be a soldier. Bunnies will be a walk in the park. How hard can it be…..?

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