It is said that there is no rest for the wicked, and this is certainly true when you consider the antics of the ever-increasing population of predators devouring anything they can get hold of. The harsh winter and unseasonably cold spring have meant times have been hard not just for the game birds but for the predators as well.
Thanks to gamekeepers’ efforts, many creatures have managed to overwinter successfully. But it’s not only the game birds that have fared better than most during the season of lean pickings. All of nature’s grain eaters have benefited from the endeavours of the keeper, as food could always be found at the feed rides and hoppers that have been topped up every day no matter what the weather threw at them. But despite the keeper’s best efforts there are inevitably some in other areas that have suffered deprivation at the hands of the arctic chill.
It never ceases to amaze me that, no matter how inclement the weather is or how many birds are left at the end of the season, once spring begins to break out from the chill grip of winter, most life in the air and on the ground definitely seems to be of a predatory nature. A winter as cold and snow as deep as it has been this year has been exacerbated by its duration. I don’t think anyone can remember it being as cold as it has been for this long, and so far into spring. This, of course, has meant that the predators are perhaps hungrier than usual, and their search for food has meant travelling further, seeking out places where food is more plentiful – which means the keeper begins to see an increase in the amount of vermin frequenting the region.
Of course, it isn’t just the predators that are left. The overwintered stock has also begun to emerge. The ducks have begun nesting in the dyke sides and pond margins. The partridges have paired up, and the dominant cock pheasants in their magnificent breeding plumage have donned their best bib and tucker to strut their stuff as they vie for territory and dominance over their harem of hens.
These are the beginnings of the shoot’s future bonus ball, that little extra that enhances all the countryside and shoots no matter how large or small. These overwintered birds augment any indigenous wild stock – and because, in the natural course of things, nature has made them fairly low down on the food chain, everything wants to eat either them, their eggs or their young. And so it is incumbent on countrymen to protect them as best they can, and that is why at this time of year, if you want any of them to survive, it is imperative that you defend them right through to the beginning of the new season.
There are many methods within the keeper’s armoury with which to reduce the number of vermin, and one of the most efficient for those that refuse to enter the Larsen trap, come within range of the shotgun or run through the tunnel over the Fenn, is the .22 rimfire. It has many advantages, it is very quiet, and as the advert for another popular product says, it is cheap to run and easy to maintain.
The rifle currently in my possession is the CZ .22 American 452. This is coupled with the Weaver Classic 4-16×42 also from Edgar Brothers, and I can honestly say it is consistent and extremely effective in its role. The rifle itself is light and exceptionally accurate. It is robust enough to survive even in my hands, and it has never let me down.
Lots of .22 rimfires have 20in or 24in barrels, and the popular perception is that longer barrels make for improved accuracy. I can assure you that the CZ doesn’t suffer from any loss of accuracy because of its 16in barrels. In fact the diminutive length of the barrels makes it eminently pointable while also making it easy to swing and enhancing its ability to be carried easily over long distances without needing the muscles of a bodybuilder.
Out in the field when crawling around in undergrowth, the compactness of this rifle is a bonus as its length means it is less likely to snag up. An over-the-barrel moderator, or even one that adds length to the barrel, fails to detract from any of the advantages mentioned.
The action on the CZ is the Mauser design, and the bolt assembly is smooth and refined. The receiver has the ability to accept most sights currently available, and I have found it to pair with the Weaver Classic superbly well. When you cock the action, you are alerted to the fact that the gun is ready to fire by a small red dot on the slight protuberance to the rear of the bolt.
Bullets are fed into the action from a five-shot polymer magazine, which I have never found to jam or cause me to have a misfire. It ejects the empty shells well clear of the action and recycles without issue. The stock is made of walnut and has withstood some rough treatment eminently well. The trigger pull is slightly heavy, but because it can be adjusted this is not a problem – and, as with most things, you soon become accustomed to it.
All in all an accurate and robust rifle, well suited to its allotted task in the vermin control stakes. It withstands the everyday knocks well and, despite being used on a regular basis, unlike me it has maintained its good looks without looking old or dated. I have shot with this rifle for over a year now and it has been used in one way or another almost every day without losing any of its reliability or accuracy. I would definitely have another. ν
For more information on the CZ and Weaver ranges, contact distributor Edgar Brothers on 01625 613177 or