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First rat of the season....

Well it was a washout Sunday this last weekend when I decided to head down to the turkey farm to see if the inclement weather had brought and rats in from the fields, or rather, up from the ditches as the water level was about 5 feet deep whereas it would normally only be 5 inches deep.  Bill had not been out for a few days and within seconds of us getting to the farm he was scenting around the old concrete drain cover.  The cover was still far too high and even with the smoker it would have been impossible to see any felling rats let alone get Bilbo onto the backs of any through the thick grass.
That didn't stop him trying to convince them to leave their shelter by worrying the concrete and whining.  It was great to see his enthusiasm and even better to give a command that he almost immediately responded to even though his blood was obviously up by now.   He bounded over taking note of all the scent in the grass and the tunnels underneath joining differing items that offered cover.  He showed interest near to the heavy roller and the old wooden panel but he marked neither.
From there it was a quick walk through the gate and on towards the first shed.  This shed had seen the rats use the hollow roof panel as a home and unfortunately we cant get at them there.  The floor of the shed showed very little sign rat habitation around the edge, other than two dark holes in the far side.  Bill was immediately interested in the first one he stuck his nose into and he was digging at it straight away.  The tunnels underneath are all interlinked and without another dog or at least the help from my 3 year old, keeping an eye outside I knew it would only be luck that would see us catch a rat.  I have learnt that Bilbo does not tend towards false marking, and will only set about any hole if it has fresh scent in it.  That said in these sheds the rats flee to the next one, as you are still digging inside.  Occasionally one or two will head to a stop end inside the shed and I will be lucky and Bill will get his reward, more often than not we have to head on and this was the outcome on this day.
Bill was firmly in work mode now and his nose spent most of its time touching the ground.  We entered the next shed and he began scenting in the air on his back feet.  This shed did not have a hollow roof but I had found rats amongst the low beams and I think he had sensed one somewhere amongst them but for the life of me I couldn't find it.  Again there was little sign at ground level, this was a shame as it was usually this shed that produced most of the rats Bill accounted for.  It had not been used for the same number of birds recently and perhaps that had a bearing on its lack of rodents.
Next we worked around the other buildings in the yard, this gave Bill a chance to assess the large cockerels that had been growing for the past year and left free as farm pets more than any food source.  They were large birds that showed no sign of backing down to him as he approached and he gave them a respectful distance, and a wary eye as he cruised round the buildings nearby.  The only place he showed any sign of interest was through the collapsed shed at the end of the yard, but this was full of growth still and within seconds of him entering I was left having to listen to his movements as the thick growth completely hid him from view.  The sound of his excited feet on the wooden panels told a story of its own and I was as frustrated as he was to not be able to deliver any vermin to him.
Our last stop was the shed at the end of the yard, a tidy this last month had seen some old pedal cycles and other items stacked on top of metal sheeting that regularly held the odd rat.  It was to this pile he made and scented, within seconds marking under one edge.  It is usually a difficult pile to manage as there are again so many escape routes, most not visible.  With the noise and time it took to clear the excess I didn't hold out much hope of a result but as I stuck my spade under the sheeting and lifted Bill shot under and headed up towards me.  Within a fraction of a second it was all over for an average sized adult rat.  I don't even remember it getting a squeak off as Bill bit down hard and often before the ritual of not wanting to hand it over started.  To his credit he handed it over with little fuss when I asked for it.
We walked outside through the grass to see if he marked anywhere else but as the rain started again we headed home.  One rat down and a good sign that they were moving back in.


A great post and a good start to the year. Well in Bilbo.(hmm, must work harder on the recall with an excited Kip!)



Thanks for a great read TokaS!  

Bilbo looks like a very well made young dog, I look forward to hearing all about his many hunts to come

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