Anyone visiting this Web site is sure to be an Air Gunner or at least have an interest in shooting. There will be many of those shooters that have an interest in hunting and amongst those there are sure to be some that have an interest in their quarry, not simply as targets but as a creature with habits, a life cycle and a reason for doing whatever it is that makes them a target for hunters and puts them in the Vermin category.

Two of those creatures which we call vermin are the Rabbit and the Rat. A man who hunted these (never with gun) for most of his life and who I considered the foremost authority on rats in this country was Brian Plummer. Brian wrote many books on the subject of Rats, Ratting Dogs and Ferreting, I would recommend his work unreservedly. He has also bred terriers and has created the 'Plummer Terrier'.

One of Brian's first books was 'Tales of a Rat-Hunting Man', this is a most humorous (autobiographical) book and is not for the faint hearted, great reading at any time.

If it is not breaking copyright I include a short extract here.

We arrived at the tip, nodded at the gateman, an unhappy elderly fellow who looked and dressed as I imagine Dr Crippen did and who at first thought I was a scrap metal dealer stealing from the tip and thus tolerated me, but now realised I was a rat hunter and was decidedly suspicious and apprehensive, I took down my ferret bag, and was about to insert a large white jill into the obviously well-used rat warrens.

'Won't find any', said the voice behind me, and I turned and saw a large fat man: decidedly dirty, unshaven; dressed in a filthy shirt, torn trousers held up with a huge belt, it's buckle displaying the badge of the Boy's Brigade. He looked straight out of Bill Tidy's cartoon 'The Cloggies'. I ignored him - a difficult task, as he was bending over my shoulder, practically breathing in my ear. 'Just done 'em', he hissed, as if imparting some dreadful secret to me. And dreadful it was. I had just spend my last pound note on buying a film for my penniless photographer, 'Damn it !' I said, and prepared to go home.

'Your terriers?' he asked. It was fairly obvious they were as I had them on leads. 'No, nothing to do with them' I said facetiously. He gave me a look like a man collecting information for a book entitled The World is Full of Daft Sods and ignoring my comment, went on, 'Yer come 'ere to get rats to train 'em ?' 'No,' I said continuing my stupid banter, 'I've come to this tip because I've heard of it's incredible social life and wish to pick up a young debutante'. He side stepped this comment. 'How much yer pay me for rats?' My God, he was serious!' 'How much yer want ?' I said lapsing into the vernacular I used when buying antique gin traps from tinkers. 'Half a dollar,' he said testingly. 'Two bob' I offered, as I knew he'd come down, and anyway I fancied myself as a bit of a financial wizard at the time. 'Done,' he said instantly, spitting a pool of dark brown saliva on to his filthy paw to clasp into mine to seal the agreement, through discretion and the sight of that brown pool of saliva made me refrain from sealing the deal in this manner and I merely nodded in agreement. 'See yer money.' he said, suddenly suspicious, I took out the change in my hand,'See yer rats' I said, equally suspicious (he could have been a mugger), and quick as a flash he reached into his shirt and fetched out a large squeaking female rat.

He had five rats, I had four terriers. He dropped the rats to the dogs, who snapped them up with varying degrees of enthusiasm. When I had spent my 8s he said, 'Half a dollar for the last one and a trick thrown in?'. I was so enthralled with my new found friend that I nodded without even a haggle. He reached over and took my huge hob ferret out of it's 'liner box' and thrust it down inside his shirt to where the last rat lay huddled, sandwiched between his Boy's Brigade belt and his distended beer gut. A battle suddenly broke out and Fred Cleaver's (as my new found friend was called) shirt bubbled and boiled like tight trousers on a fat lady. The battle finally subsided and the ferret began to crunch it's way into the rat. Smears of blood began to appear in Cleaver's shirt,'Any family?' I asked, wondering whether the plague, salmonella, or God knows what had carried them off. 'Me wife's left me,' he said stonily. 'How strange', said my photographer friend sarcastically, but the point was totally missed.

Tales of a Rat-Hunting Man - ISBN 0 86072 025 X

I hope these few paragraphs have given you a taste for Brian Plummer's work.

I would also recommend 'Omega' and 'The Adventures of an Artisan Hunter' look for them at Game Fair book stalls or try Amazon

Dr David Brian Plummer.  Sept 11th 1936 - Sept 12th 2003

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