On a recent trip over to South Africa, I had the opportunity to spend the downtime when not big game hunting, wandering the bush and working areas of a huge sheep ranch with a collection of airguns to get in some pest control shooting. The two primary guns used were a BSA Superten in .22, and a Quackenbush Exile in .25.
In the BSA a number of pellets were used, including the Predator Polymer Tips, RWS SuperDomes, Beeman Kodiaks, and Crow magnums. In the .25 I used RWS SuperDomes and Field Trophy roundnose and pointed pellets. We performed a lot of bench testing with these pellets before hitting the field, and all were known to be accurate out of the guns being used. Both guns had silencers, which are legal on airguns in South Africa . These were a very effective piece of equipment in the field, allowing multiple shots before spooking other animals in the region.
The animals identified as pest that I was asked to remove on sight included a variety of starlings, crows and ravens, a several species of pigeons, hares, springhares, hyrax, and if possible, any jackal I came across. We shot the pigeons around the animal feeders where they would literally fill the sky at times, coming in and eating vast quantities of feed. This was fun shooting,,, sitting beside a big tree and waiting for the doves to land first. We didn’t shoot these, but after a few minutes the pigeons would land, and weâ €™d target in on a couple or few of these until they flew off. After a short wait the doves would return followed by the pigeons, and weâ€™d repeat the process. These birds were collected and the workers stocked their larders with them for future meals.
The crows, ravens and starlings (pied, glossy, red wing, and European) are purely viewed as pest species. The starlings come in large numbers to raid the feeders, and leave piles of guano as a thank you. The pied glossy, and red wing share all the traits and characteristics of their European brethren, which as in the States are also an environmental nightmare in Africa. The .22 was a blast to pick these vermin off as they worked their way through the fence lines and out buildings. It became great sport to go after a ‘grand slam’ of starlings on each outing.
The ultimate winged game on this trip was without doubt the Guinea Fowl, these birds are wary requiring careful stalking to get into shooting range. I found the .25 very effective on the birds, which actually were one of my favorite airgun quarries, big game included. I took a few of the Guineas which were rendered into an outstanding stew. These birds travel in flocks as small as ten and I saw as many as 50 birds running along.