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While Kurt, the Fall City Rat Hunter, used a modern-day M-1 Carbine to BLAST away at rats, Dave used a centuries old deadly device to take out rats - a blowgun!
When I was 15 my best friend's family moved into a house that they owned, but which had not been lived in for many years. This was way back in the sticks of West by-God Virginia. We would play outside while it was light but after dark there were a couple shoot-em-up TV shows that we liked to watch. One night, for no particular reason, we were crashed on the couch in an otherwise bare room watching TV with the lights out. After a while, in the glow of the TV, we noticed mice venturing out into the room. We decided that for that night only we would live and let live. The next night we began to thin the ranks.
Our weapons of choice were our shotguns, but with an instinctive sixth sense natural to all hunters and honed by years of experience, we knew our parents would kill us if we used those. So, our second weapon of choice was selected: our home-made blow-guns. You won't find these in the toy department, and they are probably illegal in Massachusetts. We made our blowguns out of 5 feet of ½ inch copper pipe. Our darts were made out of 4 to 6 inch pieces of cloths-hanger wire that we sharpened to a needle point on the side of a grinder wheel. We tried several designs, but by far the best dart was made by heating the rod with a torch and melting it into the small hole of a cheap plastic jewelry bead. We found one set of beads that were a perfect fit.
Months before we had perfected the skill of explosively exhausting our lungs of air without jerking our upper torso and throwing off the shot. When done correctly, we could drive the tip of the dart through 3/8" plywood.
So, the second night we got set up, and about halfway through the first commercial break in "Dukes of Hazard" here they came. We thought they might run after the first shots, so we had arranged to fire the first volley at the same time. We needn't have worried. Will all the noise from the TV, they didn't know what hit them. We only had 12 really good darts, and as it turned out, we only had a 50% hit rate. In no time at all, we were out of darts, but we could see that we had scored. We turned on the lights and we had 6 critters pinned to the hardwood floor. Only one was dead, the others were pinned down - literally! We had planned on that and quickly finished them off with our ball bats.
That's the noise that Steve's mother heard. When she stormed into the room, I thought we were dead, but that was not the case. When she learned the whole story, she offered us bait. But she also got onto Steve's dad about closing up all the gaps and holes in the drafty old house and within weeks we were out of targets.
The next day we badgered Steve's mom into taking us into town for more beads so we could stock up. We had realized that after a dart had skewered a rat, we didn't want it back in the same weapon upon which we had to put our mouths.
Later that same month Steve's mom adopted a stray cat and our fun with mice was officially over. One time and one time only, we used a bead - just a bead - no dart - just the bead, in a blowgun on the cat. Steve's mom heard that too. And that time we really were dead!
I'm attaching photos of the blowgun. There are also three of the better designs of darts. Two of them use the close-fitting (to bore diameter) beads. One is the clothes-hanger design (best). The other is a design that uses bamboo shish-kebob skewers that are pointed on both ends. We then would wrap thread around the short tip (to the rear of the bead) and dab it with glue to keep the bead from coming off. Unless you are shooting foam targets, the bamboo is a one-shot/disposable dart. Although it will actually penetrate soft pine and critters, the tip is shot and you just can't seem to get really good results trying to whittle a new point. I think that maybe after a hard hit the integrity of the bamboo is degraded.
The other design uses 316 stainless-steel welding rod, half an ear-plug (hearing protection - the cylindrical foam type), and a plastic npt pipe fitting thread protector (cap) that we split in 4 places so that the foam ear-plug material would cause the pipe cap to flair out fit the bore snugly. These are very fast due to less mass, but they don't hit as hard. Also, the cap requires constant adjustment during use, if you over-penetrate, you leave the cap and foam behind. If you don't over-penetrate, the cap and foam zoom up the shaft and also smack into the target.
Years ago when cloth camo tape came out, I used that on the gun and added the foam pipe insulation as a way to hold the darts. Notice the brown electrical tape around the mouth end? That's there for three reasons. First, it helps secure the cloth tape and prevents it from getting soggy/funky. Second, it keeps your mouth/teeth off the metal. Third, it.s wrapped on in such a way as to hang slightly over the end. By wrapping the tape tight, it pulls itself around the edge of the pipe and a bit of force is required to get the bead of the dart past the tape. This keeps it from falling out, and it also helps to keep one from inhaling a dart!
Sorry I don't have any kill shots. That was 30 years ago and we were poor a Job's Turkey. We wouldn't have dreamed of wasting film and developing on rodents. Photographs were only taken on special occasions, weddings, funerals, winning a first place at the county fair, and buck kills - if the rack was good.
Y'all come back now, ya hear? ;-)
The Fall City Rat Hunter Replies: WOW Dave - that some serious looking rat killing hardware. Nice job taking out the furry critters ... Steve's Mom should be proud of 'ya ... even though you pestered the cat later on. Excellent design ... especially like the electrical tape at the mouth end to prevent self-inhalation of the dart - D'OH!