Well, I’m starting to ease in to the hunting season with the squirrel opening in Minnesota this week. Had a lot going on, but managed to slip out for a few hours on Saturday morning and put a couple of bushytails in the game bag. I was using a little 12 fpe carbine that I’ve been having a blast with; it started life as the Benjamin Marauder Pistol (also called the P-Rod) but has turned into a very cool little carbine. I’ll tell you a bit about it then get back to the hunt….
The P-Rod comes with a skeletonized stock for a carbine conversion, which is functional but to be honest I really never was enthralled with it. It was a great standard accessory and did allow the gun to be used as a carbine, but it was not all that ergonomic and it definitely didn’t appeal to my sense of aesthetics. I used the P-Rod quite a bit when it first hit the market, both as a pistol and a carbine, eventually losing interest in it. But then about two weeks ago I was at an airgun show in Texas where I met Dave from R.Arms Innovations, which is his startup company that makes adaptors and AR type stock for Crosman guns now, but he will be expanding his offering to include other guns in future. Using his adaptor and the stock, I converted my P-Rod into a featherweight 12 fpe hunting carbine that is ergonomic and a blast to shoot. It has rekindled my enthusiasm for the P-Rod, if you own one I’d look into this stock ….. if you don’t its worth buying one just to do the conversion!
Anyways, with two hours free I hit the woods that border a little farm that is being cleared for a housing development. It’s about ten minutes from my house, and has a couple 5 acre stand of trees that have not yet been razed. There is still a lot of foliage, the leaves haven’t started to fall yet, which always makes for a challenging hunt. When I hit the tree line, I stopped and pulled a lightweight cam shirt over my t-shirt, put on a face mask and camo gloves, and slowly started stalking. Ten minutes in, I saw a flash of a tail as a squirrel moved through the ground covering behind a log. I leaned against a tree and waited for a shot, and though I got glimpses of him and he seemed unaware of me, he never stopped moving in the open. Then he vanished, so I decided to sit and see if he’d return, noticing a lot of cuttings in the area. After about 15 minutes, I caught motion out of the corner of my eye, he was back and this time had stopped at the base of a tree to my right side. Moving at glacial speed, I rotated around to line up a shot, and just as I got him in my scope he noticed me and zipped up the tree barking. At about 25 yards from me and 20 feet up the tree he poked his head around to bark at me only to do a backflip as my pellet smacked him in the head. I walked over and collected my quarry, slipped a carrying strap over his head and moved on. In the next hour I bagged another squirrel, this time a fox squirrel, in much the same way.
Because I was using an airgun, I was able to hunt an area that even a rimfire wouldn’t be tolerated, that was less than 10 minutes from home. Because of this I was able to get a short opening day hunt in, that would not otherwise be possible. I also did more stalking to shoot those squirrels than I did on most of my deer hunts last year ….. so it’s great practice for the pre-deer season.
I’m still relatively new to this area, and when my job moved me away from Indiana where I’d lived the last decade, the whole hunting infrastructure I’d built vanished; farms where I’d gotten permission, public land that I’d scouted and built up a familiarity with, friends I hunted with all evaporated. So I’ve been starting over again, and what I’ve been doing might help those of you that are struggling to fing hunting land. I am luck, in that because of my writing and the TV show, I do have several traveling hunts every season. But part of my love for airgun hunting stems from being able to get out for those short soul soothing hunts to break up my hectic professional and family life …. My “me” time. To do this I need places close to home, I started by visiting several local farms and trying to catch the land oners at a time when they didn’t look busy to ask if I could hunt coyote (that’s always a good foot in the door) squirrels, rabbits and crows on their land. I’ve asked about a dozen and gotten an unqualified yes on 2, and 2 more with restrictions. Next I started asking everyone at work and church if they had any contacts with a coyote or varmint problem, to see if I might be able to help out ….. picked up a couple more that way. Then I went online and looked for state land, wild life management areas, state forest, etc. Then I located names, found list and maps, went on google earth to narrow down terrains, and at the end have probably 20 places to hunt less than 45 minutes from home. It’s going to take me a couple of years to suss out the most productive sites, but that’s part of the fun!
As to those traveling hunt this year; got deer hunts in Virginia, Missouri, and Alabama lined up. A bison hunt in S. Dakota (as well as several coyote hunts around some wing shooting), small game in California, hopefully I’ll get the draw for javalina in AZ again (also trying for mulie and cous), hog hunts in Georgia and Texas, plus a couple predator hunts in Texas. I’m not big into exotics, but I do want a black buck and a Aoudad at some point, and might try to wrangle one of these while in the lone star state. And around these I’ll pack in several small game hunts around home an all over the country. I’ll also be going back to Africa next summer, and have the EBR, SHOT show , and a couple FT and BR events coming so there will be a lot of airgunning!
I do appreciate your visiting this blog, give me your comments, questions and tell me about your hunts …. Do your homework, practice with your gun, and get ready for one of the best times of the year!