We’re getting towards the end of summer and fall is right around the corner as I write blog entry. Soon it will be getting cooler and the start of a new hunting season. Of all the species I hunt with an airgun, squirrel hunting is one that gets me out more days of the year than any other, typically I’ll get in between 25-40 squirrel hunts in a season, often tied in with other hunts as I move around the country, bust as I mentioned last week I’ll travel just for squirrels!
I have mentioned before that there are almost unlimited opportunities to hunt squirrels in much of the country! And now that I’ve been in Minnesota for a couple years I’ve nailed down several locations to hunt. But I don’t rest on my laurels, many people new to the sport ask me how to get started, and realizing I get a lot of opportunity because of my writing etc., to keep perspective every year I look for new places on public land. Do to a lot of injuries and other excuses I let my self get a bit chunky. So besides dieting I’ve started back up with my exercise, and part of that ties in with hunting season prep. Today I found a State Wildlife Management area near my house, and took a trail run while scoping the area for squirrels and sign. I almost passed out a couple miles in between the exertion and the heat, but I also found two very likely looking den trees that I’ll be keeping an eye on up to season start.
Besides offering a lot of opportunity to hunt, squirrels season is typically the first to open and last to close in most places. Across much of the country it starts up in the August time frame and runs through January or February. I have permission to shoot on a number of little 20-40 acre properties with an Airgun, which is in fact often the primary reason I’m given the green light to hunt. Often when looking for permissions locally, I’ll Explain the benefits and safety aspects of airgun hunting. I wrote a while back that I spoke to a local farmer having coyote problems, and last year I took a couple big dogs off his property which pleased him quite a bit. My permission was only to hunt coyote with an explicit requirement that nothing else could be shot. However I bumped into him this morning and as we briefly chatted I mentioned I was looking around for new hunting areas. He said we have squirrels all over, to which I replied, I know by you told me only coyote to which he replied “I just meant know deer or turkey”. He the went on to say that his brother wasn’t coming out to hunt deer this year, so that would probably be OK as well, but to check back. It’s cool the way things happen!
There are a number of reasons to use an airgun for squirrel hunting: they are quiet, just the right power and carrying range (not too little not too much), and the potential for a high degree of accuracy. With respect to the quality of the hunt; the need to stalk in closer, pick your shots more carefully, and deliver the shot with precision is a very satisfying hunting experience! Because airguns are quiet and have limited range, they can be shot in a backyard or basement with the right back stop. Add to this the availability and low cost of pellets, and you will get a lot of shooting in with your hunting gun
So you may well ask, what makes a good PCP squirrel rifle? My preference is a .22 or .25 caliber rifle generating 30-50 fpe, though I’ve been shooting the .30 quite a bit the last several months and expect to be using this a lot as well. The .22 is entirely capable and has always been my default, however over the last few seasons I’ve appreciate the terminal performance of the .25. The .25 gives you a bit more range, but more importantly in fall when the bush is thick, it delivers more immediate kills. While I think the .35 is too much gun both in terms of the wound channel and the power, the .30 is a viable option that has done well for me on rabbits, turkey, and prairie dogs. And I do intend to give it a shakedown cruise in the woods this fall.
As mentioned last post, this season I’m going after a squirrel hunting super-slam; fox squirrel, gray squirrel, Aberts squirrel, and black color phase squirrel, and ground squirrel all with spring piston rifles. If you want long seasons, lots of shooting, high populations of your target species and the opportunity to keep your field skills sharp, you’ve got to give this a try! In a lot of the country season started or starts this month, so get your gear together and get on out there!!!