I am getting a lot of squirrel hunting in this year, having lined up four different farms that are a 15-45 minute drive from my house. These spots don’t get much small game pressure, and the populations of gray and fox squirrels are good. At two of these properties I’ve only seen gray squirrels, at one only fox squirrels and two have a good mix. This morning I got up at 5:30 and drove to the furthest for a morning hunt, stopped by the gym, showered and had a fast lunch, and was in my office by 12:00. It was rainy and very overcast with not a lot of activity, but I did mange to bag a couple big fox squirrels.
The rifle I’ve been using the most for squirrel is the Compatto, but today I opted for one of my long standing favorites, the Daystate Huntsman Classic. This rifle is one of my all time favorites, and to my way of thinking the best looking air rifle ever built. Sleek and ergonomic, my rifle in .22 is very accurate, plenty of power,and a really great trigger set to break at about 14 oz on my gun. The 10 shot cassette magazine function flawlessly and cycles rapidly with a smooth bolt action.
When I got on site it was a gray and dingy morning with a light drizzle coming down. I saw a few potential den trees and a couple large drays and decided to settle in for a closer look. When the conditions make spot and stalk difficult, I look for areas of food sources or shelters and settle in. On this morning, besides the overcast skies, low ambient lighting, gusting winds and constant drizzle, it was hard to pick up and small movements in the branches overhead. I thought my best bet was to sit and methodically glass my way through the trees.
I sat down at the base of a big oak, and slipped my binoculars out of the day-pack. I was carrying my Leupold 8X binos, I have these in 10x as well and think the glass is very good in the low light. Almost any bino works on a bright sunny day, it’s when the light is low and you need to look into the shadows that the quality of glass becomes apparent. The reason I choose the smaller and lower mag glass was because you don’t need a lot of magnification when most spotting is inside 75 yards, and lower mag glass seems to work better in lower light. The two manufacturers of binoculars I use the most are my Leupolds and Hawke, unfortunately my Hawkes were stolen out of my bag on one of my overseas trips and I haven’t replaced them yet ….. but I will!
It never ceases to amaze me, as soon as I started looking though my binos I spotted a couple of squirrels watching me. One was laying on a branch about 50 feet up, and was watching me through the branches. His tail hanging down was the first give away, but as I glassed him noted that he was staring directly at me and feeling comfortable in his camouflage. The second one was off to my left at abvout 60 yards and 50 feet up. He was sitting in a fork in the trunk hidden in the deep shadows, and while he looks obvious in the close up photo with a telephoto lens, he was not at all easy to see with the naked eye.
Sitting with my back against the a tree trunk, I was able to lock in a steady hold. I lined up on the squirrel back in the shadows, even though he was further away, he offered a better target. I squeezed the trigger and dropped the bushytail. Turning to get the second one, found that he’d taken off. I was using the 18 grain JSB Exact pellets, which are consistently accurate in a number of guns and provide very good terminal performance.
I worked my way through the woods and saw a couple more squirrels at a distance and on the move. About 9:30 I decided I needed to get to the office and wanted to go for a workout first, so started back to the car. On the way out I spotted another squirrel high in the tree tops, peaking around a tree trunk. Lining up the shot as I stood leaning against a tree, I let the pellet fly and another squirrel came down giving me a brace to add to the freezer. I have found it surprising that there haven’t been many squirrels on the ground yet, I’d have expected the fox squirrels at least to be shifting some of their activities out of the tree tops and onto the ground already.
The last few minutes of my outing was to quickly skin and gut the squirrels, which I slipped into a plastic zip-lock baggie and tossed into the ice chest. This was a short but fun hunt in challenging conditions, and it reminded me why I love the Huntsman Classic. I know I’ve been going on about the Compatto lately, and you might think me fickle for carrying on about the Huntsman…… but it is possible to love more than one rifle! The thing with the Huntsman is that besides the outstanding performance, as mentioned, I think its the sleekest and most beautifully executed production rifle to date. I’ll be taking a lot of other guns out into the squirrel woods, so stay tuned!
Hunts coming up: black squirrel in Michigan, squirrels and predators in Indiana, quail in California, deer in Utah under special permit, deer and bear in Virginia, oryx, predators, and rabbits in Texas, deer in Alabama, Hogs in Texas….. and I’ll be squeezing in several squirrel, rabbit, and hog hunts along the way…… then comes the SHOT Show!