Thursday, October 8, 2015

Squirrel Hunting 10/4/15 Edition

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You know it's time to hunt when your grandmother calls you and tells you to come kill all the squirrels. Over a two week period leading up to the opening of the season, my Granny must have called me five different times. 

Since we had moved since last season, I thought it prudent to take the ole Ruger out and make sure that she was still on target. Sure enough, the scope must have been dinged around because the gun shot around a foot low at 50 yards. Additionally, one of the set screws on the adjustment knobs had backed out. So, I keep twisting the adjustment to get the scope on target, but nothing was happening. I must have twisted that thing 50 times before I figured out that I wasn't actually adjusting the scope at all.

In case you forgot what equipment we are using, check out this writeup on my Ruger 10/22 Build

On the opening day of the season, we had dinner with my grandparents. I brought the gun but didn't have any really desire to go hunting. But, I spotted a rabbit in my mom's garden. She convinced me to go after it. She was tired of having her fall crops being eaten.

One shot later, we had an adult rabbit in the bag. As I approached the dead rabbit, I realized that I had made a mistake. Just behind the dead rabbit was another rabbit that was laying flat. It scampered off and a I knew I had missed an opportunity at a double. 

As I returned with the rabbit, my Granny informed me that there would be at least one more just down the path. She said they always came out at the same time. 

With my oldest son in tow, we tip-toed down the path and spied another rabbit, just as she said. I lined up and shot. And missed. The rabbit didn't seem to notice the bullet plowing up dirt just inches away. I made another shot and the rabbit shot straight up in the air, what seemed like six feet! Then, it crumbled to the ground. Griffin was so excited because he HATES rabbits, though we don't know why. He used to have nightmares about them! 

With two rabbits, I decided that I might as well make the rest of the evening profitable. Cleaning two is hardly worth the effort. 

So, we went hunting and turned up another set of squirrels. Not a bad first day! I was amazed at how easy the rabbits were to skin! 

A few days later, Neil and I went hunting together, but the wind was howling and the squirrels were not interesting in coming out. 

What few we did see were in trees right next to us, which we obviously spooked. But, instead of running away, they ran in to knot holes in the tree they currently occupied. We didn't get a single shot off, though we did sneak up on some deer.

My next trip out was fantastic, though it started out super slow. 

After covering around 25 acres with Griffin, my oldest son, he gave up (I don't blame him) and he went to play with his grandmother. I decided to walk the remaining 75 acres. Occasionally I would see a squirrel, but they acted very similar to the ones that Neil and I had seen just days before. 

Eventually, I got on a trail of a barking squirrel. I knew he was active and wouldn't be spooked by me. The problem was that he was in deep woods well off the shooting lanes and roads. I decided not to let that bother me. 

I found him minutes later and he offered me a great shot. Barking squirrels are the easiest to hunt because they let you know where they are and they remain stationary. I took a very easy shot....and missed. He escaped up the tree and in to the thick foliage. Luckily for me, he kept barking. I circled the tree over and over. Most people would have given up on him, but I wasn't about to let that happen. 

After a ten minute stand off, I spotted him. He was much higher in the tree than I had thought, which was why I never saw him. I took a rest on a nearby tree and popped him. Down he came. 

His fall angered many other nearby squirrels, who decided to let me know how they felt. This is very common behavior, as they try to bewilder predators by confusing them due to the shear number of barks and noise. Indeed, it has hard to concentrate on one squirrel when three or four are constantly barking and jumping from tree to tree. I locked in on one who was high up in a tree and in the foliage. I could see his shadow, so I took aim and squeezed a shot. Out of the tree he came! Plop. 

That angered the other squirrels even more. I spotted another and popped him. Though I know I hit him, he jumped from the tallest point of the tree, sailed down, and smacked the ground. I didn't think there was ANY way he could survive it. Imagine my surprise when he scampered up the nearest tree, never to be seen again. 

I picked up a young squirrel at random as I was checking my fantasy scores and I spied him just yards away, sitting on a limb staring at me. 

I stumbled in to another group of squirrels late in the afternoon which was incredibly similar to the other big group. Instead, I was able to pick off three in a matter of seconds. The issue was that the last one fell and became stuck in a limb. Initially I tried to throw a rock straight up and knock it out, only to have that rock nearly conk me in the head. I proceeded to try and shoot it out. It took 10 rounds to accomplish this feat, which was 7 more shots than it took to kill all three of the squirrels in the group. 

I tied my personal best that day with six squirrels.