Mission: Ground Squirrel Pest Control
Jim
Chapman
  
06/27/2012
Going online to do a bit of
background work, I found that
there were two species of ground
squirrel in the state, the Frankiln
Ground Squirrel which has limited
distribution and is protected, and
the thirteen lined ground squirrel,
which has a fairly wide
distribution and is a pest species
that can be taken anywhere at
anytime. There was a big
popuation at a local sport field
that had been digging holes all
over, and Brian had gotten us
cleared with local law
enforcement to shoot them with
airguns. We pitched up on a very
hot morning around 10:00 am,
and found these little rodents run-
I've been living and hunting in Indiana for about ten years now, and have spent a lot of
time in the field not only hunting, but fishing, mountain biking, kyaking, and generally
rambling around. But not only have I never seen a ground squirrel here, I never heard
anybody mention them. So when my frequent hunting buddy Brian Beck called and
asked if I wanted to do a pest control shoot for ground squirrels I was all over it.
The gun I selected for the day
was the .25 caliber Benjamin
Marauder with a Niko Sterling
scope, using JSB King
round-nose pellets. I opted for
this gun because it was one of
the quieter rifles I had and it
was dialed in and ready to go.
Next time I'll probably take a
.177 for the flatter shooting
characteristics. These animals
are much smaller than prairie
dogs, but the shots were
usually closer as well, in the
30-60 yard range.
These are strikingly marked
ground squirrels when
compareed to the gray digger
I grew up hunting in California,
but it's amazing how well they blend in. They are very
hard to spot when holding still.
We were shooting from whatever position was
available, standing, sitting, prone, and using whatever
support was handy. I didn't have a bipod on my gun
but will next time.
ing all over the field. There were a few mounds with squirrels sitting
on their haunches prairie dog style, but for the most part the holes
were dug into the ground without a mound, and you couldn't see
them until almost stepping in to one. Often the squirrels would move
while staying very low to the ground. They were popping up and
down, Brian said it looked like one of those arcade games where
you have to bop the weasel.
This was a real find, I've been
traveling out west to shoot prairie
dogs and ground squirrels, never
realizing that I could be in some
great varminting territory and hour
or two from home!
We also did a local service clearing
these pests from an area where
they were creating a real hazard.
As we started asking around we
have been finding that there are
several farmers in the area that are
experiencing crop damage that
would like us to shoot them out....
we just need to find the best way to
do it in wide open fields.
Brian was shooting his .25 caliber TalonTune Condor, and I used it a couple times as well. A very nice
rifle that is accurate and powerful,  and with the shroud extension very quiet. One of the things I really
liked was the aftermarket TTTA Tank Adaptor that lowers the tank for a better sight alignment through the
scope, and integrates a pressure gauge and a quick release fill connector that allows the tank to be filled
without being dismounted. Between the two of us we culled several squirrels within a couple hours, which
was good because the temperature had climbed to over a hundred degrees by noon, and we gave out
before these striped gophers had.
< Gopher on the move
<
Another Day Another Gun
About a week after this first outing we went out
on another morning hunt before the day got too
hot. On this occassion my rifle selection was the
Air Arms 510 TC rifle, which I'd used on a
prairie dog hunt the month before. It's a very
accurate rifle in .22 that provides a lot of shots
per fill due to the twin  air cylinders below the
barrel. The ground squirrels were out and
moving, so we got started on thinning the
numbers.
Brian was carrying his
TalonTune .25 again, and we
were taking shots as we
walked through the field or
over the hood of the truck.
 These small rodents move
quickly and erratically, and
woould sometimes sit back
on their haunches presenting
a good shot, but at other you
only had a brief instant to
make the kill. With these
guns head or body shots
work fine, but even with a
clean headshot they may flop
down there hole.
 It can be difficult to spot
these guys when the grass
gets more than a few inches
long, but even in very short
grass their coloration can
make them difficulkt to spot
unless they're moving. A
good set of binnoculars is a
must, if you don't use them
there will be a lot of missed
opportunites.
We cleared out quite a number of these rodents over three days of hunting. This is a real pest control
situation so we're trying to shoot them out. However with all the adjacent bean crops surrounding the
sports fields this may be exceedingly difficult. We've found paths leading between the holes in the park
to the bean fields, and there seems to be another population hidden out there as well. At any rate it will
give us a lot of shooting practice through the slow hunting months of summer.