Fall Squirrel Hunt
          With My Camouflaged Benji Marauder .25
Jim Chapman
On the first official day of fall I grabbed my freshly camo'd .25 caliber Benjamin Marauder for a morning
squirrel hunt. The camo job was done using one of the spray on products that includes four can of paint in
black, tan, brown and green, along with a plastic fern stencil. This system allows the color pattern best
suited for the time of year, and can be removed and reapplied in varioyus colors and designs as needed.
Squirrel season has been on for a couple of
months in my neck of the woods, and the late
summer hunting has been challenging. With lots of
leaves on the trees, getting a clear shot has been
taking a lot of work, and I’ve seen a lot of
quick glimpses of fur jumping through the canopy,
but have only been getting a couple shots per
outing. At least this is the case when hunting public
land, I have a few farms that I can hunt where
there isn’t any pressure and the population are
high and we fare better, but I like working the big
tracts of state forest to the south of me primarily
for grays and north for fox squirrels, though either
can show up anywhere as their ranges overlap.
The gun I took out today was my .25 caliber
Benjamin Marauder, which I have set up to shoot
the Benjamin Domed pellet at approximately 850
fps. I have a couple of custom sticks for my
Marauders, so on one of the original stocks I cut
down the forestock, removed bulk, drilled holes in
the stock to further lighten it, and gave it a
camouflage finish. Camo tape was used on the
metal work, which can be removed when the gun
goes back into one of the custom stocks.
I worked my way through the woods, getting a
start before daylight, slowly walking while looking
and listening for squirrels cutting in the trees.
When I heard something or saw gnawed nuts lying
on the ground where the squirrels had been hitting
a tree, I’d sit back and wait. On my first set I
settled in on the side of a small hill with my back
up against a tree. After about ten minutes I caught
a quick glimpse of a gray that I’d heard
cutting as he ran down the side of a tall walnut
tree. He paused for a second, then dropped to the
ground and ran to the base of another tree ten
yards further back. This time he sat long enough
for me to line up and squeeze off the 40 yard shot.
The pellet smacked home with a loud thud,
dumping the squirrel on the spot. I could clearly
see where the he’d dropped, so I sat still and
waited to see if anything else would turn up.
It only took a few minutes before I saw a branch
high in the canopy about 60 yards off, shaking as
another gray jumped around as he fed. But I
couldn’t get a clean line until he jumped onto
a branch giving me a frontal view. I held the
crosshair an inch high and stroked the trigger, and
heard another thud that was followed by the
sound of the body crashing to the ground. I’d
been in the woods for a half hour and had two in
the bag.
At my next stop, it was almost a half hour before
the sound of angry barking drew my attention to a
rapidly twitching tail on the side of a tree less than
twenty yards to my right. I slowly swung the rifle
around and just as I dropped the crosshair in his
head and squeezed the trigger, Mr. Bushytail
bolted. Over the next hour I added one more to
the bag, missed another, and saw a couple more
that didn’t give me an opportunity.
I felt pretty good about the morning; this was the
first time I’d been to Lieber State forest. Iâ
€™d pinpointed it on Google Maps, then
searched the parks website and saw that hunting
was permitted. Zooming in on the map in the
satellite I found a place where I could pull off to
park, that was surrounded by thick stands of
trees. Once on the ground I located squirrels by
using my ears and eyes to get a handle on where
they’d be feeding. This is the type of squirrel
hunting I like best, big tracts of public land
searching out the needles in the haystacks. The
bags aren’t big, but the sense of satisfaction
is! As far as my shooting rig; the Marauder
worked a charm; these big .25 caliber pellets
make an impression on these small but tenacious
grays.
Still a lot of leaves in the trees, though the ground
covering had thinned out. At this time of the year most
squirrels are still up in the canopy so you have to work
for your shots.
Besides listening and looking in the trees for squirrels on
the move, you need to look at the ground for sign. If I find
a place with a lot of freahly gnawed nuts (acorns,
walnuts, hazlenuts, etc), I'll settle in and wait for at least
15 minutes before moving on.
On this outing I used natural rests to stabalize the rifle
on long shots. I generally prefer shooting off sticks
when squirrel hunting, but before the winter freeze
when there's dense folliage on the trees you need to be
highly mobile, and offhand shooting or use of natural
rests can work better.
My preferred method is to slowly hike through the
woods listening for squirrel cutting overhead, then
working in for the shot.
"This is the type
of squirrel hunting
I like best, big
tracts of public
land searching out
the needles in the
haystacks".