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 various 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 ‘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.