Squirrel Hunt with the Benjamin Trail NP (NitroPiston)
As squirrel season got underway, I was hitting the woods for a quick hunt in the morning before work. On most mornings I found myself stalking though the woods with on of my high power PCPs, and was shooting lots of squirrels. One morning as I sat watching a den tree and waiting for the action to start, I started thinking back over the last decade of squirrel hunting since moving to the Midwest. A lot of those hunts, especially the earlier ones had been done with one of my trusty springers, often an old Beeman C1. But this year Iâ€™d not gone out once with a springer, and I decided then and there to fix this oversight the following morning!
But which gun to use? I looked in my gun room and there were several to choose from, but finally I settled on a Crosman Benjamin Trail NP in .22 caliber. The gun is light, compact, accurate, moderately powerful, and easily capable of laying out the 35 yards bushytails I looked forward to encountering. I also like the ergonomic thumbhole stock and reckoned the digital camo would be spot on in the still heavy foliage of early fall.
I worked my way into the woods as the first rays of day started to filter through the trees listening for nuts dropping out of the canopy while watching for the telltale cuttings raining down from above. I found an area that was thick in mast producing trees with freshly dropped walnuts and acorns littering the ground. I stood leaning against a tree trunk until I saw a branch shaking above, out of sequence with the light wind slipping through the leaves. After a couple of minutes I saw the squirrel behind the disturbance and brought the gun up using the tree to lightly brace my forward arm.
Dropping the crosshair a little under the squirrels head, I squeezed the trigger, which was followed by a heavy thwack and the sound of my first squirrel of the morning bouncing through the limbs to ground. I collected my game and placed him in a plastic bag, which I then slipped into my pack. Over the next couple hours I worked my way through the stand of woods bordering the river, collecting a couple more for the freezer along the way.
Noticing the time and realizing I had a conference call starting in an hour, I spent a quick five minutes cleaning the three fat fox squirrels, slipping them in plastic bag and tossing them into the ice chest, and racing home for a fast shower before work
Figures 1. The trees have a lot of foliage at this time of year; the good is that squirrels have a hard time seeing you sneak up, the bad is that you have a heard time spotting them in the trees! 2. Look for mast such as acorns, walnuts, hazelnuts laying on the ground, or listen for the sound of cuttings raining down around you to localize your quarry. 3. When shooting a springer, use natural rest such as a tree trunck to lightly brace against to steady your shot. 4. Watch where the squirrel falls after your shot and mark it with external reference, then sit and wait a couple minutes as another squirrel may come along. 5. Here I kneel with gun, squirrel and a sense of satisfaction coming from a good hunt.