I’ve been living in the Midwest for about ten years now, and have become a serious squirrel hunting enthusiast in that time. Every year I wait for the second or third week in August to roll around, for the opening of the season. And while I now have several farms to hunt where the woods are full of these bushy tailed rodents, it has become a tradition that my first hunt of the year is on public land near Mississinewa lake where I did my first squirrel hunt on moving to Indiana. It took me two or three trips before I finally started scoring, with the primary species being the big fox squirrels.
I only had a couple hours free to hunt, so I woke up at 4:30 and made the one and a half hour drive getting onsite just as the red glow of the Eastern sky made its appearance. I grabbed my daypack, camo gloves and face mask, and the Evanix Rainstorm .22 I’d chosen for the days outing, then headed off to a stand of mast producing trees about a quarter mile in.
I started off sitting at the base of a tree in an area that had produced for me in the past. I heard movement in the canopy above, but besides the fact that it was still fairly dark, the foliage was so thick that I couldn’t see anything. I sat and listened, then as daylight started to creep up, started walking around the tree. By this time the squirrel was actively cutting, with shells raining down and branches shaking. For a brief instance I had a view of his head, and snapping the rifle up I shot …. just as he moved. I heard him crashing away though I didn’t catch another glimpse of him!
This time of year there is a lot of cover on the ground, but most of the squirrel activity is in the trees. But there’s a lot of foliage above. The squirrels can’t see you as well, of course you have difficulty seeing them as well. As you work through the woods, keep an eye out for walnuts, acorns, hazelnuts, etc on the ground, while listening for the squirrels cutting, gnawing and dropping them from above (above). Then find a place to sit where you can survey a large area and wait for movement and falling debris to give their location away (right) I picked up my first squirrel of the morning, a 55 yard head shot with the squirrel up high in the tree. From directly beneath I could see nothing, but by walking slowly and quietly away I obtained a better view of the tree top. The way I carry my squirrels is a harness made from three 4′ lengths of twine with a slip knot at either end. I double these over and tie of a loop, leaving six slip knots which are tightened around the neck and used to carry the squirrel (right).
A little further on I heard cutting along with a couple barks, so I stood by a tree and listened. Eventually I was able to localize the squirrels position, and worked my way under that tree. But the leaves were so thick I couldn’t see anything other than shaking of the branches. I slowly walked back out, and at 55 yards could see the bright orange of the fox squirrel high up, cutting down nuts that rained below. I lined up the shot and squeezed the trigger, and with a quiet puff of air watched the squirrel drop to the ground, bouncing of the lower limbs as he fell. I collected my first bushy tail of the season and put him on my game carrier, before taking to the trail.
A little further along I saw a squirrel on the ground running between trees, and took a knee while trying to line up the moving target. But before a chance of a shot opened up, the squirrel bolted up a tree and disappeared. Over the next twenty minutes I saw glimpses of him moving but only for a second at a time. Eventually he stopped in a tunnel like opening through the branches, and using my bipod lined up for the shot with the crosshairs right on his head. I squeezed the trigger, and a chunk of bark exploded a half inch over his head sending him for cover! I’d guesstimate the range at 50 yards where the gun is zeroed, but taking out my range finder (I know, should have done that before the shot) saw that it was actually 32 yards. Well, you live and you learn.
It was pretty close to my time limit so I started the half hour walk back along a deer trail. A few minutes later another squirrel jumped tree to tree above the trail, landing in a big oak tree. For the first time I had a wide open shot as he sat in the fork of a tree watching me. I took my time and leaned against a tree trunk for stability. I pulled the trigger and heard the pellet thump into the squirrels head, at which he collapsed into the fork of the tree. I spent the next twenty minutes trying to shoot him out of that fork, but finally gave up. I hated to waste this little game animal, but it happens sometimes. At least with squirrel hunting, I can get out on these short hunts before work 2-3 times per week!
The Evanix Rainstorm is one of my workhorse guns, I use it hard and the gun stands up to anything I throw at it! It is very accurate, very powerful, cycles quickly, and over the last three season has taken more squirrel, rabbit, and prairie dogs than I can keep track of. This gun represents a great value, with the performance all out of proportion to the cost.
My yearly ritual continues with the first trip of the new season.