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 compared 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.
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 would 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 difficult to spot unless they’re moving. A good set of binoculars is a must, if you don’t use them there will be a lot of missed opportunities.
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.