I woke up early and dressed quickly so that I could get out to the woods before sunrise. It really isn’t necassary to get to your hunting site before first light when hunting fox squirrels, but I love to be in place and set up to watch the woods coming alive as the morning breaks. This morning was cold with a light drizzel falling to earth as I parked my jeep and started the hike to a spot I’d found on an earlier outing. My shoot was nestled in a flat area containing several large mast producing trees, with acorns and hazel nuts strewn about in profusion. There was a small stream to my back, and about 150 yards ahead the woods were broken by a Powerline right of way before continuing for many acres on the other side. It was a great find, and contains a large number of squirrels; unfortunately it’s slated to be plowed under for a new housing development and shops, so this will be my last season here.
Making my way down to a space nestled between a falling log and a still standing tree, I settled in as daylight started to filter through the trees. I placed a comouflaged backpacking seat on the ground with the back against the standing tree’s trunk, pulled down my face mask and waited. A few minutes later I heard a branch snap to my right, and slowly looking up saw a doe stepping out from behind a tree not more than 15 yards away, followed by a second then a third. They grazed within a few yards, not detecting the camouflaged lump sitting there enjoying the show. All of the sudden the first doe snorted and flashed the “white flag” as she bolted leading her group away. Reckoning they must have caught my scent, I started to turn only to find myself staring at a big eight point buck. I had decided not to hunt deer this year for scheduling reasons, but I did have a tag and wished I’d have packed my .44 mag as I sometimes do in the overlapping season. But at this particular point in time, all I had with me was my new Webley Raider and a plan to bag a couple of squirrels.
As I sat there thinking about nothing in particular, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye that turned out to be a big red fox squirrel. He was about 50 yards away and was running excitedly around the trunk of a tree, down along a fallen log, and back up the tree. He was in plain view but would not hold still long enough for me to get a shot, so I sat, and waited, and watched until he disappeared for a moment before popping up about forty yards away running towards another tree. Just as he hopped on top a log moving towards another tree, I drew a short breath between pursed lips making a loud kissing noise that stopped the bushytail in his tracks. Squeezing the trigger the pellet was sent flying towards its target, impacting with a muffled thump as the squirrel went flipping off the log.
As all of this had been going on, a second squirrel had shown up momentarily but was gone by the time I had a chance to attend to him. Holding position I saw my potential target cautiously moving along a horizontal limb about thirty yards away and twenty feet up. Leaning way back on my backpacking seat and resting the rifle on my knee, I could just get the elevation required to line up a shot. Settling the crosshair on his head I took the shot, and watched the squirrel crumple – dropping to the ground with a plop. Walking out to collect my downed quarry, I found that the first was hit exactly where I’d aimed. The second one had started to move just as I’d squeezed off the shot; and rather than the head shot I’d intended he’d been hit right in the neck severing his spine on impact.
I walked back to my gear and sat down to have a cup of coffee and plan my next step. Sitting there enjoying the cup of strong decaf espresso (my shooting is not so good as to allow further degradation with a cafine jitter) I noted some activity in a tree a couple hundred yards away. Glassing the tree tops I saw several squirrels jumping about in a very large oak, so finished my cup, collected my gear, and headed off. I won’t draw out my little story with a squirrel by squirrel account, but in the next couple of hours I filled my limit under that big old tree. I found a great hide that afforded me an almost 360 degree field of view, and all of the next three squirrels were taken out of the upper branches of these trees as they slinked along warry of the predator they knew was somewhere below. I hate to say this, but honesty requires that I admit to several misses in taking these bushytails. Though I’ve been hunting birds, large and small game with firearms, shotguns and airguns for appoximately three decades, I’ve only been hunting tree squirrels (with any regularity) for the last three seasons. Shooting almost straight up still throws me at times, but I get better with each hunt and each season.
As a cold rain started to fall, I packed for the last time of the day and found a good place to take care of cleaning and dressing my bag before heading home for a hot shower, my family, and Thanksgiving dinner. The Webley raider is a very nice rifle for the price, and I do enjoy hunting with it. The accuarcy and power are up to the task, and the compact size make this air arm a pleasure to carry in the field. I like having the second .22 pellet on tap, and the Diablo Exacts I was shooting made a lethal combination for bushytails. I purchased this gun from Pyramid Airguns for around $370.00, and feel it is well worth the price. If you’re looking for an excellent low cost PCP, consider the Raider. And if you’re looking for a great hunting sport you should definitely give squirrel hunting a go! This was a very good Thanksgiving, and there is nowhere better to think of those things I am grateful for than sitting in the solitude of the squirrel woods.