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USING A DOT SIGHT ON A BIG BORE AIRGUN

This past Morning I showed up to Johns at 3:00 am to pick him up to hunt but he was feeling under the weather so he gave me the AAA Big Bore .357 along with a 50 round box of his precision made 125 gr pellets. I set out to the high desert on a solo mission to try and get a Jackrabbit, it was 61 degrees and had just rained the day before.

Hunting area

The time of arrival was 4:45 am, I filled the gun to the 3600 psi and loaded the 6 massive pellets along with water and food for the day. The gun was equipped with a very small dot sight that was sighted at 90 yards along with a Magpul forend grip for comfort. I too was carrying my binoculars around my neck as I was going to be glassing the Jackrabbits.

dot sight

The morning was a bit slow as I’m guessing the Jackrabbits may have still been held up from the recent rainstorm. Within about 20 minutes I sprung a young juvenile out from behind a set of Joshua trees and he was gone, making his large 1 mile loop back to the same spot. The hiking was a bit rough and I was tired, by 9:00 am it was already in the mid 80’s and getting hotter by the minute. I had taken a break around that time under some shade hoping to spot some ears in the distance, no such luck even with binoculars.

sitting in shade

The day was just plain slow with action so I hiked some more, my GPS said I had ventured 6 miles by this time. The slayer is very lightweight and at this point was happy it didn’t have the extra weight of a scope. I was a bit skeptical on the use of a dot sight on a gun that’s capable of 300 yard shots. Everything becomes heavy when your hiking in the desert at these distances, my feet were sore and I was frustrated in not seeing anything but Juveniles all day. I started making my way back and soon came into a large valley with Joshua trees on one side, I thought to myself there has to be a Jackrabbit in here. I used my binoculars and sure enough there was, at 100+yards I could barley make out his ears so I stalked in staying very low to the ground. As I slowly made my way into a 60 yard range using the bushes as my cover, making sure he had no view of me.

jackrabbit area

The Jackrabbit was a medium sized one but still the only good opportunity I had seen all day so I went for it in the kneeling position. After a few moments I raised the gun, aligned the dot a bit below his head and squeezed the trigger,”THWACK” instant poof of fur and blood.

jackrabbit kill

To me it looked like I had shot a can of red spray paint is best I can describe. The Jackrabbit actually got flung backwards around 5 feet from the impact.

jackrabbit headshot

The Slayer is just plain devastating and I was shocked by the damage the 125 gr pellet did, the impact went into the neck and came close to decapitating the head completely. I can honestly say its been a long time since I’ve had to put that much work into making a kill but it was well worth it just to see what that guns capable of. The use of a dot sight on a Big Bore such as the Slayer actually surprised me on how well it functioned. Aquisitioning the rifle to target was much faster than with a scope and too was much easier to see in low light conditions along with loosing the weight of the overall rifle. The dot sight is a great system for someone looking to hunt at closer ranges out to 100 yards such as predator hunting and even deer. The obvious downside of a dot sight is lack of magnification and reliance on batteries to function. Anyone looking for a Bull-pup with loads of power in a lightweight, easy handling with reliability and good looks,this is it.

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HUNTING WITH A CUSTOM EVANIX RAINSTORM

I had a few days off from building guns so I took the time for a much needed hunt in the high desert. My Marauder is all torn down and getting some love so I decided to grab a custom .30 RainstormII from the shop that was built by Tom Costan. The rifle has a tensioned TJ enterprises barrel, modified valve, and full Slayer shroud and LDC. It will run pellets or slugs just as well, too is laser  accurate at 100+ yards, current tune is 80+ fpe on 44gr JSB’s. My other reason for taking the gun was to sight it in for Ron as this will be his new hunting kit.

high desert sunrise

I arrived to my hunting spot a bit later as it was very cold and I had wanted to zero in the gun a bit before hand. I spent about 20 minutes getting everything right as well as familiarizing myself with the feel and use of the gun. By this time it was around 9:30 am and I headed into my usual loop that usually takes me about 4 hours.

desert joshua trees

It took awhile but I finally saw a few Jackrabbits off in the distance several hundred yards away. When I spot them I usually try and close myself into range and hope not to spook them. I had been lucky as the ground was soft and there was a slight breeze, this helps in getting closer. I was able to get within 85 yards of a good size one that looked as though he was missing part of his ear.

jackrabbit hiding

I lined up my shot between some Joshua trees and was able to take a real clean head-shot that put the Jackrabbit down with authority.

evanix jackrabbit kill

Nothing like the THUMP of a .30 pellet hitting bone, I could tell it hit very hard!! I had a great little solo hunt and can only hope for more very soon. Overall the Evanix Rainstorm is a great side-lever hunting rifle that carries with it a good amount of quality for its price point.

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SLAYERS MEET THE HIGH DESERT

Hey guys, I had another great weekend with the American Air Arms Slayer. SteveO was finally able to get loose for a few hours Saturday morning to do some hunting with me. We started our drive to the desert at 5:00 am and arrived at sometime after 6:15 to a new spot that I had previously scouted several days before. I had brought two .357 bull-pups with one being the titanium tube long version with the shorter one being the more compact tactical version.

.357 slayer

SteveO was happy to be able to get out and do some filming and to do some shooting with the Slayer. We filled the guns and loaded the mags with some 125 grain pellets that I personally love in the gun, they are accurate and move fast at over 1000 fps. SteveO and I walked several miles into the sunrise looking for the amber ears and possibly some coyotes as well.

hunting with the slayer

The area was slow but did offer a few shots on some running jacks at over 150 or so yards. We soon spotted some small golden mantel ground squirrels that in the wind offered quite the challenge. We shot a few of them capturing the overkill on video, should be fun to see once its edited. By this time it was near 8:30 am as we moved back to the truck for a break and to refill the guns with air and pellets that had been provided by John from Pelletgarden.com. SteveO took quite a few shots with his gun that was equipped with a Leapers Accushot and an offset mounted dot sight that proved to be a pretty cool setup for long and short ranges.

.357 slayer

His reaction to the gun is that it felt similar to shooting an AR-15 but without the noise. He also couldn’t believe how FAST the pellet can get out to 100+yards. We continued the same loop as before, walking slowly and stopping frequently looking for any movement. As we were talking a Jackrabbit sprung up from a bush several feet away from me, by the time I raised my gun as he was at full sprint at 60 yards, lined up less than a foot in front of him and THWACK….He flung down and tumbled to a stop. The entry was through his buttox and most likely made its way through most of the body.

.357 slayer jackrabbit kill

Cant wait till the video is done to see again in slow motion, taking a running shot with an air rifle is something I would not attempt with many guns. The Slayer performs like a dream and the more I shoot it the more I love it. The problem is the gun may have ruined it for me, after shooting it, everything else seems like a cap gun. SteveO and I made our way back to the truck and moved to a different location, this area provided more long range view. We hiked to the high point of an area that offers great line of sight and more of an open area to spot movement. We soon spotted another Jackrabbit hopping at 150 yards, lead the shot ahead of him and fired…..THUNK…missed by what looked like not much with a huge plume of dust kicked up…That gun truly is a powerhouse, amazing how quick that pellet gets to the target after trigger is pulled. The day had ended and certainly didn’t leave us without any excitement. We will be doing some more hunts very soon along with something a bit different. Here is a link to SteveOs YouTube channel dreamhobbies where you can find the video of our hunt.

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FX BOBCAT .30 GROUND SQUIRREL HUNT

I had the great privilege of meeting another Airgunner and getting out to do some Ground Squirrel hunting. Napoleon and I met up early Friday morning at around 6:45 am and proceeded to the hunting area around 7:00. This was my first time getting to shoot with someone who had nicer stuff than I, so I was to say the least a little intimidated by a FX .30 Bobcat with a 6-24 Sidewinder on it.

fx Bobcat .30 and Marauder .22

I have to say right off the bat Napoleon was humble and as a true passionate Airgunner as I. We both walked a short ways from our vehicles towards a large rock that overlooks a canyon with Ground Squirrel holes anywhere from 60 yards out to 144 yards. I have frequented this area for over 30 years and know the area better than most. Years ago the area had been hunted quite heavily and has in the past been visited by well known hunters such as Jim Chapman and Tofazfou. Over the years I have taken a good share of kills on this mountain and find it to be one of my favorite Ground Squirrel areas.

FX .30 Bobcat

The day was quite windy with gust up to 30 mph, which is quite normal for this area this time of year. We set up on the rock and proceeded to locate the best targets that all seemed to be around 95 to 124 yards away. Napoleon used his binoculars and rangefinder to make the appropriate mill-dot adjustments with the help of Chairgun.

Napoleon glassing for ground squirrels

I ended up getting one as he poked his head out of a hole next to a rock outcropping and then Napoleon quickly WALLOPED one soon after. The .30 pellet really is a great choice when it comes to this type of hunting where you have wind and ranges that even a .25 may find difficult.

Bobcat .30 and Marauder .22 ground squirrel kills

You definitely know when you hit something with a .30 as it holds its energy even at long range. We decided to take a break for about 20 minutes to let the Ground Squirrels settle down and forget about us, as we walked back up the hill I took one at around 70 yards.

Dana Webb with his .22 Marauder

After our 20 minute break we sat on the rock and spotted a few at 124 yards, I got another one there and then Napoleon made and amazing head-shot on a juvenile in 30 mph wind at 124 yards.

Napoleon is a great marksman and uses that gun for exactly what its made for. I ended up leaving around 2:00 feeling great, didn’t pump once the whole day either because he was kind enough to let me top off with his tank. I encourage you guys to seek out members near you to hunt or shoot with,great way to learn and make new friends that share your interest.

Thank you Gateway to Airguns for starting the members map.

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TRAPMASTER 1100 COTTONTAIL HUNT

I had a great day getting out yesterday trying my hand at Cottontail hunting with John. We headed out late afternoon and arrived to our location around 5:30 pm, just in time for it to cool down as it’s been very hot. I had brought my trusty .22 Marauder and John brought his vintage “Crosman Trapmaster 1100” loaded with custom swaged .375 pellets.

John with Trapmaster 1100

I was excited to say the least to try this gun as I had never really seen an air powered shotgun before, this little gun is a blast to shoot and had decent power for being a CO2 gun. Soon after a bit of plinking I had spotted a small Cottontail moving off into the distance so John and I moved as quietly as possible towards it trying to keep several yards between us. These Cottontail’s are elusive creatures and even with my good eyes are very difficult to spot among the thick gray brush and thickets. John and I walked in big giant circle and finally decided to head down into a big open flat area with dense bushes about waist high.

John hunting

We saw little activity other than a few birds and too at this point the sun was just beginning to set over the mountaintop, so light was getting less by the minute. Soon out of the corner of my eye I saw John stop, he raised his gun and fired with that distinctive THWAAAP sound. I asked John if he had gotten it and he said “Yes” excitedly, from 30 yards away too. What a great shot considering the light conditions and the fact he was using open sights with no buttstock. The .375 pellets work much better for this application than the standard load of shot that the gun was originally designed to use.

Trapmaster 1100

Trapmaster 1100 pellet

John and I both were very excited as we now felt that long drive had been worth our while, so many trips with nothing to bring home. Over the years I have learned just to enjoy being out hunting with friends and not to expect to bag anything. After a short hike back to the vehicle we were on our way home with the memories of yet another adventure.

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HUNTING WITH THE CROSMAN MK1 LD

Several weeks ago I had ventured into our nearby NF to an area I have frequented for over 30 years. The past years have been scarce with Ground Squirrels due to hunting pressure and the drought. This area is a popular attraction in the Spring for viewing poppies and several other varieties of wildflowers.

The area I was hunting had many fallen logs and rock outcroppings that make the perfect habitat for the California Ground Squirrel.

After hiking around for awhile I decided to take a break and relax under the large Oak Trees that covered most of the mountains.

While sitting eating my lunch I could see Ground Squirrels running back and fourth between holes and even sunning themselves on rocks and logs. This area has been so frequently hunted that only a small pocket of hunt-able areas have been left. Getting close to these Squirrels would prove a challenge as they are very “skittish” little creatures. My weapon of choice for this hunt was the regulated Crosman MK1 LD with carbine stock, great squirrel gun out to 75 yards.

I watched this squirrel run in and out of the same hole and was able to set myself close within 30 yards to make a nice clean kill.

After taking a break for a few minutes I hiked across a little ravine where I could see some more fallen logs and tree stumps that to me looked like great habitat for Ground Squirrels. The grass was so tall and lush that sitting in it was quite pleasant and too provided good cover for me to crawl closer to a few of the holes I spotted. After about 10 minutes of waiting I saw a few Chipmunk’s moving back and fourth over a fallen tree branch. These little things are lightning fast and have superb camouflage, the only obvious part about them is they’re constantly moving tail. As I sat in the tall grass, 45 yards away from them with a few overhanging branches keeping me in the shade to make my shot.

The Crosman MK1 LD is by far one of my favorite Squirrel hunting guns capable of making shots that some rifles may find difficult. Too, the gun gets near 130+ regulated shots making it great for all day hunts like this one. By this time it was late afternoon and time again to leave this sacred mountain where I felt so much at home. On to the next adventure I hope to share more of very soon!

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Airgun Hunting With A Dog

A few people have asked about the dog I use for Jackrabbit hunting, a 3 year old Dachshund/Lab mix named Marley. I have used dogs growing up for hunting rabbits, hares and birds quite often over the years. Marley is very unique as some may consider her breed a house dog, she is simply not the case at all. The standard size dachshund was developed to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature dachshund was bred to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits. In the United States, they have also been used to track wounded deer and hunt prairie dogs. Marley is a Lab mix that adds to her hunting ability being fairly larger and too very good at retrieving and swimming if need be. This mixed breed has more of the temperament and strength of a Lab but obviously being so short she has a much easier time getting in under cover more easily and too being so small can stalk better. The downfall of her size as a hunting dog is I need to sometimes keep her close as shes susceptible to birds of prey and other predators. In some areas I will even leash her for these reasons as I have had birds stoop on her in the open plains.

Marley and Dana hunting with the .357 Slayer

I first started Airgun hunting with her about a year ago and found that she was very natural at it, needing very little work making her safe around a gun. She quickly learned what a gun was and too what it was capable of, seeing me take several Cottontails and Jackrabbits excited her. After taking her on several hunts she began to learn that when I aimed the gun and fired it she could hear the “hit” and go that direction finding a kill. I would let her get familiar with the scent of the animal and too familiarize her with the areas they are found. Before I knew it she was spotting them before me and getting really good at it.

Marley with a Cottontail kill

We had spent several months hunting by ourselves before I felt comfortable bringing another hunter along with us. I wanted to make sure that she was 100% safe and followed all commands such as STAY, HERE and GO AHEAD. The first word is STAY and that means I want her to stay where she is and wait for me. The second word is HERE and that means I want her to stay by my side within several feet and sometimes be on a leash if I feel predators may be in the vicinity. The third word is GO AHEAD and that means I want her to seek out animals by scent, sight or by flushing them. After working with her and giving rewards when she follows a command it became much more natural for us both and became almost automatic and in some cases she would just know what to do. We sometimes would just sit and wait with both of us watching the hillsides for activity.

I remember our first successful hunt together and how excited and happy she was to finally get a kill on a very large Jackrabbit that we took down at 85 yards. We were hiking across a dry river bed up into a thick brush-line where we spotted a Jackrabbit running up an embankment. I took my shot leaving a very loud THWACK that was very identifiable sending Marley at full speed up the hill to make sure it was expired and to retrieve.

After several more hunts I ended up feeling comfortable enough to invite Terry to join us and too for Marley to get familiar with being around other hunters. Her safety was my number one concern so I kept her close to my side for the first few minutes just to let her see that we now had “two” guns in use. Pretty soon I was comfortable letting her GO AHEAD and to now be able to assist us both in locating some Jackrabbits. Marley and Terry became friends very quickly and sometimes she would walk with him for awhile.

Marley was soon getting very good at what she does.

 

After awhile she was joining us on several hunts where we ventured deep into the back-country for days at a time camping in some very unforgiving terrain.

One of our hunting trips took us miles from camp where her and I killed several Jackrabbits from over several hundred yards away, some of the retrievals she made were from rocky hillsides and thick brush.

Using an Airgun to hunt with is difficult enough so having some help from a well trained dog like Marley makes hunting a whole lot more enjoyable. The nice part about using an Airgun is the noise levels are much lower than with a traditional firearm, this makes it enjoyable for both me and the dog. Here is a kill we made using a .357 Slayer Big Bore Airgun, she loves this gun as much as I do.

I hope my writing may open some eyes to look towards a dog as a valuable hunting tool, I know Marley has really brought some light into my hunting adventures. She has become a valuable companion and the best hunting buddy I’ve ever known.

 

 

 

 

 

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GROUND SQUIRREL & COTTONTAIL HUNT

 The area we choose for the hunt was in the foothills of the Sequoia forest and offered a very secluded private hunting location with target rich Ground Squirrel and Cottontail habitat. We left to hunt very early Friday morning and arrived in the forest by 7:00 am with the forecast calling for a very hot weekend.

 

The spot we camped was in a huge valley with Oak trees, rocks and rivers flowing on several sides offering a large abundance of animal and plant life. SteveO and I did a big hunt here in the beginning of Spring so we were both very familiar with the hotspots and the lay of the land that stretches for several thousand acres. Most of the area is untouched by hunting pressure as the location is hidden in very rough terrain and during winter almost impossible to reach. After showing Terry, Jessi and Ray a few of the spots we all set out to hunt throughout the area. By this time it was approaching the high 80’s and only getting hotter up over 100 degrees by 1:00 pm.

Within several minutes of hunting I had already killed several Ground Squirrels and too could hear the catcher mit sound in the distance of others having some luck as well. After several hours of hunting we all eventually ended back at camp where we were sheltered from the heat with the canopy of pine trees our campsite was nestled under.

We sat around talking about our shots, drinking loads of water and having our lunch. The hunting was a bit slow and it was much to hot to be wandering around so Terry set up some targets at various ranges for us all to shoot and plink at.

Ray and Jessi had brought several very cool guns for us all to shoot and have some fun with. I was perfectly content sitting in the shade with a nice cold soda and shooting at a bottle I had placed at 137 yards. Was nice to have the time to just have fun with some very cool group of Airgunners.

Around 5:00 pm we decided to head out again and were pleasantly surprised by how many Ground Squirrels were out and about, I managed to get 13 by the days end with the total between all of us being in the high 30’s.

Ray and his WAR tuned .25 Marauder (below)

Around 6:30 pm we all headed back to set up our tents and to place out our chairs to just relax and enjoy each others company, still hot around 88 degrees. Into the evening it became cooler and too being so far from any light pollution offered an amazing view of the stars. The heat had exhausted me just enough that day to make sleeping in it easier than I thought it would be, by 3:30 am it was a low of 77 degrees. We all got up fairly early and set out to hunt where within minutes Ray made a nice Cottontail kill at around 35 yards.

Everyone by this time was having great luck, Jessi (below) got 4 Ground Squirrels and a Cottontail as well.

We hiked around and each seemed to be finding more and more active areas, Ray and I hiked around and found a very active area where I was able to take 5 of them. Terry was doing well too with a nice kill on several Ground Squirrels and Cottontail with his double tube Prod.

By this time it was getting hot again so we all decided to pack up and make the long journey back up and out of the valley. This was one of the most memorable trips of my life and will never forget the great time we all shared together. Thanks for reading and hope to have some more trips very soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SLAYER & FRIENDS HUNT THE HIGH DESERT

Went to the high desert yesterday to hunt with Jessi (Lefty) and to meet Ray later on in the morning. Jessi and I arrived early at 4:15 am to set up our kits and hike into the hunting area.

I was using the American Air Arms .357 Slayer and Jessi was using his .22 Cricket Bullpup. We hiked several hundred yards from the truck and waited for the sun to come up hoping to view the amber ears in the distance. We walked around for a bit and I spotted a Jackrabbit ears at 150+ yards but they soon disappeared behind the thick foliage of Joshua trees.

By this time it was close to 7:00 am and we packed up to go meet Ray and his collection of Marauders at another location. Spent a bit of time hanging out and shooting a few of the guns he brought including a .25 Prod conversion.

We all spread out about 40 yards apart and walked towards the North looking for some Jackrabbits moving through the trees, I soon spotted one at 65 yards and was able to take him with the Slayer. What a mess that .357 138 grain (John Cripe) made pellet made.

We continued our walk and I soon spotted some amber ears at 60 yards, took aim with the Slayer and THWACK, a 3′ long trail of blood. I had wondered why my aim was a bit off and soon noticed I had made the dumb mistake of loading the magazine backwards,not sure how other than just not paying attention.

By this time it was about 10:00 am and getting fairly hot, Jackrabbits by now were taking refuge in the shade and much harder to find. This desert is very unforgiving to animals and requires a lot of water to survive. Jessi came across a sheep that wasn’t so lucky!

I had already taken two Jackrabbits so I wanted to focus my energy on helping Ray make his first Jackrabbit kill. I manned the binoculars and picked a spot near where I had made a previous 200 yard kill,offering a good amount of sight and open fields.

Ray was eager to learn and followed close behind as I was able to stalk within 95 yards of what I thought was just one Jackrabbit. We got within range when I noticed one run away leaving one more in a still position to make a shot, Ray aimed his .25 Marauder and made a flawless head-shot at 95 yards. I was as excited as he was being able to witness his first Jackrabbit kill, that smile was well worth the whole day of the trip.

By this time it was approaching 3:00 pm and we were getting lots of sun and very exhausted from our hiking around in the heat.

Jessi was having great luck with the ground squirrels and by this time had killed 6, some as far as 100 yards away. We continued for about another hour when I spotted a small size Jackrabbit that left me with a good 100 yard shot to the head.

The day had ended and we were all left with great memories and may have learned a few things as well.

 

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FOUR TOUGH GROUND SQUIRREL HUNTERS

Got up at 4:30 Saturday morning and waited for 3 other ground squirrel hunters: Jessi, Napoleon and Baxter. Jessi met me at my house to carpool into the mountains where we planned to meet the other 2 guys. Jessi and I arrived a bit early so we decided to do some scouting for some active Ground Squirrel holes that we could hit once the sun came out.

 

Napoleon and Baxter arrived, and after some fellowship we decided to start our hunt several miles into the forest where I had seen some activity in prior months. We walked around and sat for about an hour before realizing the place had been shot out by other hunters or simply had too small of a population, very disappointing.

Napoleon with his Evanix Rainstorm (above) Baxter with his Hatsan AT44 Tac (below) waiting for some action.

We drove from spot to spot throughout the day, and stopping frequently using all 10 of our eyes looking for Ground Squirrels in the distance sunning themselves. Baxter spotted one approx. 265 yards away up on a rock. He decided to stalk and for that I give him much credit for trying. The location was quite far and not easy to hide well, that Ground Squirrel was gone needless to say leaving Baxter with a few kills on some chipmunks at least.

The last spot we went to was an area I had a few kills on weeks before and felt this would be our last resort to some payoff to our long day of driving and hiking. I was beat and mind you I was the youngest in our group, I give Jessi, Baxter and Napoleon credit for the amount of ground they covered.

We split up in pairs North and South hoping to have more of a chance spotting the squirrels, I had a great feeling about this place as it had active holes and fallen rotting logs along with giant rock outcroppings throughout the hillsides.

Jessi and I soon spotted two Ground Squirrels running in the distance and soon after that 6 more. Never have I seen Ground Squirrel’s act so skittish, an obvious sign this area has put a lot of hunting pressure on them.

I ended up killing three with only one body recovered, I however made a pretty good shot at 60 yards through a hollowed out log and right through the neck of a Ground Squirrel. Jessi made two kills with none recovered although did leave a large blood trail on one heading into a hole.

Baxter and Napoleon found an area near a road where they spotted two very large adult Ground Squirrels where Napoleon made a kill with his Rainstorm at 75 yards.

This area had been very active in the past but just seemed shot out, gets frustrating when you have 4 experienced ground squirrel hunters and only a few kills over a whole day. The best part was to spend it with other Airgunners and too enjoy the scenery of this beautiful location.