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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.

 

 

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BACK COUNTRY AIRGUN HUNT

On Friday November 4th Marley and I left the house at 3:00am to make our way North where we would be spending the next three days. We ventured down the long dirt road that seems to head into nowhere for miles. As we arrived to the area in darkness I parked on top of a mountain where I planned to hunt for several hours while waiting for the other members of our group.

The sun was slowly coming up as Marley and I hiked our way high up onto a mountain hoping to have some good views of the fields below. The area was quite dry with very little green vegetation to be seen, yet still very sustainable to Jackrabbit populations. We sat for awhile and didn’t see any movement besides a few birds and the occasional chatter of a ground squirrel. As it was becoming lighter out I could see a dust cloud from a vehicle moving down the road from miles away, It was SteveO making his way right on time. We got up and made our way down the mountain to join him and too ended up making a failed shot on a Jackrabbit on the way down. As soon as SteveO arrived Terry was soon behind with us deciding to move down into an occupied camping area to relax for a bit and also get our gear ready for the few days of hunting.

After several minutes of setting up camp and getting our guns aired up we set out on foot back up into a nearby canyon that is usually loaded with Jackrabbits. We all went off to separate areas throughout the valley with my preferred area working the brush filled hillsides.

As I’m looking down the hill I can see Terry stalking a Jackrabbit just over the other side of the hill from me, I see him waiving me over as I think he thought the Jackrabbit may come my direction. He ended up tagging the Jackrabbit while making full sprint up the hill, not sure of the yardage but still a great shot.

After another hour of marching around I was able to spot two Jackrabbits moving through the brush, the larger one made a much better target and was taken down at 60 yards with Marley making a swift retrieval. I was using the new American Air Arms EVOL .30 carbine tuned to 85 fpe and too the perfect tool for Jackrabbit hunting. The gun is regulated, lightweight and has a shot-count capable of keeping me in the field all day long. This is my dream gun and one I have been waiting for Tom to build for over two years, I’m in LOVE. ;D

After a few more minutes of hiking back to camp we took a much needed break and to have some lunch before heading back out into the remote hills. After lunch SteveO and I headed back out several miles working the rocky hillsides with Marley finding several Jacks and even a Cottontail that was hidden in the dense brush.

The Cottontails out in this area are quite large and unlike in other areas don’t stop at all once flushed. I think this is because of all the pressure they have due to predators such as birds of prey, Coyotes and Foxes. As we were hiking we spotted quite a few small Ground Squirrels that proved to be very difficult targets as they don’t stay still for very long. SteveO spotted a few and was able to take several of them moving around the rocky hillsides at around 45 yards with his .25 Marauder.

We had made several more attempts at finding some Jackrabbits before heading back to camp before dark. The Jackrabbits I think were feeling the pressure of Marley being able to find them even in the most secluded hiding spots. Watching that little dog work is purely magical as she really is amazing at what she does, sometimes its a little unfair.

As the evening met darkness it became quite chilly out with the distant chatter of Coyotes echoing through the canyon. Marley and I slept soundly in the Jeep and awoke early to greet Tom and his son Nicholas to our camp where they would spend the next two days. Tom and Nicholas had hunted here before so they both were very familiar with the area and too the potentially huge Jackrabbits that find home here. After getting they’re gear ready and guns filled with air we set out again, this time 6 of us.

Tom had brought the New EVOL TAC .30 model rifle to test out, what a sharp looking gun it is. Nicholas was using a regulated bottle fed 22xx platform that was shooting at 30 fpe and has enough air for all day hunting. We ended up all meeting in this canyon where we were shooting at 100+ yards at this white rock, amazing what these modern PCPs are capable of.

After some playing around with the guns we headed back to camp where Terry was sighting in his old .20 Sheridan that he just had steroided. He had mounted a scout scope and planned to do some hunting with it that rest of the day. What a workout it was pumping that old fashioned vintage gun, 6 pumps was giving him 630 fps I believe.

Tom had made his way several miles from camp in a close direction from where I was hunting, I had mentioned I had taken 10 ground Squirrels so he made his way to find a few. Tom had managed to find quite a few of them along with bringing back several wild gourds that later would prove good targets.

Very old tree, one of the only ones seen for many miles.

That afternoon Terry left and the rest of us continued on into the evening by ourselves, I think we were all petty beat from the miles of hiking we all had done. I know Marley was very tired as those little legs had gotten quite the workout mashing through brush and rocky hillsides all day. Poor little thing was pooped ;D

That next morning SteveO had to leave us to get back home before traffic got to bad, was great to have him join us even though it was a quick two days. This morning was quite foggy and really didn’t seem like a very good morning for Jackrabbits, figured we would give it a try before heading out ourselves. Tom,Nicholas and myself headed out for a short hunt, several mile loop that would bring us back just in time for breakfast.

I headed us up into an area I suspected may be full of Jacks and too as a last resort had hoped Tom and Nicholas would have some luck. Here is Tom behind me and Nicholas way in back as we ventured up the steep hillsides.

Many of the times when working areas like this you can spot them moving through the brush in the lower areas, I have good success in hunting this way. I would rather shoot down on them than up as usually they make it over a hill leaving them lost from sight. It didn’t take long for all of us to get some shots on running Jacks, Nicholas came very close to hitting one on the run.

Tom was higher up the side of the mountain and Nicholas and I were lower, we were watching Tom shoot at several of them with Marley hot on the trail. For a few minutes we were all shooting as they were getting sprung from all directions. I’m really glad we checked out this area as I will definitely be back in Springtime when the population is higher and they are more active. We went back to camp and did a little bit of shooting with the EVOLs and even brought out the .357 Slayer for some fun.

This sport has given me so much joy over the years, Its great to see young men like Nicholas getting involved early. These kids are the future of our sport, setting examples and passing it on is the most important thing we can do.

Hope you all can enjoy until our next adventure.