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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.

 

 

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EPIC TWO DAY HIGH DESERT HUNT

I set out with SteveO at 3:30 am Saturday morning to meet Jessi in the high So-Cal desert. We had my truck loaded with water, food and camping gear along with plenty of air and ammo. Our primary purpose was to finish filming a Jackrabbit hunting video and to test out some new pelletguns such as the MrodAir P12 and Cricket.

mrodair-p12

We arrived at our desert hunting area at 6:15 am and proceeded to air up the guns and walk a mile North to the “hotspot.”

The morning was quite warm with a good amount of wind blowing towards the South right into us. As I have hunted the desert quite a bit in wind, and I have found it to be somewhat of an advantage as the Jackrabbits and other creatures cannot hear you over the sound of wind. Within a few minutes of our slow walk we were spotting Jackrabbits moving back and fourth in the distance. Jessi and I hunted while SteveO filmed the action between the both of us, not easy at all. All three of us have been to this location so were quite familiar with the lay of the land and the usual spots the Jackrabbits hide.

We walked about a mile coming to a very large open field with scattered Joshua trees and small scrub bushes where I spotted a large Jack eating some grass out in the open. I was able to make a nice kill on him at 45 yards or so that was captured on video. (pic enclosed)

We continued and headed more North into a large loop back to the vehicles looking for a good flat location to camp. We found a very nice accessible area that was flat and had some Joshua trees to provide some protection from the wind. By this time it was about 10:30 am and in the mid 90’s, too hot to be wandering around so we set up a shade awning. We sat under the shade awning for a few hours to cool down, eat lunch and talk. I had already made a kill so I took my turn following Jessi and SteveO with the camera filming all the action they encountered.

 

The high desert is also home to a large amount of Golden Mantel Squirrels that were very tiny, fast and difficult to spot from a distance. Jessi must have taken quite a few, some as far as 60 yards with a few impressive head-shots.

We continued into the Sunset with quite a bit captured on film. All three of us were exhausted from hiking and carrying our guns all day.

 

The heat really takes a lot out of you and gallons of water is needed to survive this vast desert. The night came and we BBQ hotdogs and sausages along with the largest bag of chips I have ever seen.

 

I slept great and we all awoke around 6:30am to indications of an even hotter day only with no wind or breeze. SteveO did a little more filming as we set out to the usual spots hoping for one particular Jackrabbit that had been eluding us, all three of us missed, frustrating to say the least.

After about an hour I had the camera and was able to film SteveO hit one of the largest Jacks I have ever seen at 45yrds or so. These two guys made some very impressive shots, Jessie even attempted what I believe was 100 yards on a Jackrabbit shading himself under a Joshua tree. On our way back to camp we even spotted a good size Gopher Snake that was on his way crossing the trail, beautiful camo pattern it carried.

 

As we made our way back to camp we were all so exhausted as the heat really takes a toll on the body, while the sand just radiates even as the sun goes down. We all carried loads of water and I will say there is nothing better than a cooler full of ice waiting for you when you need it.

The next morning we packed up camp and moved on down the bumpy washed out road to another location that we thought might offer some opportunity . Together we had an amazing hunt, even had a very surprising encounter with two Coyotes. I had such a great time and am so grateful for the memories, laughter and some great food with friends.