LATE WINTER VARMINT HUNT – Overnight Adventure
The Winter months here can be brutally cold that in turn makes most all of the hunting pretty much non existent, especially for any type of varmints. Last month we had about a week of warmer temperatures that gave some inspiration to get out and visit a new permission. This area was quite remote and offered several thousand acers of property to roam and hunt on. We loaded up Terry’s truck with three days worth of gear including a very large bell style tent that would keep us comfortable.
We made through the entrance to the ranch around 9:00am where we still had a short distance to travel to our camping area. We found a great spot under one of few Pine trees, perfect area to camp and set up the shooting bench.
Before every hunt, especially after traveling down some bumpy roads I always like to check my zero and get some practice in before heading out to hunt. Terry and I set some targets out from 30 yards out to 150 yards, ranges we had anticipated we would be hunting at.
I brought the Daystate Redwolf Safari in .30 caliber for this trip that I had topped off with the Hawke Airmax 4-16×50 that paired well with the Tactacam FTS unit. The Safari is one of my most trusted Airguns for the field and have countless successful trips using it under all conditions.
I like the gun because it’s extremely versatile power wise, durable and very accurate with both pellets and slugs. Airguns Of Arizona outfitted me with this rifle two years ago and I have been very pleased with it’s performance over that time. For this trip I would be using the NSA 47gr slugs that shoot fantastic out of this gun, perfect choice for windy long range conditions. After checking my zero at 75 yards it was time for Terry to get on the bench.
Terry brought his .22 caliber Taipan Mutant, an excellent choice for field carry that has proven itself under heavy conditions over countless trips in the field. After some time spent getting everything set at camp we decided to head out and do a little scouting of the area to see if we could spot some Ground Squirrels.
This area had a ton of rolling hills with sparse vegetation scattered as far as the eye could see, very beautiful and unique location to hunt.
As we walked I could spot several ground squirrels sunning themselves in the distance, most were juveniles with very few adults. The predators such as coyotes and birds of prey keep these squirrels on full alert, especially just before springtime. In winter months this area is very desolate and life is essentially non existent, so the animals that have survived are hungry and eager for any meal that gives opportunity.
I spotted my first victim of the day sitting on some deadfall at just over 75 yards, with a slight breeze I was able to connect with a nice offhand shot.
Terry had a bit of luck himself with a good sized adult at around 60 yards moving about in the open grass.
Marley was super excited to have some action in being able to get out, run and retrieve some of these squirrels. It had been a long and very uneventful winter for her not being able to get out as often.
We weren’t spotting a large amount of ground squirrels but it was a very nice place to just pick a spot, sit down and enjoy the scenery. Terry and I found an area on one of the small foothills that gave us a good view of the surrounding areas as well as a few active holes out to near 200 yards.
While it’s not necessary to use heavy calibers, it does give a pretty good advantage at some of the longer range shots, the 47gr NSA’s near vaporized a few of the ground squirrels. Terry and I stayed fairly busy through the rest of the afternoon and straight into the early evening before heading back to camp.
For this trip we definitely wouldn’t be roughing it with my new Psyclone Tents Outbacker 5m luxury bell tent. As some know I spend a good part of the year out in the field filming for all sorts of different projects as part of my work. I had researched many tents and settled in on this one as it offered fairly easy setup, loads of room for all my gear and is setup for a stove that’s a must have in cold weather.
This area was just beautiful in the evening but the temperature was dropping as the sun made it’s way over the mountain range.
Terry and I prepared the camp for the evening and even brought out the BBQ to cook our dinner. For tonight’s menu we would be having hot links and Mac N Cheese, simple yet filling.
We had a nice relaxing dinner with the ambiance of an active back of coyotes some distance from camp. I will say there’s nothing better as camp food after a long day of hiking around in the sun. After dinner we cleaned up and headed into our portable apartment to fire up the stove and make some coffee.
We hung out for a good few hours enjoying some coffee and the ambiance of the wood stove before turning in for the night.
The following morning was quite windy and much colder than it was the day before, took a bit more work to be motivated to get out and hunt.
Marley and I moved away from camp several hundred yards where I had spotted quite a few active Ground Squirrel holes the day before. From my experience the mornings and early evenings are usually the best time to hunt these animals, especially on warm days. Today was a bit cold but the sun was still out so I was hopeful we may have some luck.
Terry and I found a few opportunities throughout the morning, many were well beyond 100+ yards and the wind certainly wasn’t helping any.
We all stayed pretty busy for the next few hours but it was getting near that time to call it quits, head back and start packing up the camp.
Made one last kill at 84 yards offhand with our total for this trip close to around 25 down, considerably lower than springtime where we usually get several hundred. I really enjoy just getting out and exploring new areas for future trips, this was a fantastic location.
I hope some of you enjoyed this adventure and I encourage you to check out a more detailed look through the enclosed video. Hope to share more when time allows! Cheers
Well written article Dana, you (almost ) take your readers with you.
“Almost” as it would be a bit overcrowded.