I wanted to hunt an area that I have driven through several times while on my way to another spot. It is fairly flat, with a nice mix of mature and younger Ponderosa pines.
After four wheeling into to the area, using a 100 year old logging road, I got my gear set up and started to hunt. One of the fun things about hunting tree squirrels here, is the fact that there are varmints in the form of a couple of types of ground squirrels and chipmunks, that are legal to hunt at the same time, and that makes for a fun day no matter what.
These Abert's tree squirrels, for the most part, are rather solitary critters and don't hang around in groups. You really have to get out into the forest and dig them out. During the process of doing that, it is really fun to hunt for the other critters at the same time, and one of the advantages of doing it with a quiet air rifle is, there is no muzzle blast to send other furballs into hiding.
The golden Mantle ground squirrel is about one fifth the size of our local tree squirrels, and the chipmunks around here are about one tenth the size of the tree squirrels. The chipmunk population has exploded this year. They are everywhere in great numbers. We live on the edge of the forest, and it is a constant challenge to keep them out of the walls of the house, and from under the foundation and sidewalks.
One of the side benefits of hunting the available vermin, at the same time I'm hunting tree squirrels, is the fact that they are a fraction of the size, more plentiful, and make for more difficult shots. It's excellent practice. The shots are at the same distances that I typically get on the tree squirrels, so by the time I get my crosshairs on one of them, in comparison to ground squirrels and chipmunks, they look to be about the size of a small dog.
I had been hunting for about two hours, picking off vermin here and there along the way, when I spotted an Abert's tree squirrel on the ground about 80 yards away. I'm sighted in at 50 yards, so I wanted to close the range some before taking my shot. I decided to put a pine tree between me and the squirrel, and move up closer.
When I was behind the closer tree, I snuck a peek to see if the squirrel was still there. It was nowhere to be seen. There was a cluster of six mature Ponderosa pines there, and the squirrel had been at the base of these trees on the ground. I figured it had gone up one of those trees, but which one I didn't know. Now the hunt really began.
I rested my .25 Marauder on my Stoney Point bipod, and for the next fifteen, twenty minutes, I glassed each tree from bottom to top, and back down. On my second pass through, I spotted the squirrel about 40 feet up a 90 foot pine, sitting on a stub of an old broken branch in the shade, frozen in place and watching me.
I shot a range to it, and it came back at 63 yards. There was no wind, so I held a little high, with no hold off, and launched a 27.8 grain Benjamin pellet on it's way for an upper chest shot. I heard the pellet impact, the squirrel jumped and headed left on a branch for about five feet, and tumbled out of the tree. It was dead when it hit the ground. The first Abert's of the year is a female of about medium size. I picked her up, took a picture, put her in my game pouch and resumed hunting.
A little while later, I spotted one more at a little over 100 yards, but it disappeared into the forest canopy, and I never got a shot. The limit on these guys is five. That doesn't sound like many, but as tough as they are to come by, it's more than enough, and the difficult challenge of hunting them is very satisfying.
This video may take 20/30 seconds to load, and runs 2 minutes 57 seconds.