The weather is starting to turn cool here, and the mini varmints will be hibernating soon. I love the challenge of hunting these guys. It takes patience, and a lot of time is spent in the binoculars, carefully scanning the forest's downed trees, stumps, and debris piles that these critters like to hang out in.
It also takes an accurate rifle to have much success. The two main vermin type critters that are the focus of this hunt are, the Cliff's Chipmunk, and the Golden Mantle ground squirrel. They are both small, with the chipmunk being the smaller of the two.
Typical shots will run from around 55 yards, on out to 70. A gun that can shoot sub dime sized groups with its favorite pellet at 50+ yards, is what is needed for this type of hunting. The targets are small, and the ranges are challenging. It's excellent practice for hunting the much larger Abert's tree squirrels at similar distances.
My choice of gun for this hunt, once again, was my .25 caliber Marauder. It has accuracy in spades, and is a ton of fun to hunt with. It also has the power to drop any Abert's Tree Squirrel I may see during the vermin hunt.
I was hunting an area that appears to be an old abandoned homestead. A couple of the buildings, and much of the original barbwire fence are still standing. There is a huge meadow, or park, as they are known around here as, and the forest completely surrounds it. It's an ideal area to hunt these small varmints in.
I got my gear out, and mounted up for the days hunt. The plan was to hunt from the edge of the park, back into the forest for two or three hundred yards. I was maybe 150 yards from my vehicle, when I spotted the first chipmunk at 61 yards sitting on a stump. I'm sighted in dead on at 50 yards, and there was almost no wind. I let a little bit of daylight show between the crosshairs and the top of its head, and launched a 27.8 grain Benjamin dome head pellet on its way. The pellet impact was loud, and it sent the munk flying off of the stump.
As I was working my way over to the first varmint of the day, I was continuing to glass the area and spotted a Golden Mantle ground squirrel sitting on a log at 59 yards. Using essentially the same hold as on the chipmunk, I launched a pellet at the ground squirrel, with the same result. The pellet knocked it off of the log, and it was DRT when I got over to it. I picked it up along with the chipper, and took a quick picture of the two together to show a size comparison.
As I continued to hunt along, I spotted movement out in the park. When I put my binoculars on the area I saw the movement in, I saw a nice band of Pronghorn Antelope about 700 yards away. I shot a bit of video of them, and have included it in with some of the video clips from the hunt. Also, on the way out, at the end of the day, I saw a nice elk herd that I also shot some video of. They were a good 1000/1200 yards away.
I was having good success hunting the edge of the forest. There were a lot of old deadfall trees, stumps, and debris left from when the area was logged many, many, years ago. The chippers and ground squirrels just love that stuff. I continued to drop chippers and ground squirrels along the way.
At one point, I spotted a ground squirrel sitting on a log at 68 yards, it was facing directly at me, I placed the first mildot on its head, and gently squeezed the trigger. The pellet dropped the squirrel in place. Literally, it didn't even fall off of the log. Instant lights out.
I could hear and see thunder and lightening off in the distance. It was heading my way, so I grabbed a quick picture of the squirrel beside my rifle, decided to call it a day, and headed back to my vehicle. I managed to pick off a couple more chipmunks on my way back. The hunt was a lot of fun, with challenging targets, and seeing the band of antelope was frosting on the cake. I had hoped to have a shot or two at an Abert's tree squirrel, but didn't see a one.
The following are some video clips from the hunt. They may take 20/30 seconds to load, and run 3 minutes 58 seconds.