Most of the snow we got a week or so ago has melted off, so I hit the woods today with my .22 caliber Discovery, to do a bit of Abert's Tree Squirrel hunting. This rifle never ceases to amaze me. It shoots the 15.9 grain JSB Exacts into a tiny bug hole at 30 yards. I have it adjusted to give me 15 shots, and it does that with only a 5 fps extreme spread. I picked it up from Mac1, right after they became available, and I have not been disappointed.
I hunted an area that I had scouted this past summer on a, "I need to get the heck out of town for awhile," kind of day. At the time, I saw a good amount of squirrel sign in the area, so today I paid it another visit, to see what I might find. When I stepped out of my vehicle, I was hit by the smell of pure fresh air heavily scented with pine, the sun was shining, and the temp was 54 degrees. It had all of the makings of a great Fall day in the woods. Just perfect for a squirrel hunt.
The area I hunted, is a ridge top that runs for a couple of miles before it drops down and meets with the edge of a local lake. It's fairly open, with a lot of middle-aged and mature Ponderosa Pines. This can be good Abert's Tree Squirrel country.
I hadn't gone very far, when I hit a game trail that followed along the crest of the ridge. When possible, I love to hunt along game trails. The deer and elk seem to instinctively know how to go cross country, with the least amount of exertion. As I hunted along, I started to see fresh pine needle clusters under some of the trees. The squirrels clip those, and then eat the tender under bark from the stem.
I immediately started to slowly scan the surrounding trees for movement, or the profile of a squirrel against the sky. Sure enough, about twenty minutes into the hunt, I spot the profile of a squirrel up high in a Ponderosa Pine.
This guy is sitting dead still, out near the end of a branch, about 40 feet up an 80 foot pine. He lasers at 39 yards. I line up the shot, hold a little low, and slowly squeeze the trigger. When the shot breaks, he swaps ends, but doesn't run off. Close, but no cigar. I was just high. I load up another pellet, and repeat step one, only this time I hold an RCH lower. The pellet impacted with that loud THWACCKK, that we love to hear, and down he comes. Bounced once. Dead On Arrival. The JSB dome heads perform to perfection once again.
I picked up my trophy, put it in my game pouch, and headed on down the trail. It wasn't long before I spotted a suspicious looking lump near the top of another pine. I put my binoculars on it, and just as I suspected, it was another Abert's squirrel sitting back in the shadows, trying to blend in with the surroundings.
The range finder said 41 yards on this one, but at an even steeper up angle. Based on the last shot at the first squirrel, I held low on the chest, and touched off the shot. At pellet impact, this guy instantly started dropping out of the tree. I think he hit, and spun around every branch in his path on the way down. He hit the ground with a nice soft thud, and never moved. The pellet had entered just under the chin, and exited between the shoulder blades. I gathered him up, and together with the first squirrel, stopped for a quick photo op.
It was starting to get late in the day, the temp was dropping, and I had a bit of a drive to get back to the hacienda, so I started to hunt my way back to my vehicle. I didn't spot another squirrel on the way out, but I was thrilled to have the two that I did get.
This little rifle is a definite keeper. As usual, I didn't need anywhere near the 15 shots the gun gives me. The squirrel limit here is five, and when the day comes that I can't do that with seven or eight shots, I'm selling my guns.