Spring time in the mountains of Northern Arizona is a pretty special time of year. We have four distinct seasons here. The winters aren't really bad, but when spring rolls around, we're ready to enjoy it.
In the area that I live, I'm surrounded by about four million acres of incredibly beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest. At this high elevation, and with limited rain fall, there is very little in the way of brushy vegetation on the forest floor.
In many areas, a hike in the woods is like a walk in a rural park. I especially like the spring, because it's the season of renewal. All of the vegetation comes forth with new growth, and a wide variety of wildflowers start making their brief appearances again.
It's a great time to get out into the countryside, and enjoy the new beauty of the season. Of course, since I hunt with airguns, any walk in the woods just wouldn't be complete without bringing one of those along.
For this hunt, I went to an area in the forest that is at about 8500 foot elevation. Spring comes later at high elevations in the mountains. The local Gambel Oaks are just starting to leaf out, and many of the early season wildflowers are just starting to bloom. The temperature has finally broken into the low 70's, and it's a perfect time to spend a spring day afield.
The day wasn't so much about ground squirrel hunting, as it was about just enjoying a nice day in the woods. At one point, I spotted a coyote trying to dig a squirrel or chipmunk out of its den under an old pine stump. Since I was down wind, I decided to see how close I might be able to get to it.
When I spotted the coyote, I was a lasered 137 yards away. By using oaks and pine trees for cover, I was able to get to within 68 yards. The wind shifted, and as soon as he got my scent, the interest in that ground squirrel or chipmunk went to zero, and the afterburners kicked in. Boy, can those things cover some ground in a hurry when motivated. I had no intention of taking a shot at him, but it was a fun little adventure while it lasted.
It was a really nice day. I was shooting my AA 510 carbine again. I wound up getting a few ground squirrels, and a couple of 60 plus yard chipmunks. Hunting ground squirrels in the forest around here is not a high volume type shoot, it is definitely a hunt. If I get five or six, I've had a pretty good day. I love just being out in the forest though, you never know what you might see, and any squirrels I get are icing on the cake.
It was a pretty low intensity type hunt. Mostly it was just a leisurely walk in the woods, with a bit of critter shooting thrown in for good measure.
I did shoot a bit of video along the way. Below are some of those clips. They run about 4 minutes, and may take 20 to 30 seconds to load.
I just mounted a Leupold 3-9x33mm scope on my RWS Rapier PCP, so I'm thinking it's going to be her turn, the next time I head out for high elevation ground squirrels.