Where I live, I'm surrounded by about 4 million acres of National Forest. One of the challenges is to decide where to hunt next. I enjoy the exploring all most as much as the hunting. For this hunt I headed about thirty miles east of town, and took an old logging road that I hadn't been down yet.
There is a lot of forest out there that isn't good ground squirrel country, but if you get out and scout, you'll find some good spots. One of my self imposed rules is, I never hunt the same area more than twice in a given year. That spreads the hunting load, and also motivates me to explore and scout for new spots.
The first mile or so of the road that I chose, didn't look all that promising. The pine trees were fairly young, small, and very, very close together. No sign of the area ever having been logged either. I'm looking for areas that have a mix of young and old trees, not to close together, and preferably, having been logged over about 80 to 100 years ago. Ground squirrels love to build their dens under those old stumps.
As I got farther down the road though, the trees started to get larger, and the area became more open. The good news was, I started to see a lot of old stumps that were left from the area having been logged many decades ago. Off to my right, the area opened up into a fairly flat basin. On my left, there was a gradual rise for about 150 yards, that topped out onto a flat plateau. It also had a lot of old stumps. Man, this spot was really looking promising.
As I'm slowly driving, and checking out the area, a ground squirrel runs across the road in front of me. Okay, I can take a hint, no question I'm going to stop and spend some time hunting this spot.
I drive along another two or three hundred yards, until the road starts to make a turn to the east. The good looking area on my left, that I had just driven through, ran for maybe 600/800 yards. I decided to park and hunt along the slope back toward where I had just come from.
I got my gear out and ready to go. I've been hunting my .22 cal Disco lately, and it has been a major blast.
The first thing I do after checking my zero, is to take a quick look around the area with my binoculars, to see if maybe any squirrels are showing themselves. Nothing happening this time, so I start up the slope into the forest.
After about 40 yards, I stop and glass the area again. BINGO! Sure enough, sitting on a stump, partially concealed by the branches of a small pine, is ground squirrel number one. My Leica 1200 ranger finder indicates 42 yards. I'm sighted in dead on at 40, and there isn't much of a breeze, so for this shot I just hold a little high on its head and squeeze the trigger. THWOCK......DRT, on the top of the stump.
After the successful shot, I did what I always do before heading over to the squirrel, and that is to glass the area again. It's amazing how many times the sound of the gun going off, or the THWOCK of a pellet impacting a squirrel, will make other squirrels pop up to see what that sound was.
The Discovery does not come with a moderator, so when it goes off, it has a bit of a bark. To my ears, it's not anywhere near as loud as my .22lr rifles are, but still, it has a bit of a pop to it. I love it, because it's just loud enough to peak the curiosity of any other squirrels that might be in the area, and many times they will expose themselves to see where the sound came from.
That's exactly what happened here. As I'm glassing the area again, I spot another ground squirrel off to my left, sitting on a stump watching me, and better yet, there is a second one almost directly behind the first one, maybe ten yards farther out.
I shoot a range to the closest one, and it comes back at 45 yards. I do the same to the second one, and it comes back at 57 yards. Now, in my experience, If I drop the one in front first, there is a real good chance that the one in the rear, seeing the one in front get hammered, is going rabbit on me.
It doesn't always work out, but I'm going to take the one in back first. There's a little left to right breeze working, so I nudge the verticle crosshair over to the left side of the furball, and move the horizontal crosshair to where there is about an inch of daylight showing between it and the top of the squirrels head. I grabbed a couple of nice deep breaths, let the second one about half out, and sent the 16 grain JSB on her way.
NICE! At pellet impact, the furball rolled backwards off the top of the stump, and just as I had hoped would happen, the one on the stump in front of it was still there. I fished another pellet out of the pouch I wear around my neck, racked the bolt open on the Disco, dropped the pellet into the receiver, closed the bolt and lined up on the second squirrel.
We still had the same breeze working, so once again I held on the left edge, but this time for 45 yards, I just put the horizontal crosshair on the top of the squirrels head and squeezed the trigger. Got the same result as the first two shots. Another ground squirrel DRT.
Amazing, I don't think five minutes had passed since I left my vehicle, and the Disco had dropped three squirrels. I took a few minutes to gather them up for a quick photo-op.
I finished up the photo-op, and continued slowly hunting along the slope. Sure enough, I had gone maybe 75 yards when I spot another squirrel on a stump at a lasered 49 yards. Missed him with the first shot, but he didn't budge, big mistake, and I dropped it with the second pellet.
By this time, it was mid afternoon and I was feeling pretty hot, so I decided to head back to my vehicle, grab a Gatorade, sit in the shade, and just chill for the rest of the afternoon.
At this point in my life, hunts aren't so much about high body counts as much as they are about just being out in nature, with a favorite air rifle, doing what I love to do at a leisurely pace. Most of the time, I spend more time just taking in the sights and sounds of the forest, than I do actually hunting.
It was another really fun outing with my Disco. This little rifle performs way above what you would expect, especially considering its low cost.
Squirrel below, taken at 49 yards. I'm always impressed with how their colors are perfect for blending them into their surroundings.
As I was heading out to the area I was going to hunt, I passed this small group of elk crossing a shallow lake in the area. They were a good 800+ yards away. Never know what one might see around here.