I mentioned awhile back, that it has been too darned warm and humid to get out and do much ground squirrel hunting. At least for me. But rather than waste the days, I've been scouting the forest, in my air conditioned 4x4, for new ground squirrel habitat.
I've got about 4,000,000 acres of forest to hunt in, but only a small percentage of that holds ground squirrels. It takes some time and effort, to get out into the woods, and locate those areas that hold pockets of squirrels.
I really enjoy the exploring part of the hunt. It gets me into areas of the forest that I've never seen, and that's always an adventure.
This time, I headed about 35 miles east of town, and took an old logging road that headed up the side of one of the mountains. No way to tell much about anything from looking at maps. You really have to get out there and put some rubber on the road.
As I headed up the 4x4 track, the immediate countryside looked great for deer and elk, but not much happening as far as ground squirrels were concerned. We have a very large deer and elk population around these parts, and I see a lot of both while prowling these back country roads.
The ground squirrels, on the other hand, have a very specific type of terrain that they prefer. It can't be to densely forested, and there needs to be a population of young, mature, and medium aged pine trees. They can't be to close together, and there needs to be a goodly number of 80 to 100 year old rotting stumps for them to build their dens under. A scattering of old blowdowns and piles of deadfall won't hurt either. The terrain doesn't need to be real flat, some slope is okay, but overly steep doesn't seem to work for these guys at all.
I was about three miles from the pavement, still climbing, and hadn't really seen any country that looked promising at all. At this point, my mind starts playing the usual games like, "well this is going to turn out to be a bust, let's turn around and try another spot."
Well, I've been doing this long enough to know, to just shine that kind of thinking. You never know what will be around the next bend, or over the next rise. Once again, ignoring my party pooper brain paid off.
A short time later, I came over a small rise, and off to my left was a nice area, with all of the attributes that I was looking for. It was fairly open, and ran about 500/600 yards long by about 200/300 yards wide.
I put my binoculars on the forest, and immediately saw these two sitting on a stump, in the shade, watching me.
A different 4x4 track took off from the one that I was on, and headed west down the middle of the area I was looking at. I hung a left, and decided to see what I might see. Man was that ever a good decision. There were squirrels sitting on every third stump. Below are some pictures I took while slowly driving and glassing the area.
When I stopped for this picture, there was a squirrel sitting on each of the three stumps. By the time I got the camera up, the one in the middle had bailed.
This is looking really, really good. Another 50 yards and I spot the pair below. One on the stump at the left, and another on the stump on the right. All of these squirrels were within 40/50 yards of the road. I could also see others, that were 80 to 100+ plus yards away.
WOW! This was way above my expectations. This is the best ground squirrel area that I have found so far. By now, it was getting close to mid day, so I pulled in under a nice big Ponderosa Pine, for shade, and decided to break for lunch. I got out my folding canvas chair, broke out the $5 footlong I picked up on my way out of town, and started enjoying a good sandwich.
It was very warm and humid. Humid, like around 80 percent. Not the kind of weather that makes me want to hunt, but I still enjoy looking around me to see what might be happening squirrel wise. In addition to the sandwich, I also got out my binos, range finder, and .22 Discovery. One never knows what one might see.
I finished the sandwich, and grabbing my binoculars, gave the area a quick once over. It never freakin' fails. There was a big old pile of deadfall, that I had been looking at while eating, and when I put it in the glass, I see a ground squirrel sitting back in the shadows watching me. I did not see it with my naked eye, but with the binos it really stood out.
I zapped it with the range finder, and it gives me a range of 46 yards. I picked up my Disco, chambered a 16 grain JSB, held a little high on the squirrels head, squeezed off the round, and what you see below was the result. This little rifle is one deadly rig.