Squirrels can be one of the most frustrating quarry for the air rifle shooter. It doesn't matter how quiet you are or how slow you walk they are forever out whittling us. How many times have you done everything you can to get near them and look up thirty yards away and one is going full pelt through the tree tops away from you. You can try and work out how it had seen you , or heard you but the answer is always the same " You don't know ". You can be wearing the best camouflage in the world but if we don't play them at their own game , you will never get the results you want.
Most grounds with any woodland no matter how small usually contains a squirrel or two. The smaller the woods the easier to get them as there isn't many places for them to hide but when you are faced alone with 70 + acres it can get very tiring walking around all day and at most you will only get one in four that you see. Summer time is the worst time to try and hunt good numbers of squirrels , there is a lot of cover on the trees and most of the time you will pass a squirrel high up in the trees without knowing it. There is also a lot of food about so the squirrel can feed almost anywhere he wants without being noticed. Conifer woods will make it easier in the summer as you will often see the branches bouncing where one has jumped from one tree to another, You can then start the stalk as you have hopefully seen the squirrel before he has seen you. Also they feed right at the tops on the pine cones and it is surprising how many times I have seen and heard them feeding well before they have seen me. If you are quiet you can hear them crunching on the seeds , then when they drop the finished cone on the floor you will often see it falling. When we move to autumn Acorns are top of a squirrels shopping list. This is when I move onto the Oaks as I know this is my main place to spot them. They will be busy feeding on and collecting Acorns for the cold months ahead so they can make easy targets if you sit and wait for them.
When the frosts arrive you should be spending more time looking on the floor for squirrels rather than in the tree tops. They will be busy digging up Acorns and Pine cones that they buried in the autumn to see them through the winter , if you do spook one feeding on the floor don't be surprised as it runs up the tree to stop so far up the trunk and look at you. They do this nine times out of ten if they are surprised so waste no time in getting it in your scope and take the shot.
As I am fortunate to have a few grounds to shoot on I can rest certain places through out the autumn so in the winter they don't spook as much as they used to earlier on in the year.. If it is a large ground that needs a good head count shot I take a lot of time in getting it ready for the winter months so I can get them exactly where I want them and in numbers .
For this feature I will give the run-down on what I have done to get the squirrels in certain places and show you how effective it was on my latest outing.
This Particular day started out seven weeks ago. The woods here are a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees so it is prime squirrel territory . I have shot many squirrels in this wood and it was getting to the stage where I was lucky if I caught one out and got a bead on it , so I put my plan into action. This permission used to be a pheasant shoot a few years back and luckily the odd feeder was still knocking about so I decided my best bet would to pick a location and set a trap where I could bring the squirrels to me.
If you have the chance to do this the first thing to sort out is the location of the feeder. My personal choice is to find an area where the trees start to thin out so I get a good view of what is coming to me. I find it is less productive if you set up in the middle of the wood , you never know what direction the squirrels will be coming from so there is a good chance you will be seen by at least one if not more. The best location is near the edge of the wood , don't worry if you think you are away from the main haunts as the squirrel will travel a good distance if he knows there is a good food supply. This also helps getting more shots off , if you have the squirrels travelling a good way then as you shoot them the next one has less chance of hearing the gun go off or the sound of the pellet impacting another of its mates as it is coming to you.
Now you have found your prime location it is time to feed it as regular as you can. I have been lucky in this case as the farmer has been topping my bins up on a regular basis for me and has also been paying for the feed. It is still worthwhile checking the bins yourself every week to see how much food is getting eaten , obviously some food will have been eaten by birds but your main lot will have been eaten by squirrels so it will give you an idea of how many are visiting the bin.
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