It was a clear, cool morning with low humidity, but I knew that by 10am that was going to change. A light fog blanketed the area as we entered the fields. It takes about half an hour to walk from my parking spot to the place I usually turn around, and during that trip we only saw one squirrel at a distance. We stumbled across a couple of deer though, and that made it interesting for Jamie. I told him not to get discouraged because I had a feeling this was going to be a good morning once the sun began streaming through the fields. I was right. "I fired at the one we had followed in and it fell like a stone. I lost track of the other squirrel so I turned to the squirrels at my right and dropped another." We saw a squirrel run its' tail off across our path and head for a tree. We cautiously went in pursuit and moved from tree to tree. I taught Jamie to use the trees to keep hidden and to have some support while shooting. Leaves began bobbing about 30 feet up and I told Jamie to hold his fire because I knew it would make its way back toward us. It did just that and within 30 seconds that squirrel was joined by another. Then one popped out at our right and then another! I signaled for my son to take the squirrels to our right and I'd nail the ones in front."...the first thing that greeted us was a big, gray coyote standing where I normally park!"
It was tough shooting because the foliage was incredibly dense. Jamie got off a couple of shots but was unable to bring them down. I fired at the one we had followed in and it fell like a stone. I lost track of the other squirrel so I turned to the squirrels at my right, fired and dropped another. The remaining squirrels headed into the trees, and from past experience I know that the best thing to do is simply to walk away and check back later. Once in a tree these squirrels don't believe in the old theory that if you wait 15 minutes they'll forget and come out. This was Jamie's first close encounter with a squirrel being hunted, and I think he now has new-found respect for them...and me. These are not the squirrels that hang out in your back yard. They have keen instincts and extremely difficult to get the jump on.
We decided to push through some rough areas that looked promising and I was surprised that we didn't see anything. We then backtracked and it wasn't long before Jamie spotted a squirrel. Since it didn't see us, he wanted to wait it out. We took a seat under some trees and within 15 minutes must have spotted a half dozen, most in the distance which quickly disappeared. Once again Jamie watched the squirrels to the left and I went right and hid behind a tree. The squirrel I went after disappeared into a tree, so I went to back up Jamie. I spotted one that was blocked from his view by leaves so I took the shot. It went down, but as soon as it hit the ground it began to crawl away toward some brier bushes. I took another shot and told Jamie to shoot it since he was closer. After hitting it 3 times it finally stopped. This one wouldn't require gutting. It amazes me how squirrels will keep moving unless you hit a vital organ that kills them. I lost a few last season this way and I'm not letting it happen again. It is now my policy that if they are moving when they hit the ground, finish them off with a second shot from wherever we are standing. They are like machines and somehow always manage to make it into the briers if I don't act quickly enough. I had one heck of a job retrieving this one through thorn bushes.
We took a path back to the Jeep that required us to plow through a large section of thick, tall bug-infested brush. We were getting tired and Jamie wanted to take a break but I told him that if we stood still we'd get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Jamie agreed and we pushed on. Within 5 minutes we saw what could have been the same coyote we spotted earlier about 40 yards away. It too was plowing through the brush as it tried to get away. It disappeared in seconds so I wasn't able to get off a shot. A few minutes later something else jumped up very close to me at my right. I think my heart skipped as I quickly drew my rifle and pulled back the hammer. It turned out to be a deer and not a coyote.
Since it was Jamie's first time out in a couple of years I'm very happy that we had quite a bit of action today. I hope this is a sign of things to come this season. I'm taking tomorrow off from work and hitting the fields again. Maybe I'll get a crack at that coyote.
GUNS: Henry Varmint Express 17HMR / Ruger 10/22