A blog by Bob Rich. Squirrel Hunting, Henry Rifles, Reloading, Range Shooting and More!

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

A slow morning before the storm

The weather forecast said that a storm was going to hit at noon, so I kept my fingers crossed that the rain would hold off for the morning hunt and headed for the fields. It's difficult to see much this time of year before 7am, so I took my time getting out this morning. With the storm coming in, it was dark and cloudy, which delayed the morning light even longer. By 7:15 it was just bright enough to target a squirrel through my scope, so I put my gear on and headed out. The parking area was just about full, which means that there were near 20 vehicles; most containing multiple hunters and their dogs. I was expecting the same war-zone experience as opening day, so instead of taking my usual path, I hit another area first where I had seen and taken rabbits in the past. By the time I arrived in the area, there were already 3 trucks parked along the path, so the chances of catching a rabbit off guard were zero. Hunting with the scoped 17HMR pretty much requires that I spot a rabbit at a distance before it sees me. If I kick it out of the brush, it would be a very lucky shot to be able to roll one. Since rabbit hunting was now impossible, I turned off the path and swung into an area where I rarely see anything, though about a month ago I nailed one in this area. I was surprised that within minutes I spotted 2 big, beautiful squirrels about 100 yards out, but they had already spotted me. They ran full out so I took 2 quick shots and missed. I really didn't expect to hit them, but after that shot I made last week it was worth a try. Luck wasn't with me today.

Next I headed into another area that I rarely hunt. It's the place where I saw a woodchuck climb out of a tree during the summer. Within a few minutes I spotted a squirrel that went behind a tree trunk, not giving me a shot. I crept closer and took a seat in the grass. Within a few minutes either the same squirrel or another came running around another tree trunk. This time I was ready, acquired my target and fired. The squirrel dropped with a shot to the head, but somehow locked onto a branch and wouldn't fall. I had to hit it with a second shot to drop it. When I took this photo, I covered it with leaves to hide the mess. That was the last squirrel I saw all morning. The number of shotgun blasts I heard over the next 3 hours could have been counted on one hand. I talked to a couple of very nice pheasant hunters and both were discouraged and neither had seen anything. As I was getting into my Jeep to leave, the DEP truck arrived with a load of birds to release.

Though Pheasant season is open until January 12, very few hunters will be out once the first snow falls. I don't believe the state continues to stock the fields through the entire season, so once the stocking stops, bird hunting generally does as well. That's when squirrel hunting season really begins.

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