Journal Entry 01/19/15 “Huntin’ with the Gunsmith”

You know you have it bad for squirrel hunting when you travel over 2 hours away for a hunt. It turned out to be a hunt that we won't forget anytime soon. Now that may seem a small distance to travel for you, but I stay in state to hunt, so it's a bit of a haul for me.  I rose early and headed to pick up my buddy Brad.  From there we headed to hunt with our gunsmith, Ken "Thumper" Barfield, and his redbone coonhound Ginger.

 01-19-15 Squirrel 1

We arrived 30 minutes early. I was taught being on time was showing up late, and I have more respect for the other persons time than to show up late when offered an opportunity to hunt. Ken told us to gear up, and he'd be back with his gun and dog. We were headed into the timber by 7:30am. Ken had a feeling the squirrels wouldn't be out before 8am, and he was right. He explained that the squirrels needed to be out to lay down a scent for Ginger to pick up. Having never hunted over a dog that uses scent as its main means to detect a squirrel, this was new to me. It was interesting to watch her work. Nose down, and checking almost each tree base she passed.

01-19-15 Thumper and Ginger

 

Ken also wasn't confident that Ginger wouldn't be on her “A” game, as she was wrapping up her “in heat” cycle. Once the squirrels hit the ground around 8am, Ginger made the next two and half hours a shooting pleasure for us. Ginger would range further than I was use to, and when she'd tree, we'd head her way. The area we were hunting had a steeper grade than Brad and I were use to, and a few days later we were feeling the aches of our leg muscles. That's what happens when you are out of shape, but we survived.

 01-19-15 Thumper and Ginger 2

Now I can't remember every detail, of every squirrel Ginger treed, but I can tell you we recorded some excellent footage. She did a great job, and we had a stellar time. Thanks to Ken for your hospitality and the invite to hunt with you and Ginger. On the way to the afternoon hunting destination, I spotted an older fella out in his yard. I mentioned to Brad he might like some squirrels for supper. So I wheeled around and stopped into his house. I asked if he'd like some squirrels, and he said “Squirrels?” I thought maybe that he had no interest, but he then asked if we took them that morning and we told him yes. Before I could get them out of the back of the truck, he had his knife out and was ready to go to work. Always nice to make someones day like that, and I'm sure happy to give them away when I can.

 01-19-15 Killed nine out to Ginger

 

The afternoon took us about an hour away from Ken's to a place we hunted opening day. We hunted a bottom that had a couple of fields on each side. Brad and I spread out around 20 yards from each other. Brad heard the first squirrel, but couldn't quite put his eyes on it. He then got my attention and I spotted the squirrel. I took a kneeling shooting position from my sitx, that wasn't my steadiest position. Once the squirrel became still, I pressed a shot off. The benefit of a suppressor played in here. I knew I made contact based on the sound of the impact. My shot however was marginal, as the squirrel scurried through the leaves. I ranged the shot and came up with 55 yards, and that's a long shot on a small target.

 01-19-15 Nate scouting for prospects

I gave it a few minutes and then headed up on the hillside to investigate. I couldn't find blood, or the squirrel and was bummed out with this result. It was my fault based on the sub par shot, but this kind of thing happens. I can tell you that after a 30 minute wait the squirrel resurfaced and headed toward a den tree it obviously came from. I could tell from the quick glance I got she was injured. I made my way up the hill to find her in a low hollow attempting to rest and hide. I ended her suffering there, and put the first of the evening in the bag.

01-19-15 Nate's base of operations

Brad convinced me that we should go back to our spots and wait out the rest of the afternoon in those locations. It was good advice. I spotted a few deer about 80 yards off, then we had some turkeys fly in for roost. Brad had some squirrel activity, but couldn't seem to get on them. He only fired one shot at a squirrel passing by and missed. I, however, had a different outcome. All my action happened within 30 minutes of sunset. It seemed that's when the bulk of the movement started.

 

The first squirrel I had a shot at was only 30 yards away. I took a seat on the ground and used my stix. I found out from this position that a deadfall was in my shot path. I then stood up and took a free handed shot. In the style of a 10 meter air rifle competition, I lifted the rifle skyward, placed my support hand under the magazine well, and exhaled as I lowered the rifle into shooting position. As the crosshairs came onto target, I pressed through the trigger. “Whapp,” contact! The squirrel rolled of the stump and to the ground.

 01-19-15 Afternoon Squirrel 2

I then retracted my bolt to check for a round in the chamber. It was there, but the round wouldn't follow the bolt back. This would create a problem for the next squirrel I had an encounter with. The next squirrel was ranged at 53.5 yards, and was perched on a arm sized log, in front of a huge poplar tree. I had a clear shot from my stix. I settled the crosshairs and pressed off the shot, “Click!” I quickly cycled the bolt, and this time it ejected the round. I reset for the next shot. Crosshairs back on target, “Click!” Let me tell you that is a loud sound! I rotated the rifle the check the chamber and it was empty. The magazine hadn't lifted the next round for the bolt to chamber. I corrected this problem and made sure that I didn't ride the bolt closed. It's just as important in your semi-auto squirrel rifle, as it is in chambering a semi-auto handgun, to pull the bolt/slide to the full reward extent, and then let it slam home to completely return to battery. So while I was combating my self made problems, this squirrel was in the same position I left him in. Once again I lowered my crosshairs and pressed through the trigger. Surprised that this situation hadn't crossed my wires, the shot struck home and put the squirrel down in its spot.

01-19-15 Afternoon Squirrel 3

 

Within five minutes of making the last shot I had another squirrel run down a darkened deadfall and take the off ramp to a large poplar deadfall. This tree was 25 yards in front of me. The squirrel paused on the poplar and that gave me the window I needed to put an Eley Subsonic in the the shneckal region. Shneckal – The area where the shoulder, neck, and base of the head come together. The squirrel flopped off of the log. By this time the light was fading fast.

 01-19-15 Afternoon Squirrel 4

We rounded up all the squirrels and headed back to the truck for the ride home. It was another fantastic day in the squirrel woods. I am surely blessed to be able to partake of it. I look forward to the next adventure.

01-19-15 Afternoon take (4)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

richard roberts August 18, 2015 at 8:26 pm

SHNECKAL,that’s a first for me, but i’ve made several of them…….. FEDDERSENS,FEDDERSENS, FEDDERSENS, I got it Nate…………………………….

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Nate August 19, 2015 at 10:44 am

It’s hard to deny there accuracy once you put the Feddersen on paper. Pretty baffling what that barrel can make a 10/22 do.

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