Journal Entry 11/02/2013 Fox Squirrels

Rifle:  CZ 452 American "Squirrel Whisperer" (Morning & Afternoon)

Scope:  Clearidge Ultra XP 6-20x40AO Mildot

Ammo:  SK SS HP 40 grain

 

This will go down as one of the most memorable days in the squirrel woods I can remember.  I'll probably be a little long winded, as things just came together for Brad and I today, so brace yourselves.  I said a little prayer before my fried eggs and turkey bacon, asking the Lord to make the squirrels very active, also that the fox squirrels would be plentiful, and that we would be extremely accurate.  As you'll see I'm very thankful they were answered.

One of the first throwbacks of the morning was that Brad walked out and left his magazines on his kitchen counter.  Luckily we both shoot CZ 452's so I had a spare mag he could use, of course he suffered some good natured ribbing for this.

Squirrel hunting area

The morning started off very damp from overnight rains, so there would be zero leaf crunching to alert us squirrels were around.  Temperature was around 59 degrees, with a slight breeze, and overcast.  Brad and I were set up and ready just as first shooting light was available.  Brad made the first shot of the morning, but we weren't able to locate this squirrel.  The CCI mini mag he fired startled my as I wasn't watching him when he fired.  I happened to be scanning the woods out in front of me when I caught a flash of gray on the ground.  This squirrel hopped up on the base of a pine tree and then moved even closer onto the base of a maple tree.  I settled into my Cablea's folding chair and placed the "Squirrel Whisperer" into my shooting stix.  As I put this squirrel in the scope the 50 yard parallax made the squirrel very blurry.  I quickly cranked the adjustable objective down and things cleared up.  Based on how close this investigative squirrel was I aimed high as to make a head shot.  I turned the shot loose and made contact, striking the squirrel between the shoulder blades.  One down and I had only been set up maybe 10 minutes.

First squirrel 13 yards

Bullet impact first squirrel

My next squirrel came only 15-20 minutes later.  I caught movement in some deadened leaves on an oak out in front of me.  This squirrel was also making its way to my location.  When it jumped into the tree directly in front of me I lost it for a short amount of time.  I thought the squirrel would work to the center of the tree, but it had stopped out on a limb.  It took me a second to locate it but when I did, I settled the crosshairs on the top on the bean and turned the suppressed shot loose.  "Click, Thwap."  Solid head shot.  Both of these squirrels were shot on 6 power.

Second squirrel 12 yards

Now, If I may, let me take some time to educate my readers.  Both of these squirrels were easy kills for me, however one was 13 yards away and the other 12 yards.  So why do you need to be educated, you ask?  Quite often in my squirrel hunting lifetime, some of the most difficult shots I take are the close ones.  Why is that?  It's because squirrel hunters don't spend the time to know where there rifles are grouping at 15 yards.  That's why during my sight in sessions, I ALWAYS fire a group at 15 yards to ascertain what my crosshair holdover will be.  Had I not had this method in practice, I quite possibly would have missed both of these squirrels (I've missed them this close before).  To miss a shot at a squirrel that is essentially a gimmie can really lower your confidence in the woods, as you will ponder over and over how you missed one that close.

Brad's squirrel hunting view

Brad and I were hunting about 20 yards apart when I spotted the first fox squirrel of the day.  Our sign for the fox squirrel was the hand signal for the letter "F" in the sign language alphabet.  This black fox squirrel was on the ground and froze as I gave Brad the command to come to my area.  I was overly excited and made too much movement, which caused the fox squirrel to run off over the hill.  So Brad made his way back over to his spot.

Brad's squirrel area

I settled back into my spot for only a few minutes, when I caught movement over my left shoulder.  I picked a spot just 20 yards inside the woodline to setup for the morning.  There was a row of water oaks behind me that the movement was coming from.  I came out of my folding camo seat and sat on the ground.  I placed my CZ 452 American in my stix to prepare for a shot.  I then realized that the squirrel I was zeroing in on was a huge fox squirrel.  I'm pretty sure at this time I gave Brad the signal for fox squirrel, not knowing if he saw me, because he was too my rear.  I was amazed at how erratically this squirrel was feeding.  Back and forth from acorn cluster to acorn cluster, barely taking anytime to pause.  There were times that it would pause and was pretty difficult to pick back up until movement resumed.  I told myself to wait for the best shot, but I decided with all the movement I would take the first available, humane shot I could.  The fox squirrel finally sat still enough for me to break a shot.  My first shot made contact with a loud thud, but the squirrel continued to move.  I cycled the bolt and turned a second loose.  I missed that one completely.  One more bolt cycle and I pressed the final shot off that took the large fox squirrel out of commission.  Only problem now was that the squirrel never fell out of the tree.  More on that later.

Nathan's fox squirrel

After firing the final shot and sitting there to ponder what had just happened I caught more movement in the same tree.  I firmly believe had I been firing an unsuppressed rifle that the other squirrel would have been in a different county, however it was still actively feeding, unaware its counterpart had been taken out.  I watched just for a minute before I as able to ID this squirrel as another fox squirrel!  What's even better is that it was a black fox squirrel, exactly what Brad was looking for.  I quickly gave Brad the fox squirrel signal and motioned him my way.  Brad has never seen a fox squirrel in the wild, much less had an opportunity to take one.  If we could double on fox squirrels, this would be an outstanding day in the squirrel woods.

Nathan's fox squirrel close up

Brad moved slowly to my position, and the squirrel never noticed.  We quickly discussed how we were going to negotiate the situation.  I quickly got the camera out to record this action.  I offered my shooting stix up to Brad, but he still hasn't bought into there ability to help you increase your squirrel take ratio.  So we moved in closer to a tree he could prop on for the shot.  Brad was also amazed at the fast paced movement of the fox squirrel.  After possibly three minutes of movement, Brad was able to take a shot that caused the squirrel to start a screeching call.  The squirrel was certainly hit.  I told Brad to hit the squirrel again with another shot, the only problem was that Brad's 452 was having a feeding issue.  Brad finally got that cleared, and by that time the squirrel had fallen out.  Not knowing if the squirrel was dead or not, I told Brad we needed to move on the squirrel to stop it from crawling off if it wasn't dead.  On our way to the fox squirrel, another gray squirrel made itself known in the same tree.  It got a pass as the fox squirrel was our main concern.  When we made it to the field edge, the black fox squirrel was laying there.  The expression on Brad's face was priceless.  I would liken it to a lifetime deer hunter taking his or her largest buck ever.  For a squirrel hunter the southeastern fox squirrel is a trophy in any color phase.  For both of us to take fox squirrels in the same tree, is something I only witnessed for the first time last year.  It was quite an accomplishment, and we were both excited.

Brad's fox squirrel

Brad's fox squirrel close up

Now my squirrel was still stuck in the water oak I shot it in.  Brad shook the outer limbs on the tree to try to get the fox squirrel to fall out, but to no avail.  We next considered climbing the tree, that didn't happen.  Next was a 25 foot dead-fall that just wasn't long enough.  We finally settled on shooting the branch out to get the squirrel to fall.  With six shots of CCI Mini Mag, Brad cut the inch thick branch in half and my fox squirrel came to the ground.  We did walk the area to continue hunting after this, but we just couldn't quit talking about the fox squirrel action.  Needless to say we were both stoked.

Fox squirrels vs. gray squirrels

 

Afternoon Hunt

So for the afternoon we headed to another spot that required us to need quiet rifles.  With the addition of the suppressor you can pick up many more places to hunt, due to the noise reduction.  I've always been one to carry more than one rifle to a hunt, in case of a problem with one of them.  Brad has picked up on that and has started to do likewise.  As we were getting geared up for the hunt, we opened Brad's second rifle case.  Immediately I noticed the Weaver Grand Slam scope atop the CZ 452 and said "Oh no, Brad that's the 17 Hm2 rifle!"  Brad noticed this about the same time.  That's the loudest squirrel rifle, both Brad and I own.  Not gonna work where we were at.  So, my second rifle just happened to be one I had doped for SK Standard Plus, which is a standard velocity round with less muzzle report.  So that's how the afternoon started off.....  just about like the morning.  It's ok Brad, I got you covered brother!

I talked to that landowner on the ride over and he let us know exactly where the activity was so we could make the most of our time.  As we made our way over to the to the back of the property, I caught a flash of a squirrel tail rounding a red oak about midway up.  Brad decided to walk around the tree to get the squirrel to move while I setup for the shot.  Brad let me know that I needed to come to him as he had a clear visual on the squirrel.  I moved into position and it was a textbook, squirrel butted up against the trunk of the tree shot.  I settled into my stix, while Brad ran film.  Brad gave me the clear to shoot, I took a deep breath, exhaled, then held and pressed the trigger.  "Thwap" right in the noggin.  Immediately another squirrel came into the tree from a smaller oak.  The squirrel barked a little as it moved down the trunk to investigate.  The whole time I was tracking the squirrel in my Clearidge.  I asked if Brad was good, and as soon as he gave the ok I broke the shot.  Another thump in the bean brought the squirrel crashing to the ground.

After this we were on to the back of the property.  It's really prime squirrel woods, but the activity just isn't there.  We would spend a few minutes just standing still and waiting for movement or squirrel chatter.  We finally caught some movement from a squirrel crossing from poplar to poplar tree.  This squirrel was making it's way to a pine tree, to feed on some of the cones.  We were pretty close to the property line of a guy who isn't a real fan of hunting.  Brad told me to take this squirrel also, but we usually take turns.  I told Brad to take the "Squirrel Whisperer" and take the shot.  The shot required Brad to move to a patch of trees so he could get a shot.  The squirrel never had a clue that we were making the moves to put a hit on him.  The squirrel had taken a pine cone back to the trunk of the tree, and was backed up on a limb, touching the trunk.  Classic feeding position, shredding the pine cone.  Brad took aim and made a good shot right through the vitals.  I looked over at him after I filmed the squirrel falling from the towering pine tree, to see him whisper and point "This is mine."  Meaning he was claiming the "Squirrel Whisperer" as his own.  I just smiled as I knew exactly how he felt.  Great glass, great rifle, and a hush can on the end, it's hard to beat it as a squirrel rifle.

evening squirrel take

We finished up the day trying to get on a few other squirrels as the daylight faded away.  We didn't need to take anymore to know that this would be a day we'd both remember for many years to come.

Shots taken by myself:  7

Squirrels taken by myself:  5

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

richard roberts September 6, 2015 at 12:00 am

I’m on the forsyth side on the forsyth stokes county line, never have seen a fox squirrel, last year they opened season on fox squirrels in stokes, they’re probably up around the virginia state line i would guess. Every once in awhile i’ll see one mounted somewhere, but it will be an old mount. Guess i’ll never get the chance to get me one, course i’d probably be like the gentleman who could’nt shoot the white one, I’m not so young anymore and certainly don’t feel like i have to kill everything i see like i did in my younger days, only take what i need. I love the yearling gray’s to eat……Richard…….U.S.M.C……71-72……..

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