Journal Entry 11/15/14

We made an effort this morning to make it in the woods right at twilight, to get a jump on the squirrel movement.  The temperature hovering at a chilly 28 degrees.  As we stepped in the woodline, we immediately spooked a few deer.  They were in the creek bottom, and it was still to dark to make them out.  We settled into position about 15 yards apart.  The first squirrel I spotted was racing down a standing, dead pine tree.  When it hit the forest floor I lost sight of it in the clutter.

Brad was the next to spot movement.  A hickory tree, about 25 yards north of our position, was housing a couple of squirrels that were in a feeding frenzy.  Brad and I slowly crept to a better spot to get a visual.  Upon making our spot, a squirrel on the ground came within 15 yards of us.  Brad was on deck for this squirrel while I ran video.  As I've said many times before the close shots may be the most often missed shots, and this one turned out no different.  I don't want to sound like I have a 100% hit ratio on 10-15 yards shots, because I'd be lying.  The mistake Brad made was that failed to account in the scope over the bore height, plus actually having a data point of what your ammo does on paper at that distance.  Brad and I both were  shooting subsonic rounds, and from my dope on my rifle I know I shoot one inch low at 15 yards.  This means if I'm going to be successful in clean head shot at this distance I need to hold my crosshairs at the top outline of the squirrels head.  We'll talk about this a little later in this post.

After the miss, Brad threw the shooting duties my way.  We found a large female squirrel sitting high atop that hickory tree, calmly eating.  I settled in for a shot.  Well wouldn't you know it, my freshly clean and maintained suppressed rifle produces a click instead of a bang!  This happens twice while this squirrel is in perfect position.  I have, as of this post, sent this bolt to a fella to have him have a closer look at it to see what the problem is.  Brad, kindly lent his rifle to me to take the shot.  By this time the squirrel had began searching for the next hickory nut.  Once satisfied, she resumed her feeding position, and I sent a RWS SS HP on its way.  With a powerful thud the round hit home and she slowly released her grasp of the branch to fall to the forest floor.  There was a second squirrel in the tree and it was Brad's turn again.  In the midst of swapping the rifle the other squirrel evaded us and should be in this patch of woods the next time we make it out.

After letting the woods quiet down for another 25 minutes we decided to start slowly moving towards the river.  Seventy five yards or so into the move I spotted a squirrel.  Moving in closer, I glassed a second squirrel in the same spot.  We slowly moved into the area without spooking them.  They were in a sweetgum tree that was very close to a beech tree that provided heavy cover for the squirrels.  We found them both and Brad settled in for the shot.  He went from standing to kneeling to make the shot.  The first shot struck a branch in the line of fire to the squirrel.  Brad quickly cycled the bolt and made the second shot count.  During Brad's shot, the second squirrel made a dash for the highest portion of the sweetgum and went into "hide" mode.  I had to cover about 25 yards of ground before I found an opening that would allow me a clear head shot.  I took a seat on the forest floor, and propped my CZ452 American in my stix.  Settled in for a shot by adjusting the parallax and powering the magnification up.  I steadied my crosshairs, exhaled, and started the trigger press.  "Thwack," a solid hit.  She loosed her grip of the tree and melted off the support branch to come crashing down.  The shot as you'll see was accurately placed just under the eye.  A quick dispatch, which is nothing short of what you owe the game animal you are after.

11-15-14 Well placed head shot

Once we collected our game and put things away in the truck, Brad wanted to learn how to shoot from my stix. He has been fighting using these stix for our three years of hunting together.  Brad also needed to see how his rifle performed at the 15 yard distance that he missed the first squirrel at.  Brad was under the assumption that he needed to hold low at 15 yards.  So I gathered up some fallen black walnuts which are exactly the size of a squirrels head, about 1.5 inches on average.  I first set them up at 30 yards.  Subsonic rounds in our rifles at 25-35 yards shoot 1/2" high, so you must hold just a little low.  Brad was quickly smashing black walnuts at 30 yards.  At 15 yards the crosshairs should rest on the top curve of the black walnut (squirrel's head) because at this distance you have to account for the scope difference over the bore.  Wasn't long and the black walnuts were exploding off of the wooden rest I had them sitting on.  Now Brad should be squared away the rest of the season.   On to the afternoon.......

 11-15-14 Morning double Nate Brad

Our afternoon quarry was working a hardwood tree line on a gravel path that stretches through the property.  It's always been a great place to get on a few squirrels, and this outing was no different.  The tree mixture in this stretch is sweetgum and oak.  After we saw the first squirrel, we spotted the second and third.  Brad got on the first squirrel, knocking it out of the tree with a chest shot, from his newly acquired suppressed synthetic CZ 455.  I've given that rifle the name of midnight.

Next up I found a squirrel hiding high up in a sweetgum.  Brad had trouble finding this squirrel on camera.  I would walk back and forth trying to get the best shot, but it just wasn't coming together.  During all of this, we caught more movement in a white oak.  This squirrel bailed out and headed for a sweetgum to hide.  After settling down the squirrel then decided to start down the tree.  Brad was again having trouble finding this one on camera.  I couldn't let this squirrel get away.  I squeaked quickly with my lips to get the squirrel to stop.  It stopped with a branch in my line of fire.  The squirrel then moved slightly lower, and I was prepped for the shot.  A solid shot to the bean and we had another squirrel for the freezer.

The next squirrel would also be taken out of a sweetgum tree by Brad.  This squirrel had hunkered down about 10 feet shy of the highest point in the tree.  Brad used a tree to steady and fired from the standing position.  "Spotter on, shooter on?"  I said.  "Shooter is trying to find him."  Was Brad's response.  Brad confirmed he had found the squirrel and I replied with, "send it."  A clean, through and through to the noggin.  The squirrel fell down almost in a "squirrel plinko" style, bouncing off different trees during the fall.

11-15-14 Afternoon Triple

The afternoon ended in a stand of oaks on a creek bottom.  The squirrels were very vocal, but we couldn't locate them visually.  Finally just before dark I made a series of shots at a squirrel at least 40 yards away.  It was making it's way to a den tree.  On my second shot I made contact, but it wasn't a lethal hit.  The squirrel made the den tree and began to royally chew me out.  We moved in for a closer look.  It was clear I could make a shot to put the squirrel down, but recovery was questionable.  I made a clean head shot that silenced the squirrel, but it remained in the hollowed out tree.  The correct thing to do was to dispatch the squirrel to end it's suffering.  This type of thing will happen to you if you hunt any amount of time.

Overall the day was very successful.  Plenty of movement and great weather.  We look forward to more opportunities this season.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael November 22, 2014 at 4:56 pm

If Brad decides to get a set of sticks, which I highly recommend, he should look at the Redhead Shooting Sticks from Bass Pro Shop. I have the set you recommended and the Redhead sticks. I like the Redhead set better. They have a better swivel between the sticks. Other than that they are nearly identical in performance while being a bit cheaper and easier to find.

Another good story! Please keep it up.

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Gerald Dickerson November 29, 2014 at 5:56 pm

What was the problem with the bolt Nate?

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Nate December 1, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Not sure yet. Sent it to DJ and had him slick it up and add his firing pin spring. Fired it when I received it back and had one failure out of ten rounds. I’ve since slipped another bolt from another 452 american in the rifle and have had zero problems. Maybe it’s time for CZ-USA to check it out.

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Gerald Dickerson December 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Hmmm…his super duper better than the other guys spring eh…have you got a J&P to try in it? If not I can give you one when we meet up.

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Nate December 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I had a J&P in it when it started acting up. I’d love to know what is wrong with it, but until then the “borrowed” bolt from another 452 American, hasn’t let me down.

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