Fw: [AR-News] Shooting squirrels is "a whole lot of fun."
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From: joe miele, Date: Mon, 08 Aug 2005 19:56:35
Evidence that hunters kill animals for fun.
The following article from the August, 2005 issue Trapper & Predator
magazine and can be found on page 60.
Animal Control Trapping
by Dave Morelli
Shoot Squirrels In Open Spaces
Next to fur season, my favorite time of year is when ground squirrels
marmots start causing problems.
Most of my urban squirrel and marmot work involves the use of bodygrip
traps, cages and snares. Even if the job is in an area where shooting
allowed, I won't take the chance of sniping the furballs near houses or
where people might be walking.
What really trips my traps though, is doing squirrel work in the
spaces of ranches. Whether it is a paying job, helping the rancher for
enjoyment or trading for winter trapping access, wide-open squirrel work
a blast. Although most large jobs are more efficiently handled with
baits, I still manage a fair amount of squirrels through mechanical
With squirrel shooting, I can make the job as fun as I want. I have
a shotgun through infested areas, while setting traps, taking out
that exposed themselves. However, the most challenging task for me -
usually the most efficient - is the sniper technique.
Setting up a good hide and sniping a town of squirrels eliminates
infestations with minimal expenditures. It also sharpens a predator
eyes and equipment. A squirrel is a tiny target, even through a 9x scope
100 yards. A gunner needs to shoot '/4-inch or smaller groups at 100
Aim small, miss small is especially true with squirrels.
Why shoot at a squirrel at 100 yards or more?
After the young, uneducated squirrels have been eliminated, the
gets tougher. Each set-up will have fast, close shooting for 15 minutes
so. The next half hour will offer fewer, more distant shots.
The last five or so squirrels in a town are the most important. Most
hunters and pleasure varminters won't have the patience it takes to wait
the last few individuals. Sport hunters will move on to another area
the shooting is faster. But a professional wildlife control operator
wait out the last members of the town, because they are brood stock
will create a problem for the rancher next year. Professionals are paid
get them all.
Total management should involve all tools available to the operator -
baits and guns. If shooting is the choice, the equipment needs to be
to hit small targets at long distances.
Cost of ammunition is a consideration, because in business, the less
spend the more you make. For most of us, that means using a .22 rifle.
.22LR has been the trapper's best friend for as long as most of us can
remember. And, it is a good all around choice for squirrel management.
My old bolt-action .22 can probably kill squirrels out to 100 yards. But
is fitted with a 3-9x scope, and I don't shoot past 80 yards. This
excels in suburban situations with CB caps. The distances in these
are usually much closer. And, while most semi-autos will not cycle with
caps, the bolt-action works great.
At 35 to 50 yards, this outfit is capable of making one hole on paper.
at longer ranges, I prefer a 10-22. There are more attachments,
and pretty things available for the 10-22 than I can list, but the cost
basic model is under $180. With a good scope and some practice, these
are capable of creating vacancies in squirrel towns past 50 yards.
the .22LR loses effectiveness as distance increases. Matched barrels,
trigger jobs and heavier stocks will squeeze out longer shots, but soon
long rifle will run out of juice.
At ranges where the .22LR is unreliable, I turn to the .17 HMR. When
caliber first erupted on the rimflfe market, it was extremely hard to
If you found one, buying ammo was a chore. The reason: The caliber is
Simply a necked-down .22 magnum rimfire cartridge, the .17 caliber
small projectile. to nearly 2,500 fps.
The .17HMR is chambered in just about every type of rifle a guy can
Mine is similar to my old bolt-action .22, but with a bull barrel. The
cost $170, and I put a 4-12x scope on it.
For squirrels past 100 yards, 12x is the minimum magnification. Now that
know the .17 is capable of 150-yard shots, I wouldn't hesitate to put a
higher power on it. There has to be a happy median though. A variable
is necessary because I want to make close shots, too.
When the .17 runs out of steam, I go to the centerfires. A .223 or
will take care any other squirrel shot I need to make. Centerfires also
dispatch marmots and other hole diggers at long range. These are usually
same rifles I keep close during trapping and calling season. Sniping
200-yard squirrels is just the practice I need for taking a shy coyote
at 225 yards.
After you are familiar with weapons, taking out a squirrel town is
to calling coyotes.
When I work a large ranch with a moderate infestation of squirrels, I
identify individual towns or colonies. They vary in size, but are
recognized. Whether trapping or shooting, working on individual towns
me to be more thorough. Dividing a large area and working each small
completeness is always more efficient.
The first step for shooting work is to set up a good vantage point. It
be a pickup, all-terrain vehicle or hillside, but the spot should have
good view of the main activity areas of the colony. There can, and
will be, areas covered by bushes, grass and terrain. Resist the
to shoot through these objects. Squirrels will offer plenty of
opportunities. The same goes for running or moving shots. Patience
prevail when gunning for numbers.
The second important quality I require from my shooting location is
Just like at a coyote stand, I need to be able to sit comfortably for up
an hour. I won't sit as motionless as I do at a coyote stand, but
an anthill won't work.
The spot must offer a stable rifle rest. This can be a pair of sticks,
fence post or truck hood. My goal is to remove a squirrel every time my
rifle goes pop. A good rest makes it possible.
Cover or camouflage will be necessary to trick the last few squirrels.
don't mean I camouflage clothing so much as just something to cover my
movement or outline. A haystack or piece of machinery works fine.
I used to think it was a good idea to move on after killing several
squirrels, only to come back to the colony after scavengers removed the
carcasses. However, most of the time, the squirrels don't pay any
to their fallen comrades. I have even shot squirrels pushing on dead
don't think they have enough gray matter to assess what's happening.
I might shoot 30 or 40 squirrels at one town, but the last 10 will take
most of my time. After 45 minutes or so, I will move to another colony.
I will return to the same spot again either late in the day or on my
circuit. I continue shooting until no more squirrels' come out.
Many ranchers and landowners question the effectiveness of shooting
squirrels, especially if they are paying for the service. I simply tell
an effective management program should include other methods along with
shooting. But shooting is an efficient way of removing many squirrels in
I have worked the same areas several years in a row and see the effects
the management techniques I use. One tract where I have only used
as a control method, has shown a greatly reduced squirrel population.
Large populations of squirrels will not disappear overnight with only
mechanical controls. But diligent shooting will mange the problem.
In fact, shooting will remove squirrels much faster than trapping. By
shooting for three hours a day for a week, I can remove up to 500
in just 15 hours. The same amount of squirrels in traps would take a
more time. The landowner will notice the quick impact and happily pay
the service. Plus, it's a whole lot of fun.
Animal Control Trapping is a monthly column for trappers interested in
nuisance work. Write to Dave Morelli, Box 2554, Post Falls, ID 83877.
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