Face­book friends

Jerry Moss in­tro­duces friends from the Grey Squir­rel Hun­ters page

Air Gunner - - Res Squirrel Ranger -

In these days of all the so­cial me­dia we en­joy, what bet­ter way could there be to get the mes­sage out there about what we do and our work with red squir­rel con­ser­va­tion?

Face­book is a place full of good pages for the hunter and air ri­fle en­thu­si­ast and I am one of four Ad­mins on the Grey Squir­rel Hun­ters UK page. At the time of writ­ing this ar­ti­cle, we have 888 mem­bers and it’s a great place to share your ex­pe­ri­ences, ask ques­tions, put some pho­tos up, make new friends and maybe hook up with oth­ers in your area. We have mem­bers from all over the coun­try and even a few from over­seas, so if you are on Face­book and fancy tak­ing a look, please send a re­quest to join the page. I’ve asked a few of the lads who reg­u­larly post on the page to drop me a few words so I could in­clude them in this fea­ture.

Ben Hinks, from Rugby in War­wick­shire, gives an in­sight to his per­mis­sions and the ways in which he goes about hunt­ing the greys.

‘ I’ve been a se­ri­ous air ri­fle hunter since I bought my first PCP (Fal­con) aged 19, some 18 years ago.

Prior to 2016, I’ve al­ways hunted what the time of year dic­tates, usu­ally rab­bits and corvids in spring/sum­mer, and squir­rels in win­ter, but I made the de­ci­sion to start chan­nelling all of my hunt­ing en­er­gies into squir­rels last sum­mer. I’d re­alised just how much dam­age they were do­ing to trees, and the song­bird pop­u­la­tion in my area, by nest raid­ing and steal­ing food, and to our na­tive red squir­rel pop­u­la­tion – I’ve never seen a red and know that I’ll have to travel a long way to see one! I shoot on sev­eral small (100-300 acre) per­mis­sions, and also on the land where my dad is head game­keeper. For squir­rel shoot­ing I use the rugged and very ac­cu­rate Weihrauch HW100 in .177 cal­i­bre, and some­times my Weihrauch HW97K springer, also in .177.

I use wooden feed­ers, mounted in trees, and sev­eral spring-type pheas­ant feed­ers, too. I have wheat in the spring feed­ers and use a mix of peanuts, sun­flower seeds and dried maize in the tree-mounted ones.

On my own lo­cal shoot, which is full of spin­neys and squir­rels, I leave a sack of wheat with the landowner who is more than will­ing to pop down to top-up my feed­ers the evening be­fore I plan to visit the area to shoot, if I can not get there to do so. I do work mid­week, so time is lim­ited. My

fa­ther’s shoot has a huge piece of wood­land al­ready full of pheas­ant feed­ers!

I have a hide built from net­ting in the cen­tre of one of these woods, and it gives clear shots to all the feed­ers. I al­ways use a face­mask and cap be­cause I of­ten use nat­u­ral cover on my fa­ther’s shoot. Gloves are es­sen­tial, as are slow move­ments. I like to al­low any squir­rel time to set­tle be­fore mov­ing to take the shot, and I only go for head­shots be­cause squir­rels are very tough. I use 12 ft.lbs. ri­fles so I limit my max­i­mum killing range to 35 yards, but I take most be­tween 15-25 yards. Suc­cess­ful squir­rel hunt­ing is de­mand­ing and re­quires plan­ning and lots of pa­tience. Don’t be afraid to take a walk through the wood­lands and hedgerows and most of all, en­joy your­self!’

Paul Far­leigh who lives in South Nor­folk de­scribes a re­cent hunt­ing trip.

‘ I woke up early to visit my feed­ers. I al­ways look for­ward to see­ing how much wheat has been taken dur­ing the week, so I al­ways try to ar­rive whilst it is still dark, set up my hide, and set­tle in. I’ve learned never to check the feeder. I don’t want to dis­turb it, un­less it’s nec­es­sary.

As I looked through my scope, I could see that all was good – wheat was still avail­able and the scene was set. Bang on 8 o’clock, the first vis­i­tor ap­peared so I shoul­dered my Daystate Mk4iS in .177, lined up the grey through my Hawke Sidewinder, re­leased the safety, and watched the JSB Preda­tor Poly­mag hit home. I gave a lit­tle grin to my­self as the tree rat hit the leaf- cov­ered ground, stone dead. I cy­cled the mag­a­zine, safety catch on, ready for the next vis­i­tor to ap­proach. It was now 8.20am and I heard a rus­tle com­ing from some ivy, wrapped around sev­eral trees, and out popped a hun­gry grey squir­rel. This is the bit I love – I tracked what he was do­ing; he scratched his left ear, then off on his trav­els he went - straight to the home­made pipe feeder for some wheat. I tend to use wheat be­cause it’s cheap, avail­able in bulk, and the squir­rels love it. I went through the same pro­ce­dure as be­fore – a per­fect morn­ing, and I emerged from my hide to stretch my legs and re­trieve my two squir­rels.’

Ja­son Price, is a gar­dener on a 2000-acre es­tate in Hamp­shire where he also does pest con­trol in his spare time.

‘ I get out at least once a week, but as many as four times a week as the evenings draw out. I mainly static hunt from a popup dome hide, off feed­ers that are full of aniseed, split maze, wheat and peanuts. My ri­fle of choice at the mo­ment is a HW100KT in .177 and the pel­let is H& N Bar­racuda, at a dis­tance of 25 yards. If it’s pos­si­ble, I al­ways put the hide up a day be­fore so that the greys are not spooked, and it’s less has­sle rush­ing to get it set up come the morn­ing. For me, the most im­por­tant thing for a day’s static shoot­ing is a good seat, and my trig­ger sticks are es­sen­tial for com­fort when tak­ing the shot.’

As you can see, static shoot­ing seems to be a favourite, and I in­clude my­self in that. Dif­fer­ent ar­eas and sit­u­a­tions will dic­tate this, but for con­trol­ling greys where we still have reds, the feed­ers are cer­tainly a must, for me. Un­til next month – happy hunt­ing.

“I’d re­alised just how much dam­age they were do­ing to trees, and the song­bird pop­u­la­tion”

Paul re­lies on his tried and trusted Daystate Mk4

Ja­son likes to use a pop- up hide

Paul likes to film his shots

Ben knows how to bag the greys

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