Jerry Moss introduces friends from the Grey Squirrel Hunters page
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