SE­CRET SQUIR­RELS

The edi­tor asks if it’s worth tar­get­ing greys in the warm weather

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Stalk­ing squir­rels in the sum­mer? No, says the edi­tor. Static is the way to go

W hen I was 17, I was taken un­der the wing of a renowned, some might say in­fa­mous, lo­cal squir­rel shooter who taught me a huge amount about the skills and craft needed to be suc­cess­ful in pur­su­ing this tricky quarry. His abil­ity to find squir­rels was le­gendary, and only ex­ceeded by his skill in shoot­ing them with open sights.

As soon as the leaves be­gan to fill the trees each spring, he put his Orig­i­nal model 45 back into the cup­board, where it stayed un­til au­tumn has done its best to re­move them. Sum­mer squir­rels just didn’t ex­ist in Al­bert’s world, no mat­ter how hard I tried to get him to take me out. How­ever, to­day my sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent; be­cause of the huge dam­age they do around my shoot, I get con­stant pres­sure to cull them and re­cently the keeper was on my back be­cause they’re driv­ing him mad.

So, the ques­tion is, can they be suc­cess­fully hunted in sum­mer? If you have feed­ers out then the an­swer is clearly ‘yes’, but if you’re just on foot and hop­ing to find them in your trav­els, the odds will be very long.

SQUIR­REL FOOD

Your best chance is to find what they’re fee­ing on and sit it out in the hope that they’ll give them­selves away. Gnawed shells on the ground be­low beech and hazel trees are a strong sign that they’re feed­ing well, and it’s worth stak­ing out that area reg­u­larly be­fore they eat all the sum­mer har­vest.

Just strolling about and hop­ing to find them is pretty much a waste of time, in my view. I rec­om­mend search­ing for feed­ing ar­eas as your num­ber one pri­or­ity, per­haps even leav­ing the ri­fle at home un­til your re­con­nais­sance work is done. Once you find these feed­ing sites, you can re­turn to them ev­ery year with­out the need to search again.

Stay­ing still and quiet in a full camo out­fit will swing the odds in your favour, and learn­ing to study ev­ery branch, inch by inch, is a skill worth learn­ing, too. Low- pow­ered binoc­u­lars are another great help, most es­pe­cially those with a wide field of view. It’s prob­a­bly worth tak­ing a seat or a cush­ion, too, be­cause you’ll likely be wait­ing around for long pe­ri­ods, so you might as well be com­fort­able. Pa­tience will be re­quired, but you must be ready to take a shot at a mo­ment’s no­tice when your quarry ap­pears, or your chance might be lost.

“Your best chance is to find what they’re feed­ing on”

ABOVE: When you do get a chance you’d bet­ter take it now!

BE­LOW: If you can find where they’re eat­ing, you’re in with a chance

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