John's Journal...


Hill Topping & Bunch Hunting

Editor’s Note: To squirrel hunt, one of my favorite hunting sports, effectively and accurately, I need a good rifle, a quality scope and also the best binoculars I can buy. I'll only find the rifle and the scope effective if I can see the squirrel. Spotting a bushytail lying on the limb at 60 yards will test even Superman's X-ray vision without binoculars and a riflescope. However, from 60 to 80 yards with these optics, I can distinguish the difference between a squirrel's tail swishing or a bird's wings flapping. I also can determine if a bump on a limb is a squirrel's head or a knot on the limb. I particularly enjoy lightweight binoculars that have superior light-gathering qualities, which many optics companies offer today. Using quality optics enables me to bag bushytails at long range.

Hill Topping:
When younger, I knew little about squirrel hunting from first-hand experience. I hunted squirrels in the valleys and creek bottoms between hills and mountains since most books and magazine articles about squirrel hunting stated that those areas should hold squirrels. However, often I'd spy bushytails halfway up or right on top of a mountain. After I made a long and exhausting climb to get in a position to take a shot, usually I'd discover the squirrels had left the region or gone into their holes where I couldn't see them. Only young men enjoy chasing squirrels up and down the sides of mountains. Once you get older, you must replace the strength and enthusiasm of youth with the wisdom of age. Today, instead of starting at the bottom of a mountain or a hill and looking for squirrels moving and feeding in a bottom, I hunt the ridgetops for squirrels before the wind begins to blow early in the morning. If I spot a squirrel on a ridge, I can stroll rather than climb to him. Then when the wind starts blowing, I'll drop off into the valleys and the bottoms to hunt. Squirrels generally don't like to feed in the wind. By hunting the ridges in the early morning, I can take the squirrels on top of the ridges before the wind blows and drives the bushytails into their holes or down the ridge.

Bunch Hunting:
I've discovered when you find a bunch of squirrels you can bag more bushytails in the time you have to hunt than with any other method. By walking woods roads, fire breaks, and power line right-of-ways, you can move through the forest quickly and easily, cover plenty of territory quietly and locate large bands of bushytails. In years past, historians have written about squirrels bunching-together and migrating for some distance. Perhaps this trait of squirrels grouping themselves and migrating explains why a place will have an abundance of squirrels one year and few the next. Scientists have considered that overpopulation of squirrels in an area or food shortages may result in these migrations. However, no one knows for sure.

When I bunch hunt, I walk until I spot three or four squirrels playing in a tree. Because I stay well away from the squirrels and take 40- to 60-yard shots, when my rifle cracks and the squirrel drops, often I don't frighten other squirrels in the area away because they haven't heard the sound of my gun. Since the squirrels haven't seen any danger, even if they do become spooked, they may resume playing or feeding in the trees much quicker than if I take a shot from closer range. Using this tactic, I often harvest three to five squirrels out of a region without having to change my position.

To learn more about .22 rifles for hunting squirrels, use Google, and type in the words, “.22 Rifles for Hunting Squirrels.”



Check back each day this week for more about BUSHYTAILS - THE RIFLEMAN'S SPORT

Day 1 - The Right Gear Makes A Difference
Day 2 - Hill Topping & Bunch Hunting
Day 3 - Boat Hunting
Day 4 - Float-Trip Planning
Day 5 - Tree Standing



Entry 287, Day 2