Squirrel season opened this past Saturday, and I was in the woods at daybreak. I noticed that nature is spreading a blanket of red, orange, purple and gold on the countryside. It really looks great against the dark blue autumn sky. Fall has to be my favorite time of the year.
The gun I chose to hunt with during the first week was my grandfather's old bolt-action 12-gauge shotgun. Papaw purchased this firearm from Sears & Roebuck in Charleston in 1946 for about $25. It shoots an excellent pattern out to 40 yards using Remington 2 3/4 inch maximum loads with No. 6 shot. My father often said, "Despite its hard recoil, this is one of the better of the low-priced shotguns."
On opening morning, I saw eight squirrels and got four, with four shots. On Monday morning, I saw four and got two with two shots. I did not hunt in the afternoons because it was just too warm. All of my squirrels were grey, and when I dressed them out, none of them had warbles and looked healthy. They are now in my freezer.
I spent about an hour and a half on Sunday afternoon shooting two .22 rimfire rifles. One was a semi-auto with a telescopic sight, while the other was a bolt-action also equipped with a telescopic sight. The bolt-action rifle was my first gun. Santa Claus brought it to me in 1957. Now, I have taken more squirrels with this rifle than any other firearm or any combination of firearms.
The ammunition I was using was CCI, (Cascade Cartridge Inc.), high-speed solid point and hollow point bullets. The semi-auto was grouping low and to the right with the solid point ammunition at about 30 yards. I had to make two separate adjustments with the cross hairs before it would zero in. I did not have a rest, and I was shooting from a kneeling position. When I tried shooting hollow-points, which is what I hunt squirrels with, I had to adjust the cross hairs for a third time. The final shot group was slightly high, but the windage was perfect.
After being in storage for over a year, the bolt-action rifle was still sighted in. I did not have to make any scope adjustments with this rifle using solid or hollow-point ammunition. I'm thinking about taking the semi-auto out in the near future. When I got the scope adjusted, I was satisfied with the way this rifle performed. When comparing the two rifles, the accuracy of the bolt-action rifle was superb.
This year there is more mast than last year. The hickory is common, but not abundant. There also appears to be some oak on this particular ridge.
According to the forecast, cold weather is on the way so the leaves should be falling soon. This is when I like to go after the bushy-tails with a rifle. I know that most squirrel hunters who use a rifle, aim for the head, but I usually aim for the shoulder. The hollow-point bullet makes a humane kill, and they bleed out rapidly with this technique. As a result, I actually think they taste better when taken in this manner.
This year has been better for me than last, considering that what I bagged last year was nothing.