SQUIRREL HUNTING WITH AIRGUNS
By Tom Claycomb III
Nearly everyone started off hunting with airguns didn’t they? But after you grow up you move on into the larger caliber big game rilfes, right? So why have airguns have become so wildly popular the last 6-8 yrs. and especially with grown men and women? Why would we go backwards? I’ll tell you why. They’re a blast to shoot! But, they’re not the same airgun we were raised with 50 years ago. So, don’t make the mistake of thinking that an airgun is a toy. Some of the GAMO airguns boast speeds of 1,450 fps. Remember, a .22 only goes 1,250 fps!
Plus, they’re a blast to hunt with. And there’s probably no better animal to hunt with them than the wily squirrel. But squirrels are tough so I’d recommend buying a .22 cal. and not a .177 cal.
Which airgun should you buy? There are a lot of choices and they all have their good points but I’d encourage you to look at the Swarm Maxxim by GAMO. The feature that made it attractive to me was that it utilizes a 10-shot clip. This is a big deal when the shooting is hot and heavy. With a regular break action you must stop, open a can, pull out a pellet and while excited spill half of them or carry a handful loose in your pocket. Trust me. Clips are sweet. Plus, you can carry extra loaded clips for when the squirrels are really attacking and reload empty clips when things slow down.
Which pellet should you shoot? That’s a whole article in and of itself. GAMO makes a wide assortment to choose from. Experiment and see which one(s) of their pellets shoots best in your rifle. On small game you’ve got a small target so you want to be accurate.
Now for the fun stuff. How do you hunt squirrels? There are a lot of methods. If you have a squirrel dog, that’s the best way. But even if you have a dog that’s not a trained squirrel dog, he might work. As long as he can tree them. With him barking they’ll plaster their self against the tree on the other side from the dog. You’ll want to quietly slip to the other side from the dog so you can get a shot.
When I was a kid I had a Fox Terrier but she wasn’t trained. So I never got to hunt with a good dog until I attended the first two GAMO Squirrel Master Classics. We got to hunt with some of the best dogs in the country.
Another way is to set in the woods by a good squirrel tree at daylight and when they wake up try to call them. Of course, you’ll need a call and know how to use it. When I was a kid we had a huge hickory tree on our farm and I’d set there at daylight and try to call them. This can be an ok way to hunt if you’re by a nut tree that has a lot of squirrels but this next method is most popular way.
Just walk through the woods slowly. I like this method. During the day while they’re feeding you should come upon them if you’re in a good area. If you’re with a partner you might try having one of you make some noise and the other quietly go to the other side of the tree. Like when hunting with a dog.
If you’re hunting in woods that have super tall trees carry a pair of binoculars. They can be hard to see if they’re up high and plastered against a limb.
And lastly, if you’ve hit one and he falls to the ground, sometimes he might not be dead and will take out running. Be careful. In the excitement it’s easy to lose track of where everyone is. Before you shoot at him make sure of everyone’s location. Remember the old Winchester saying. “All the pheasants ever bred, cannot repay for one man dead”. Or, in this case, sub in squirrels. Have fun!