It is a Good Day for a Squirrel to Die

February 7th, 2018

Rodent-Killing Efforts Proceeding Nicely

Today I spent a few hours failing to kill squirrels again.

Things are getting better, however. I have learned a few things. For example, do not put your 4.5-14x scope on 14 when you’re shooting squirrels. When you try to use the scope to look at a squirrel 50 feet away, you will be lucky if you’re on the same tree, and if you see the squirrel, it will look like a grizzly.

I also learned I like using Peltor electronic hearing protectors. These are earmuffs with amplifiers. You can turn them up so your hearing is better than normal. They make it a lot easier to hear squirrel noises. Ear plugs are not helpful when you’re trying to locate game.

The other day I spotted 3 squirrels in the woods. If I had been driving up the driveway to the house, I would have spotted 10, but that’s another story. Today I saw absolutely nothing. I can’t figure out how squirrels know I’m hunting, but they do. If I leave the gun at home, I’ll be surrounded by a conga line of squirrels.

I took some time out during the hunt to sight my scope in. I had it sighted in pretty well at 100 yards, but I expect to shoot squirrels at 30 yards or less. I put a table in the pasture maybe 60 yards from the target and went to work.

My rifle, a Savage .17 HMR with a bull barrel, came with a pretty bad synthetic stock. It’s free-floating, which is good for accuracy, but it was made with no comb. You need a comb when you use a scope. A comb is a big bump on the buttstock. You rest your cheek on it, and it raises your face up so you look into the scope at the right angle.

I was going to get a new stock from Boyd’s, but I thought they were rude when I asked them a couple of questions. They pretty much blew me off. Good thing, because I didn’t need a $230 stock. I just needed a comb. I went to Amazon and bought a $40 adjustable Kydex comb from Matthews Fabrication. It’s a piece of plastic that folds over the top of the buttstock. Two screws go through the buttstock and the comb, and you tighten them down when you get the comb at the right height. Look it up to see what I mean.

Today I used it for the first time. It’s fantastic. It puts my eye right where it should be. Now I have a warp-proof, weather-proof, free-floating stock with an adjustable comb, and I didn’t have to pay Boyd’s a dime.

The comb took about an hour to install. Most of that time was spent looking for tools. If my workshop weren’t a mess, it would have taken 20 minutes. You need a transfer punch, 2 drill bits, and some tape. Very easy. You have to drill 2 holes in your stock, but my stock is cheap plastic, and it was completely useless without modification, so I didn’t care,

I don’t know why Savage sells this gun with an unusable stock. The gun has no iron sights. You have to use a scope. That means the stock should have a comb. I guess they expect you to throw the stock out. The version with the stock I got is the cheapest model available, if I recall correctly. I believe the idea is to provide you with the least expensive stock available, on the assumption that you won’t keep it long.

I fired maybe 30 rounds and got the rifle shooting into about 1/2″. God help the squirrels.

This caliber (.17 HMR) is known for ruining squirrel meat. It’s powerful. If you can make head shots, that problem disappears. Now that I have the scope zeroed nicely, I should have no problem blowing squirrel heads off.

I should have zeroed it at 30 yards, but who cares? How much is it going to change at 50 feet?

Here is the second target I used. The first one had scattered shots on it because I was moving the scope crosshairs. The flyers to the right are from an experiment with the windage knob.

I started out shooting at the center of the target, and when I thought I had it together, I shot at the intersection of two lines above the center. As you can see, all 5 shots were very close together. Maybe not 1 MOA, but not far from it, and good enough for squirrels.There was a lot of wind. Most of it was from my back, so I don’t know if it mattered.

I went back to the woods and continued not seeing squirrels. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to shoot a target and then hunt squirrels a few hundred feet away, but the birds weren’t disturbed, so what the heck.

I’m thinking I need to try hunting in the morning, but I hate to do that because it will interfere with prayer time.

I used to think the .17 HMR was the wrong gun for squirrels, but now that I have the magnification adjusted, the comb fixed, and the zero corrected, it ought to be very good. I can hit squirrels a good distance off, and I can shoot them in the head to avoid tearing them up. An air rifle would be better because it would be quiet and safer, but what I have now is a lot better than a .22, and it’s more fun than a 16 gauge.

It’s still heavy. That bull barrel was not made to be carried around.

I can tell I’m going to like hunting. I like it now, and I haven’t shot anything.

I hope to post some photos of headless squirrels this week. Wish me luck.

3 Responses to “It is a Good Day for a Squirrel to Die”

  1. Juan Paxety Says:

    Work up some recipes.

  2. Mike Says:

    Bait the little buggers. I had a neighbor that shot them off his bird feeder, he told me that was the only reason he kept the bird feeder, said he could care less about the birds. When I hunted limb bacon my method was to sit still and wait for them show. I’d learn where they went to feed and ambush them.
    Good hunting!

  3. Anthony Says:

    Per Mike’s suggestion – yes, bait them: This is how they do it in the UK: Albeit with an Air Rifle:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv97q4pSV5s

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_HOKzTVT0Q

    And if you want to scare, but not kill the grey blighters: make a squirrel flinging device: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PQyHb3djDs

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