Although The months of April and May are great time for the Air-gunner to be out and about, be it ambushing the farmyard, or what I consider the most enjoyable, that is Rook shooting. This time of year is a bit frustrating for me, as I don’t sort after Rabbits until at least mid-June, I tend to leave the rabbits alone from late February to June, for them to do what they do best, apart from damage crops or tear up horse paddocks, and that is to reproduce, nature is simply restocking its larder in great numbers.
Through the winter I go in-to a sort of auto-drive mode where hunting with air-rifles is concerned, still being effective mind, Its not until this time of year when I’m like a grey-hound waiting for the trap to open, to go after the rabbit, and that’s the sort of passion and enthusiasm, that amazingly I still have for our sport, and Its still getting stronger as I grow older, now at the ripe old age of 41, I now have 25 years hunting experience behind me, and probably still more to learn, and that’s true about hunting with air rifles, we never stop learning new tricks.
It was a Monday when I thought to myself, which feeder shall I hit this month, after a quick thought I decided on my golf course permission, which has a lot of small woodlands, and a very large one near the 18th green, of which I haven’t shot yet, however I still visit these feeding stations, topping them up every week, this keeps any squirrels interested in using the free takeaway stations, also it can bring in new tribes of greys squirrels.
Monday evening I nipped down my local village shop to grab a few small bags of peanuts and black sunflowers seeds, which I’ve mentioned before in previous features, this bait has brought me a lot of success down the years so I stick with It. Then I quickly went up the golf course to fill the feeder that I was going to hit the morning after. It’s a good idea when you fill your feeders to do It as late as you can in the previous evening, I remember on one occasion I filled one of my feeders in the early afternoon, only to find it the next morning totally empty, the culprits being songbirds, as much as I love them and enjoy their presence, they cleaned my feeder out in no time.
Many a time when I’ve been out squirrel shooting I have witnessed how busy songbirds really are, they don’t stop all day, feeding back and forth, Its such a joy to watch while I wait for the next tree rat to arrive but they do empty your feeders more than squirrels ever will.
It gave good weather for Tuesday, so I set my alarm for 5am, Its nice that our mornings are now getting light earlier, and the light is lasting longer before dusk, a true sign Summer is nigh.
My camouflage choice for today is my Jack Pyke LLCS gillie suit with the matching head net and gloves also my baseball cap all in the English oak pattern, also I thought as the ground is damp and sodden in the woodland, and they is a lot of prickly brambles I decided to put my Jack Pyke countryman wellies on to protect my legs and the annoyance of the prickles snagging the leaves of my gillie suit trousers.
No doubt by now some of you are realizing what my favourite quarry is, I love the challenge that all avian quarry brings except feral pigeons, “no challenge at all” also I enjoy the control of grey squirrels. If I had to pick one of the feathered variety, It would have to be the magpie.
I arrived at the woodland at 5.30am then I had a quick check if the bait was still intact, It was all good. Then I lay down around 25 yards from the feeder, placing myself in a nice hidy hole with plenty of plantation around me. I blended in quite well and had a feeling a good day was ahead of me. I loaded my magazine with 10 Air Arms Field pellets, and cycled the bolt to push one into the breach. The Air Arms Ultimate Sporter’s loading cycle is so smooth and precise, also quite fast, which should be good today against the tree rat’s.
By now I was all settled and ready, with my head net and gloves on, now for the waiting game to see If my baiting and feeder tactics was the right choice, however I’ve done this for years now so it’s become a natural process for me. It wasn’t long before my first encounter arrived at the scene, In the form of a Jay, It swooped in so fast and silent and landed on a thin branch of young sapling, but I wasn’t in a hide and my first very slow movement to take aim, spooked him straight away. I knew It was a lottery chance and I wasn’t fazed that the chance flew off at all, maybe next time I will bring along a couple of hide poles and a net, to maybe bag a Jay or two.
Five minutes later something quite amazing happened, a buzzard flew in and landed on the woodland floor, but the amazing part was, It never spotted me and carried on its business for the next five minutes, I was cursing by now that I didn’t bring my camera out with me. The buzzard was only about 15 yards away from me to my right, then it flew up to a branch but stayed around my location still not spotting me. This proves one thing, the Jack Pyke LLCS suit is some kit I tell you.
Not long after, about 20 minutes in to my session, my first chance hit the feeder quite rapidly, a grey squirrel had arrived, so I carefully lay my mill-dot cross hair on his kill-zone and released the first shot of the morning, smack! It connected so sweet he toppled off the feeder and hit the ground without a flinch, confirming my first kill of the day. It wasn’t long after until another squirrel had arrived, this tree rat crawled up from the ground up towards the feeder, he took his peanut and headed back down the tree trunk, I thought to myself “no stop” fortunately he did halfway between the bait station and the woodland floor, he was hanging upside down by his back paws nibbling at his peanut so I decided to take the shot where he was, I aimed dead on the top of his crown for this shot, as he was hanging nibbling away, I pressed through the Ultimate Sporter’s trigger and released the shot to it’s mark. The pellet impacted perfect, but the squirrel was still hanging, he was stone dead but still there, the shock of that shot must of been that good he hung for up-to 30 seconds with blood dripping out like a tap. He eventually slid to floor confirming number two in the bag.
An hour had passed before my next chance arrived at the scene, this squirrel approached from behind the feeder, and came round the base of the tree, and headed on up towards the feed, the tree rat took a peanut and travelled on up towards the top to eat. He took one nibble before the Ultimate Sporter turned his lights out, indefinitely. He dropped so cleanly I thought he was going to stay on top of the feeder’s lid, but the squirrels final kick pushed It over the edge towards the floor.
With my bag of grey’s certainly growing by now, I was feeling quite confident I could push double figure’s, for the session, as another had arrived out of the blue, these squirrels was certainly taking me by surprise. I slowly settled my Bushnell legend mil-dot reticle on his bonce, and released yet another mini Air Arms rocket to its mark, smack! This shot was absolutely superb, as I bowled the tree rat right of his perch “stone dead”.
Within the next hour, It was a grey squirrel highway, one after another arrived at the feeding station, I couldn’t believe how my day was turning out, It was like a target session In the end, every shot for me and the Ultimate Sporter was just a formality.
By 2pm my bag was on 13 tree rats for the day, I was well chuffed with my performance, It just go’s to show by doing your homework and planning your sessions, you really can fill up your game bag. If any of you reading this very feature, has some woodland on your permission, go and check it out, you never know just how many squirrels may be waiting for you. Build yourself a feeder and find the right location to situate it, I normally put mine in the middle of a wood averagely in between the drey’s I have located, Its usually a good bet to start with. Be sure to check your feeder at least once a week, topping it up with peanuts and sunflower seeds or maize, and set your ambush point around 25 yards away.
Well that’s it folk’s until next time, be safe and happy airgunning.