Squirrel hunting tips for the air gunner
So many squirrel hunters use rim fire and shotguns for squirrel hunting. They seem to overlook the air rifle or air gun for small game such as squirrel and rabbit. But I've rediscovered a lost passion in air guns. I remember the days as a young teen when dad was working and couldn't take me hunting. Back then I was an avid air gunner though, and there was the multi-pump at hand. I was just 15 and thus still a bit too young to go carrying a rim fire or shotgun out to the woods on my own.
The air rifle required no permit and there was no age limit for using them at the time, though I do believe you had to be 13 to squirrel hunt with them. Dad felt comfortable letting me take it out as he had taught me safety to the point that not only could I recite his instruction back to the letter, but I also showed that using safe gun handling practices had become as natural as scratching my nose. The air gun isn't quite as dangerous as the rifles for squirrel hunting either. Most pellets will only travel a few hundred feet at best if it bounces off something, usually the energy is absorbed by the first hit and the pellet falls safely to the ground. Where a ricochet from a 22 rim fire or other similar rifle can be dangerous for more than a mile.
Build yourself a little inexpensive pellet trap and you can practice in the garage safely without disturbing others in the house with the noise. This lack of noise is also helpful in the woods while squirrel hunting with an air gun. The noise from a rim fire or shotgun, while getting your one squirrel, can send all the others running for cover. Air rifles and air guns are relatively inexpensive as well. They can be found starting around a hundred dollars, and you can get a scope for about 30 dollars more. With the scope well sighted and a little practice a squirrel hunter can easily archive a half inch pattern at fifty yards or a little better.
There are more expensive air guns and air rifles on the market, the price range goes from less than I mentioned above, on up to the tournament quality air guns that can hit you for thousands of dollars. The air guns and rifles come in different calibers. I use a 22 Crossman air riffle with pointed hunting pellets while squirrel hunting; it seems to work the best for me.
And to be honest, it gives me a great deal more satisfaction to be able to quietly send a pellet whizzing down fifty yards and dropping a squirrel or rabbit on the spot rather than with a rim fire ripping through the squirrel and alerting every other creature for miles to my presence. All the energy from a pellet is concentrated when it hits the squirrel into knock down force. The pellet will lodge into the squirrel or other small game and the force is absorbed at impact to knock down the animal. With a rim fire, the bullet passes through the animal and the force is slowly worn down by gravity and the force of the air being pushed against the bullet.
One thing you must keep in mind while squirrel hunting with air guns is to take the right shot, not just any shot with your air rifle or air gun. It can really spoil a day of squirrel hunting when you have to track a wounded animal due to a poor choice at a bad shot. So learn the kill zones of the squirrel before you even think about going out hunting.
- The chest shot: Viewing from the side, the squirrels vital spot is right behind the shoulder. You have there as your target, the heart, lungs, and pulmonary arteries. With a good well placed shot in this area of the squirrel, it will die quickly and humanly with little damage to the meat.
- The head shot: This is the most difficult of human kills while squirrel hunting with an air gun or air rifle. If at all possible wait for a clean chest shot in my opinion, but sometimes the squirrel leaves you little choice and if you.ve practiced your shooting with the air gun, you should be able to place a pellet here and make a safe and clean kill. The best shot you can hope for here if the squirrel refuses to show it's body is right behind the ears and directly from the back. Keep in mind that a squirrels brain is very small in comparison to the size of it's head. Place a shot right between the squirrels's ears to the back of the head, and you should have another prime ingredient to your squirrel stew.
(Be careful of taking that "classic" shot between the eyes. It's not as deadly or neat to the squirrel as tall tales like to suggest. Again, the squirrels brain is very small and that part of a squirrels' head is quite thick. Most likely a hit from a air gun will give the squirrel one hell of a headache, and leaving it capable of running away wounded.)
I hope this article about squirrel hunting with air guns has been helpful and prompts you to get the old pellet gun out and use it for more than the occasional garter snake or field mouse in your yard. It can be a very rewarding and satisfying experience, and will also help improve your skills with the rim fire. Thank you for reading. And please take time to visit my sponsors by clicking on their banners. Each carries some wonderful items to improve your squirrel hunting with air guns or with rim fire and shotguns.
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