Hey all. Well, it's Monday and the guns are all cleaned and put away, the ammunition has been re-organized and my dirty clothes are in the wash, so I can finally sit down and give you my hunt report from this past Friday and Saturday.
Date: June 3 & 4, 2005
Where: Dairy farm, Central California
Weather: Hot, with temps into the 90's - breezy afternoons
Tom - Marlin lever-action in .22 Magnum, Ruger Model 77 in .22 K-Hornet (converted)
Eric - Ruger 10/22 Sporter with Green Mountain factory contour fluted barrel & Weaver 2-7 scope in .22LR caliber, Winchester M43 in .218 Bee caliber, Ruger 77/17 in .17HMR caliber
Friday - 100+
Saturday - 140+
Can't beat one of these:
Tom: The top-of-the-mound exploder that left a red blotch on the landscape for the entire afternoon & a few doubles.
Eric: 300 yard shot with the .218 Bee & a few doubles, even two with the .17 HMR.
1) The "Skunk" that popped up from the canal (turned out to be the neighbour's chicken) :lol:
2) The ground squirrels that seemed to enjoy the shade from our vehicle 20 yards behind us, knowing we could not shoot at them because the angle was all wrong.
My buddy, Tom and I drove up from the Los Angeles area on Friday morning, making a stop in Frazier Park to have breakfast with the Jesse's Hunting crew who was having their yearly "Pig-O-Rama" on Tejon Ranch. A quick bite from the breakfast buffet and we were on the road again. The only other stop was to re-check our guns at a make-shift "range" just outside Bakersfield.
We arrived at the ranch at about 12 noon and we met up with Albert, the land owner. We followed him back to the alfalfa fields just behind his dairy farm and he showed us the problem areas. As soon as we got out of the truck, we began to see the ground squirrels out in the field. One entire end was literally moving. All you could see was ground squirrels eating, running, jumping and standing straight up checking us out. We loaded up some .22 rimfires and went for a walk so Albert could show us the fields up close. **** there were a lot of squirrels!! We were constantly shooting, reloading and shooting some more. The rush and excitement of so many targets began to hit me. Although it was hell for Albert because of the extensive damage, it was heaven for me!
We got done about an hour later so Tom and I found a good spot to setup our benches and go for some longer range shooting. Unfortunately, because it was the middle of the day the squirrels weren't coming back up in great numbers anytime soon. Tom and I killed a bunch, but no where near what we should have. So, we decided to pack up to go check into the motel and then head back over in a couple of hours when it cooled off and the wind died down.
On the return, we knew exactly where we would set up. It was on one edge of the field, on a slight rise over-looking the back end of the field with a small canal to our immediate left. The squirrels were back out enjoying the afternoon breeze and gorging themselves on the fresh alfalfa. In no time flat we had the tables set up and were glassing our first targets. I started with my Ruger 77/17 HMR and Tom was using his lever-action .22 Magnum. We popped a few but noticed that the wind had picked up considerably since the mid-day shoot. Because many shots were over 100 yards, the wind reaked havic with both
rounds. Enough where we decided to put them away and bring out something a little larger. I pulled out my trusty Winchester Model 43 with the 1.5-4.5 power scope and Tom pulled out his Ruger 77 - K-Hornet. Since he was shooting a K-Hornet, he was still fire-forming brass while killing squirrels. His gun was topped with a Pentax 4-12 power scope.
Large .17 HMR Ground Squirrel Kill:
The first shots were a bit longer than I was planning for, but it made for some fun shooting when the squirrels hit the tops of the mounds or decided to look around a bit while munch on their supper. Once it began cooling off, the squirrels began to pour onto the fields in waves. We would have 6 or 7 squirrels appear from the left, cautiously eating their way into our shooting lanes. Once one or two were taken, the rest would run off the field, only to come back a few minutes later. I had one area about 100 yards out that eventually got dubbed the "Dead Zone" because after the first one exploded, the others all were attracted to the fresh kill like PETA members to a free salad bar!
I killed about 20 squirrels in that one small area, almost stacking themselves up in some places.
Part of the "Dead-Zone" kills:
Having the more powerful scope allowed Tom to make the longer shots, out to about 175-200 yards. He had a few strings where all you heard was "pop" and then, "Did you hear that one?" with a big grin... "Yep, I heard it" was always my reply. It's tough to mumble anything else when your face is tucked behind a scoped! His K-Hornet was deadly accurate even with shooting the regular Hornet loads.
The shots from my Bee and his K-Hornet made for some interesting, bloody and most times entertaining acrobatics! We were both shooting the 33 grain V-Max and let me tell you, those bullets are super-explosive, even at Bee and Hornet velocities. They put the large ground squirrels down as fast as the real young ones. With ear plugs on, you could still hear the "pop" out at 100 yards with no problem. I had loaded Tom's rounds as well as mine, so I ended up using the same load for both. Although that made my Bee a little slower than I could have pushed it, the rounds were very accurate and devastating.
Anyways, the shooting was hot for about an hour then began to slow-down as the sun got lower. Eventhough the scope on my Bee made it difficult, I began to play with longer and longer shots until I started scoping in on some squirrels 300 yards away on a rise at the end of the field. It only took me 2 shots and misses to figure out my hold, until I "popped" a squirrel sitting in the middle of the rise. When the bullet hit him, he began to make the crawl back to the hole, but he stopped short making the confirmation find easier even after the sun had dropped.
Eric with part of the "Dead-Zone" pile and my Winchester Model 43:
Tom with the same pile and his Ruger 77 K-Hornet:
The next morning had us setup at almost the exact same spot. The morning was a bit slow and after shooting with Albert for a while, we almost thought it would be dead for the rest of the day. But, right around 9:30am the waves of squirrels started coming out again! I had a good streak going with my Bee, but then I ran out of ammo. I pulled out my Ruger 77/17 HMR again and started dropping them right and left. It was awesome! I had squirrels on my left that I was shooting out of the canal and others that were sneaking into the "Dead Zone" again making for another large pile.
Eric collecting for the morning "Dead-Zone" picture:
Final morning "Dead-Zone" picture:
We shot for a while before the time came to leave. In just a matter of an hour or so, we killed 90+ squirrels between the two of us ranging from 10 to 275 yards.
I was amazed at how large some of these squirrels were, with their guts bursting with alfalfa:
That is the summary of this weekend's hunt. I just wanted to thank Albert and let him know how much we appreciated his kindness in letting us shoot. We will be back, ready and willing to clean-up a bit...
Eric A. Mayer B)