Author Topic: Finally got out!  (Read 1029 times)

Mike Armstrong

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Finally got out!
« on: October 10, 2021, 10:31:37 AM »
After many months of confinement to the LA slurb because of COVID restrictions, family illnesses, and National Forest closures because of fire hazard, I finally got an invite to come up to Earthquake Country to help a rancher friend of mine thin out his alfalfa-eating varmints.  Mainly jackrabbits, California ground squirrels, and pocket gophers--they flock to an alfalfa field in times of drought like these especially.

I'm not a long-range varminter, mainly because I don't like to sit for long periods, but my friend doesn't care what you shoot his pests with or how, so I took my Utica 219 .22 Hornet and a box of unleaded Barnes ctgs. that I'd hoarded for just such an event, and my 8 3/8" S&W Model 48 .22 WRM, plus a Savage/Valmet O/U 20 guage shotgun that I wanted to use for some quail.

Went quail hunting for about 3 morning hours in the mountains behind his place (NF).  Coveys were tiny because of the drought, so I stopped at 4 birds and then just let the dog work on the rest but only fired poppers "at" them.  Dog started looking at me like he knew I was losing it (they hate it when you "miss," even if it's only practice--if they hear a bang,they want a bird!).  Cleaned the birds and two unlucky cottontails and gave them to my host's wife for future reference.

Spent the afternoon on the edges of the alfalfa fields shooting ground squirrels and gophers, all within about 80 yards.  Shot up my 50 rounds of CA-legal and figure I got about 35 rodents for sure.  Rest were either clean misses or got back to their burrows,  mostly gophers that don't go far from their burrows, and are tiny targets.  My 219 has only a Leupold 2.5X Compact scope on it, but that's fine for these ranges with the larger ground squirrels, not so good with the pocket gophers, which are about chipmunk size.

The jackrabbits started to appear about as the shadows were getting long and the rancher and I killed over 40 in about an hour and a half--me with the S&W, him with a Savage 111 bolt action .223.  The .22 WRM kills them fine but I'm only good for about 35-40 yards with the iron sights.  He could cover the whole field with his .223 and 8X Leupold scope.

I'm sure we didn't "save his crop"--shooting just doesn't reduce the ground squirrel population much, even if you use a serious long-range rifle over time.  They are great diggers, great eaters, and apparently even greater lovers!  But we did make a feast for the coyotes and ravens....

Hope you're all gettin' out too!

Mike Armstrong


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Re: Finally got out!
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2021, 01:07:16 PM »
Years ago two friends and I hunted squirrels.  We only used pistols.  The land owner friend used a Colt .22 Scout "Buntline", my other friend used a .357 Model 27 S&W with wad cutter target loads, and I used my S&W Model 53, .22 Jet with .22 Long rifle cartridges.  We usually did a lot of shooting, had lots of fun, and shot a few squirrels.


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Re: Finally got out!
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2021, 09:09:07 PM »
Sounds like you had a great time and deserved a break. I would never consider California  as a place to live. It's a shame what's happened to a beautiful state.