Tonight nuts were falling from the trees.
I mentioned to Nikki that we might go see what was out there.
While I was standing underneath the tree with the most nuts falling from it (a big ol' shagbark hickory covered in poison ivy) trying to spot what was cutting nuts, Nikki was looking further off. Actually she was sniffing dear poop and looking further off. They both seemed to interest her.
A tree in the direction started really rustling. I brought the rifle up in a standing hasty Hasty sling position, which I was taught at the CMP course known as Appleseed, where I scored Rifleman about a year ago on my second target, IIRC. I practice a lot.
The tree, about 50yds distant, rustled again. Seeing nothing immediately available on which to brace myself - save for the poison ivy covered hickory, which I briefly considered and dismissed as not quite
worth it - I pulled the rifle tight, put the trigger on the set position (12oz or so vs 5lbs) and waited.
I saw a head peek out, then a whole body was balanced precariously on a slim limb to make a jump to the next tree.
My rifle cracked of its own accord right before the squirrel made the jump, and it fell.
Nikki and I went out to find the squirrel. It wasn't where I thought it was, and Nikki seemed a bit confused. She wanted to wander into the area where we usually hunt. I think she thought I wanted her to find squirrels there.
We hiked back to the house, and I unloaded the rifle and put it down. It's still somewhat heavy, though the bipod and sunshade come of for hunting unless I intend to set up in a field. I then ranged the distance again, and realized we had not gone far enough.
We went back out again to find the squirrel, this time angling in a bit of a different direction and going further.
I told her to find the squirrel... and she ranged out about 15yds further than I was and picked it up.
Now I got to witness her squeeeeze it. As others have told me she would, she learned from the last time when the squirrel "came back to life" and bit her. She made sure it was dead, but didn't seem to damage it at all - and I've seen her bite. A dog's bite is strong anyway, but the first and only time I gave her a rawhide bone - one of those huge, long and thick ones - she gratefully took it and bit it in half with one chomp, then proceeded to eat the entire thing. She could have done much worse to the squirrel.
There was, however, no need for the squeeze on that one. The shot was perfectly through the head, and the distance ranged to a bit over 50 yards, not including the 30 degrees upward I was shooting, so it was a bit lower than I like, but still acceptable to me for 50 yard standing.
One of several attempts to get a good picture of Nikki. (Notice her darker winter coat coming in - that's the Husky and wolf).
Though it's a smallish squirrel, it's still a squirrel, and should be more flavorful and tender than the big ones I'm used to shooting.
I of course skinned it out and let Nikki have the entrails, as I always do. (According to the vet, this does not hurt her as she's wormed well and anything that could be caught from a squirrel, she's immunized against).
As for the other squirrel I was trying to glass earlier? It was still dropping twigs and nuts:
Nikki wants that other one in a bad way.
We did try to go after that second one for another hour, but it's gotta be a second or third year squirrel that's learned to avoid being seen. We'll get it, but probably not before the leaves fall. Right now, it's still like twilight even when stepping into those woods at high noon.
Score two for Nikki this season, so far.