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M14sRock 03-23-2010 04:18 AM

Squirrels? What squirrels?
Had a GREAT day of varmint control yesterday!!

I called my partner a couple of weeks ago to set up a trip to the desert for Sunday (3-21) to do some long range shooting, but he suggested a better idea. It involved a bit more driving but was worth it.

His family owns a ranch that is currently overrun with ground squirrels that burrow into the ground and whose burrows have broken the legs of a couple of cows recently. The grass is growing like crazy and is about 2-3 feet high in most places, 6 inches in others. The squirrels carry disease and are very destructive. The cows are big but they seemed docile enough, though I prefer my cow with grill marks on it. So instead of going to the Mojave dez to shoot steel at 1,000 yards, we drove to the ranch.

My partner brought his Rem700 Varmint in .223 topped with a Leupold 4.5-14. I brought my Savage 12FVSS in .223 topped with a Meopta 4-16x44. He was shooting some of his handloads with 55gr VMax’s, and I was shooting factory Winchester 45gr. I kept my scope on 6x all day and he kept his on 10x. For ranging we used my Leupold 8x30 Binos with the built in laser rangefinder. We both used Harris bipods (6”-9”).

He got off to a bit of a rocky start, as his rifle was inexplicably shooting 6” high and 3” right at 200 yards (even though it was drilling holes 3 weeks ago at the range with the same loads). My rifle was dead nuts on, so I took an early lead and never let it go.

My first (cold bore) shot was at 165yds and layed one out, deader than Kaiser Willie. My rifle will drop 5 of the Win 45gr into one ragged hole at 100 as long as the shooter is doing their job. It does not shoot any other factory load well, but loves these 45’s. My first 5 shots ranged from 165 to 255 and sent 5 squirrels to rodent heaven. The hills were alive with them, and business was brisk.

We set up on the berm of an old pond and shot prone most of the day, but I did sneak in a couple of sitting shots. Shooting from the berm allowed us to shoot over the top of the grass and into the rocks, trees, stumps, fence posts and grass across the valley. It was a great vantage point that we used to our benefit. Most of our shots were 350 or less, but I made one at 380 (VERY lucky). I was most satisfied with the running shots at 250 and made 3 of those (the 6x magnification worked great on the runners). The squirrels were scurrying across an old lava field and it made for easy tracking as the bipod legs allowed for some flex and some very smooth muzzle travel. The squirrels did not learn to zig zag so were easy pickings. The little 45gr pills run out of steam out pretty quick but worked well at all the ranges above. I would not use them on Yotes past about 200 as they are too lightly constructed.

We eventually took turns spotting and shooting. We would back each other up, and it helped on the rare shot that did not offer a clean kill. The second shot was on its way less than a second after the first, and no squirrel suffered.

My partner’s 12 year old nephew joined us for a while and brought along an old Remington bolt action with an ancient Redfield 6x widefield. Typical ranch rifle that had seen a couple of lifetimes of hard use. It did not feed from the tube magazine and did not extract, but both would have been helped with a thorough cleaning. It was surprisingly accurate with Rem Goldens, and he managed to bag one squirrel with that and one with my Savage. He was a very happy kid.

The weather was perfect and clear. Never hot, never cold, never windy. I look forward to our next trip and calling in some Coyotes.

We did some serious damage to the squirrel population, but left far more alive than dead when we were finished.

jeepcreep927 03-23-2010 02:08 PM

Nice work! I sometimes think it's a bitter sweet that we don't have mass populations of anything like that here in the northeast. I look at places have ground squirrels, p-dogs and hogs running wild and would love to have the opportunity to spend a day culling some out.

Around here three to six woodchucks a day in the late spring through late summer is a good amount. Thought about going to going to ND for a prairie dog shoot through an "outfitter' but the cost was $3000.00. A little steep I thought to shoot vermin.

Again, nice shooting and good times.

Jo da Plumbr 03-23-2010 02:16 PM

Good to hear from you M

Looks like fun.

spittinfire 03-23-2010 02:20 PM

Man that sounds like a fun day. Looks like you had good weather too.

lonyaeger 03-23-2010 02:24 PM

Now I'm gonna dream of splattering squirrels!

stalkingbear 03-23-2010 03:05 PM

Sounds like a GREAT day! I'm envious like jeep is. I still cherish my memories of shooting prairie dogs and jack rabbits out west.

M14sRock 03-23-2010 09:04 PM

Thanks, Guys. The weather was absolutely perfect. And the squirrels were everywhere.

Our AO took in a valley that curved on the right side, so our fields of fire were probably an arc of very close to 180 degrees. The far left edge of the arc has some homes over the hill, so out of respect we did not shoot against that hill even though there was no fear of overshooting the hill and lobbing rounds into homesteads.

We hope to get back out before the summer heat kicks in, and of course I'll post the results when we do.

amoroque 03-24-2010 05:31 PM

That looks like a great day in the field! And it really sounds like you have your rifle dialed in.

Jeepcreep, come on out to CO anytime. We can shoot as many p dogs as you want.

M14sRock 03-24-2010 06:35 PM


Originally Posted by amoroque (Post 256572)
That looks like a great day in the field! And it really sounds like you have your rifle dialed in.

Jeepcreep, come on out to CO anytime. We can shoot as many p dogs as you want.

It was a great day, indeed. The rifles that I use for more than casual fun are well dialed in, thanks.

When I bought the rifle I tried every load offered by Black Hills, Federal and Winchester and figured out that the only load that shot well was the Win 45gr. Every other load I tried was giving 3" to 8" groups at 100 yards. Rather than start working up a load (did not have the time back then) I just bought about 1600 rds of the Win 45gr. Still have about 1,000 of that left and a pile of once fired brass to reload when the rest is gone.

Precision rifles tend to be especially load sensitive and it takes some patience to find the one that works, or work one up.

amoroque 03-24-2010 07:17 PM

yeah, you definitely found the winning combo.

5 bullets in one hole at 100 yards, that is awesome!

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