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.