Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Spoke too soon....

Well, after thinking I had finally dealt with the evil, squirrel turns out I was wrong.

There's not one squirrel that's made my bedroom roof its home...there's a whole fricking colony.

How do I know this? Because not five minutes after I laid down today, I was jolted awake by the sound of a bowling ball hitting the roof. You wouldn't think a half-pound animal could make that much noise.

Well, later that day, I decided a walk might loosen up my back a little, so I went for a walk around the property. I stopped for a while at the fishing pond in the middle of the woods behind the house. Can you guess what I saw?

Squirrels, squirrels everywhere.

Of course, because I didn't have my rifle with me, I counted no less than six or seven incredibly easy (and above all safe) shots I could have taken. Normally you'll only spot a squirrel at least 50-60 yards away, where they'll only stand still for incredibly brief periods of time before darting off. While I was out there today, I saw squirrels just chilling out, rock still, on branches that were only 20-30 yards away.

Seriously, I'd have had to go instantly blind to miss them. .

So I do what anyone who's been woken by squirrels every morning for the past two months would do...I went back to the house, grabbed my rifle and went back to the woods.

I waited there, absolutely perfectly still, at the foot of a tree for over an hour. Apparently, in the five minutes it took me to get back to the house and get my rifle...the squirrels had all changed their names, disguised themselves as housecats, moved out of state and joined the Squirrel Protection Program.

All except one...that little barsteward decided to put in an appearance right after I'd unloaded my rifle for the walk back to the house. Then, as I tried to reload as quickly and silently as possible, it ran through the trees like spiderman, stopping only when it was to the south of me...the one direction I can't safely shoot in.

Over the next few weeks, I expect a 'Caddyshack' situation to develop.

Anyway, just to answer Saffy's comment about how I must be a good shot to hit a squirrel...well, not really.

You see, the hardest part of rifle shooting is sighting in the rifle (making sure the bullets actually land at the crosshair at a given distance) and being able to judge your distance to the target and windage.

For example, I know my rifle and ammo combo will hit dead on at 25 yards, hit half an inch low at 50 yards, two inches at 75 and 6 inches low at a hundred yards. I also know that a 10-20mph crosswind will knock my point of impact off by about an inch and a half.

In other words, all I have to do is put the crosshair on the target out to 50 yards and aim a little higher at 75, which is my self-imposed limit on distance. Basically, with a squirrel, you have a 2" by 3" target to hit, which really isn't all that hard with a decent scope and a steady hand.

From the prone position, using a sandbag as a rest, I can hit a quarter-sized target at 75 yards. A squirrel isn't a big problem, especially considering they're pretty fragile. Hit them pretty much anywhere from the top of the head to the base of their ribcage and you've got an instant kill.

I think if I can get three or four this week, I'm going to earn my redneck blackbelt and make some squirrel chilli. I'll let you know how it goes.

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