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August 27, 2007

Early Season Squirrel Hunting Tactics

How to Bag Your Game in the Early Season

Squirrel season has opened in my state, and if it isn't open in yours yet, it will be soon if your state has a squirrel season. These, of course, are the tree-dwelling variety I am referring to, and which reward the successful hunter with a tasty treat at the end of the hunt.


Early in the season, squirrels are busy doing a few things.....building nests for the upcoming cold season, harvesting the ripening mast crops of acorns and other nut-bearing trees, and enjoying the thick tree canopy that allows them to travel almost unseen from a distance. Ah, but that canopy can also be their undoing to the attentive hunter.


One of the easiest ways to detect early-season squirrels is to simply look for branches that are moving contrary to their surroundings. If the wind isn't blowing, and the tree top is moving for a reason you cannot determine, chances are it is either Mr. Bushytail, or a bird, one of the two. Occasionally you'll find some other critter is responsible, but those two candidates are the normal culprits. If you pay attention, you will notice the swaying of branches caused by a moving squirrel tend to move differently than one caused by a bird.....the difference is subtle, but it is there. Squirrels almost always outweight birds that hop from limb to limb, and the weight of a squirrel causes a lengthier and more pronounced swaying of the limbs. And subsequent swayings are almost always adjacent to the first moving tree top that caught your attention since squirrels can't fly to another section of the tree and cause it to move. They use the tree itself for their highway.


Once you have determined that a squirrel is causing the commotion in the treetops, you can use the canopy against the squirrel to ease closer until you are comfortable with the range at which you are willing to take a shot. The squirrels will hold fast early in the season for longer periods of time than they will later in the season since they often believe they are well-hidden. A good pair of binoculars will aid in finding your prey when they are holding still.


In addition to the treetops, don't forget the forest floor. The last squirrel I shot this weekend was busy playing around the foot of the forest giants he lived in, and his playing brought him to within 10 yards of me before freezing in place at my presence. Unfortunately for him, he froze for too long and never did make another conscious move on his own since I claimed him with a shot from my .22 caliber airgun. Not only is the canopy above thick this time of year, but so is the ground cover, and neither of us realized the other was there until he came around the trunk of a tree while playing around.


This time of year, depending on the rainfall in your area, water sources can come into play as well. We are currently experiencing the worst drought in eight years in the midwest, and hanging around waterholes, ponds, creeks, and other sources of moisture can reap dividends as well. In the early season heat, I have the best luck early in the morning while things are still cool, and much later in the evening when twilight is approaching. The heat of the day is miserable for both man and beast, and ticks and other no-see-ums relish their chance at biting me when I spend too much time in the woods during the heat of the day.


A word of caution about the legal means of taking small game is in order. Before the season began, I perused the website of my state's DNR and noticed with some dismay that they had made a rule change that made all my .177 caliber airguns unusable for small game hunting. I am currently appealing this ruling, but for this year it stands, and I had to make sure that I had some .20 caliber or larger airguns on hand to do my small game hunting legally. So be sure that you are as legal as you were last year in your hunting methods so that your enjoyable hobby and outdoor pursuits are not sidetracked by your lack of keeping up with the rules. Nothing spoils a hunt quicker than being ticketed by the conservation officer who is just doing his/her job concerning you method of taking your game.


So pay attention to the canopy above, as well as the thick ground cover below while out chasing the tree squirrel around this year. And as the season changes the terrain, new tactics will come into play that will keep you bagging those squirrels hunt after hunt. We'll discuss more of them in later posts on this blog.


Hunt safe and have a great time in the outdoors.




August 20, 2007

Something for Everyone

Featured Airguns at Airgundepot

Airgun Depot has a really nice link on their home page. If you haven't had the chance to experience it, take a look at the "Featured Airguns" link found on the left side of the home page. By clicking on that link, you will find a page full of selections from their inventory that includes a little something for everyone.

Match Shooting Air Guns 

If you enjoy match shooting, there is the Daisy Avanti Champion 499, one of the most accurate BB guns made. And in pistols, you'll find the Daisy Avanti 747 Triumph, a sure winner for the accomplished target pistol shooter.

Airguns for the Hunter 

If hunting is more your style,  Benjamin's Model 392, as well as Crosman's Quest and Phantom rifles will catch your eye.....great rifles for small game hunting and pest control.

Realistic-looking Copies 

Perhaps realistic copies of firearms are more your style....then you need to take a look at the Beretta M92B, or perhaps Crosman's Model C11. There are several more possibilities in this category for you to look at as well.


If you like history and want a rifle that resembles something from the Old West, there is the lever-action Walther 1894, a copy of the classic Winchester rifle that won the West! Powered by dual CO2 powerlets, it delivers in the entertainment category for sure!


This category of featured airguns changes often, so drop by and take a look to see if there is something you need on sale or in stock for a limited time. By using this simple little link, many of your airgun shooting needs can be met without all the tedious searching that so many of us do while surfing the net. 



August 14, 2007

Walther CP99 Compact

The Walther CP99 Compact BB Gun 

It would be hard to find a more realistic-looking gun than the Walther CP99 Compact. Modeled after the backup gun used by certain special forces in the military, the gun features a 17-round clip that inserts into the grip just like a real firearm, blowback semi-auto action, and an accesory rail under the muzzle for lights or laser sights.


To charge the CP99 with CO2, open the back of the grip and twist the bottom of the handle. Insert the CO2 powerlet in place, twist the base of the grip back in the direction the directions indicate, and you have a charged gun ready for loading.


To load the gun, activate the ambidextrous magazine eject button found on the trigger guard. Slide the magazine out and push down the spring loaded rod, fixing it in the open position. Insert 17 BB's, and you are ready to put the magazine back in the gun.




I had a great time warming up to the use of this gun. I ran through a couple of CO2 powerlets and a tube of BB's in no time. When shooting over the chrony, I managed over 300 fps on a partial powerlet after some quick firing, so the gun handles the fast shooting that is so much fun very well. Extended fast shooting will cause the velocity to slow down as the CO2 cools, but give it a brief rest and you are back up to full power.



As I mentioned before, this gun is full of features. There is even a ready-to-fire indicator located at the back of the slide, and a short accessory rail under the muzzle for mounting the item of your choice.



The safety is a very positive item that will not accidentally release. You have to purposefully change the safety setting, and it takes a firm push to move the safety from safe to fire. This is an excellent feature that keeps the shooter's mind on safety.


With a smoothbore barrel, the accuracy is just fine for the close range shooting this pistol is designed for. An excellent trainer for real firearms, with the look and feel, as well as the realistic features found on the CP99.....this gun lends itself well to at-home practice for those who use real firearms in the course of their work.  

At $78.90, the price at the time of this article, the CP99 fills a niche as the most realistic CO2 gun that I have reviewed so far. And it is so fun to shoot that BB's will quickly be expended, so buy the bulk pack when you fill your ammo coffers in anticipation of shooting this little gun. And remember that this gun uses BB's only, and the ricochet characteristics of steel BB's versus lead pellets needs to cross your mind as you are setting up your shooting range. Be safe, and have a great time with Walther's CP99. 

August 06, 2007

Walther's Nighthawk

The Walther Nighthawk 

When you open up the case containing your new Walther Nighthawk, you will be greeted by a sight similar to the one above. Neatly contained in its own little area, you will find a Walther Nighthawk, a flashlight, a pressure switch for said flashlight, two rotary magazines for the gun, batteries for the flashlight, allen wrenches for fastening accessories tightly to your gun.....everything you need to be up and running in short area......except for pellets. You'll have to buy your own!


Once assembled, your air gun should look something like the picture below, but with 4 weaver-style rails, you can designate where all the accessories attach:


Where you place the pressure switch to operate the flashlight is up to you, though the cord is short and will limit your options somewhat. However, once you have it mounted and powered-up with the included batteries, you are ready to do some fun plinking in dim light!


The mock silencer is attached to the gun, but unscrews readily. The exposed threads at the end of the barrel can be covered with an attractive thread-cover, if that look is what you prefer. One nice effect of having the mock silencer attached is that in warm weather, you get a slight smoke from the end of the barrel due to the CO2 gas working its way out. The silencer does not reduce the report of the gun, it is for looks only. But if you are into realism, this is an excellent choice for the hobby shooter!


To load the gun, first install a powerlet into the grip of the gun. Remove the grip by depressing the button that, on a real gun, would eject the magazine from the handle. On the Nighthawk, this serves to eject the powerlet chamber, and you have to install the powerlet in the holder. Follow the directions in the manual as the first time you do this you may be a little confused. You have to turn the bottom of the powerlet holder two different directions to make the CO2 gas flow as needed into the gun.

Once your CO2 is installed, take a practice shot with no magazine in the gun to see if you did it properly. Once your gun is firing gas, then open the slide by depressing the button you see under my thumb in this next picture. The slide will pop forward and you can install a loaded 8-shot rotary magazine. Close the slide, and you are ready to shoot!



The safety is found on the right side of the gun, and the gun operates in double-action only mode, meaning that each squeeze of the trigger has the same resistance, and there is no exposed hammer to cock. So squeeze off your 8 shots, pop open the slide, insert your next pre-loaded magazine, and you can fire off 16 shots very quickly indeed. As a can mangler, this air gun will please many a shooter.

I loaded a fresh CO2 powerlet into the Nighthawk and started placing holes in a can. I ran a shot or two across the chrony and came up with a velocity of 342 fps with .177 caliber wadcutters. This is more than enough for plinking and can-mangling at short range, which is what the Nighthawk is designed for. And it is SO real looking, it will amaze you!



The Nighthawk comes with a reddot sight already installed which includes 11 settings, and all you need to do is to center the dot on target and you are ready to go! A fun, realistic-shooting airgun that won't break your hobby budget, coming in at only $159.00 at the time of this article. So enjoy shooting this gun...but buy lots of pellets, cause you are going to need them! 

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