John's Journal...


The Right Gear Makes A Difference

Editor’s Note: My Remington 543 Sporter cracked. The lead from the .22 long rifle rudely introduced itself to the gray squirrel 60-yards away. As I saw the squirrel fall, I marked the spot and waited. Through my binoculars, I spied in less than two minutes another squirrel on the tree next to the willow oak where I had harvested the first squirrel. Once more I mounted my rifle. When the crosshairs on my 3-9X riflescope came to rest on the squirrel's shoulder, I squeezed the trigger again. The second squirrel fell. Before the report of my rifle died, I heard a chattering in the treetops. I looked to my right 40 yards and spotted a third squirrel that had come out of its hole to bark at the report of my rifle. This squirrel met the same fate as the first two. Although I waited for another squirrel to appear, 10 minutes passed, and I failed to see another target. After picking up the squirrels, I moved back to the power line right-of-way deep in the woods where I had hunted and then walked briefly toward my next bushytail encounter.

Many who hunt deer like to brag about making 300 yard or more shots on whitetails. However, I consider anyone who can take a squirrel at 60 to 80 yards with a .22 rifle much more of a marksman. You'll find the .22 bullet smaller than the larger-caliber bullets used for taking deer, the target much smaller and fewer margins for error. But to make these long shots at bushytails, you must have the right equipment. Those who deer hunt often pay high prices for quality equipment because they consider whitetail hunting the glamour sport in the hunting fraternity. However, when you consider that in many states, you only can take one to three deer each season and the season only may last for a week or two, a deer rifle doesn't provide nearly the amount of hunting opportunity as a smaller .22 rifle does. Squirrel season in much of the south extends to the end of February. And, in Missouri, for instance, hunters can start back hunting squirrels in June. To shoot accurately at long distances, you need to purchase one of the finer-grade .22 rifles on the market. A quality rifle that shoots accurately over long distances may be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. Often when you buy one superior squirrel rifle, you rarely will have to purchase another .22. I got my old Remington 543 Sporter almost two decades ago. I've hunted every squirrel season since with it in all types of terrain and weather, and it still shoots as accurately as it did when I took it out of the box.

Although many who hunt squirrels buy quality .22 rifles, they often put 4X scopes or 2-7X scopes on them. But I've discovered to reach out and touch these bushytails at long range, I prefer a 3-9X riflescope. To squirrel hunt, one of my favorite hunting sports, effectively and accurately, I need a good rifle, a quality scope and also the best binoculars I can buy. I'll only find the rifle and the scope effective if I can see the squirrel. Spotting a bushytail lying on the limb at 60 yards will test even Superman's X-ray vision without binoculars and a riflescope. However, from 60 to 80 yards with these optics, I can distinguish the difference between a squirrel's tail swishing or a bird's wings flapping. I also can determine if a bump on a limb is a squirrel's head or a knot on the limb. I particularly enjoy lightweight binoculars that have superior light-gathering qualities, which many optics companies offer today. Using quality optics enables me to bag bushytails at long range.

Also like most squirrel hunters, I wear camouflage clothing. Early in the year, I like the green-leaf patterns. However, when the leaves leave the trees, I prefer a more bark-type camo because the forest floor will have more browns and tree-type structure present. If the trees and bushes have little foliage, I wear a full headnet and gloves like I do when I hunt turkeys. Like a soldier, the squirrel hunter lives or dies in his boots. Because I like to hunt all day, I rank foot comfort as very important. If I hunt under dry-weather conditions where I have few if any streams to cross, I wear the most-comfortable and supportive boots I can buy. In wet woods or when I know I'll have to wade creeks, mudholes or sloughs, I wear knee-high, uninsulated rubber boots. When squirrel hunting, I like to wear some type of game-coat or hunting vest with a gamebag on the back, not only for carrying my squirrels but also for packing my lunch, a compass, my long rifle shells and squirrel calls. I always carry a wide variety of squirrel calls including barkers, cutters and distress calls, from various companies. On different days and under various conditions, I may use any or all of these calls, because I've found that on some days some calls may work better than others.

To learn more about squirrel calls, type the words, “Squirrel Calls,” into a Google search on the web, and see what it brings up. For more information on Remington’s .22 rifles, go to To learn more about camouflaged clothing, type the words, “Camouflaged Clothing” into Google.



Check back each day this week for more about BUSHYTAILS - THE RIFLEMAN'S SPORT

Day 1 - The Right Gear Makes A Difference
Day 2 - Hill Topping & Bunch Hunting
Day 3 - Boat Hunting
Day 4 - Float-Trip Planning
Day 5 - Tree Standing



Entry 287, Day 1