Front Yard Squirrels

Larry with gun and squirrel
Here is the first of the “unlucky” squirrels. He was way up in the top of the tree and my first shot was through the middle. He came down the tree a bit, to the first fork; my second shot was in the head.

Frankly, I haven’t hunted squirrels for many years; last time I used my Smith & Wesson K-22, 6” barrel revolver, without great success. When I was a kid, growing up in the country of northeast Missouri, and old enough to be out in the woods with a rifle, my brother Jerry and I hunted and shot lots of squirrels each summer. We used dad’s old Remington Model 12, .22 pump rifle, which I still have. We shot them, skinned them

Closeup of Remington Rolling Block #2, with box of ammo
This is a Remington Rolling Block #2 (circa 1880), chambered for .22 rim fire. Yes, that’s all original finish. The empty cartridge cases you see were embedded into the concrete on the sidewalk in front of our house, when we had it built in 1989.

and mom cooked them. Thinking back, it’s hard to imagine how many squirrels have been shot with that rifle.

It was kind of a perfect storm, the way things came together for this squirrel hunt. We have a great many oak trees in the front yard that were planted 30 years ago, when we had the house built. They’re mature now, though still growing, and dropping a great quantity of acorns each fall, which the squirrels bury in the mulched ground

Squirrel with stick through foot
When I was a kid, dad taught me how to carry squirrels (his squirrels). He cut a small, green limb about six inches long, peeled off the right and left toes from one of the back feet of the squirrel, and slid the stick through the opening.

around the trunks. But squirrels also eat the green acorns on the trees in the summer, so there is always a great deal of squirrel activity in the front yard.

Also, I bought a new rifle a short while back; well, not actually a new one, but a like-new old one. It’s a Remington #2 Rolling Block, chambered for .22 long, rim fire, and made about 1880. Beautiful gun! I opened up the chamber, ever so little­—by hand, using a .22

From front porch, looking toward front lake, with oak trees in foreground
Acorn trees (pin oak, red oak and sawtooth oak) in the front yard, are the reasons we have lots of squirrels. Of course, this being June, the new crop of acorns were not yet available, so they were still digging up the ones they stored last fall.

long rifle chambering reamer—so I could shoot the more accurate and more available .22 long rifle ammunition.

Now the shooting in the front yard could be while the squirrels were on the ground, or in the trees. Our house is not as remote in the country as sometimes I would like for it to be, so shooting squirrels on the ground and anticipating ricochets was not acceptable. Approaching the squirrels and forcing them up a tree, using the tree as a

Chambering reamer, with .22 long and .22 long rifle cartridges
Cases are the same length for .22 long and long rifle, but the long rifle bullet is typically 40 grains, versus 29 grains for the long, and visibly longer. The chambering reamer removes just a little metal from the leade (area between chamber and rifling), to accommodate the longer bullet. .22 Long cartridges were introduced about 1871 and the Long Rifle about 1884.

backstop, was the only option. Not a perfect option, as there are lots of leaves this time of year.

Sometimes squirrels don’t run far up the tree, before stopping and peeking around the trunk, thinking they’re safe. But you can still see part or most of their head. Other times, they go all the way to the top, which is a real challenge if there is any wind. Anyway, here I am, still living in the country and still hunting squirrels.

Squirrel with #2 Rolling Block Rifle
This was a big, old, red squirrel; more than half as long as the rifle, which is 40 inches in overall length.