Friday, January 14, 2011


Once upon a time summer was dragging. It had been a good year, rainfall was plentiful but the heat had been rough. The result was a great mast crop. All the trees were loaded, this promised a good deer season. Like many folks I didn’t have huge budgets to maintain massive food plots (still don’t by the way) and was glad to see acorns bending the limbs for a change.

September took it’s sweet time getting here but opening day was within sight. I got my bow and finished tuning up for that 4th Saturday in September, our permanent opening day. Then the weather forecast came in, clear, humid and hot, not just hot, 100+ degrees hot, but I don’t miss opening day.

20 yard group with my Bear, yes that is 4 arrows inside a coke bottle top.

Early morning Saturday, I headed over to my little corner of the woods and set up in my ground blind. Just walking to the stand left me soaked. It was so still, humid and hot that you just sat and dripped. No self respecting deer was going to come near me even if they did move. I sat muttering bad things about weathermen, deer, bugs, the stupidity of people that do this, Al Gore with his global warming, finally gave up and went home. All I saw was a herd of tree rats feeding in a tree 5 yards from my blind. They came from every direction and fed there all day showering me with their nut leavins. That night I sat reading online how no one was seeing deer and tried to figure a way to salvage the next day. I knew I wasn’t deer hunting again until something changed in the weather. I kept thinking about the squirrels, I do love me some fried squirrel or squirrel and dumplings. I got out my small game vest, air rifle and pellets. I had my plan. I love hunting small game but don’t go enough. This was a good excuse to fill the freezer.

The next morning it’s pushing 80 degrees at daylight. I slipped into my blind, this was just something I threw together using whatever brush I could find, so with no top, I can be comfortable and watch for squirrels. I had my folding chair, some water, Little Debbie snack cakes, my Gamo .177, a can of Gamo Hunter pellets and a fresh can of Off with Deet. Yesterday had proved the ferocity of local skeeters and tenacity of our ticks and chiggers. Now I needed a squirrel or ten.

The first squirrels started showing up just after sunrise. I waited to see if they were going to the same tree. Like yesterday each one made his way to the corner of the field where the feeding tree, a big white oak, grew. I let a couple get started cutting then picked one that was coming my way. I had to remind myself to be patient, this was an air rifle not a regular .22. The squirrel kept coming as I eased up from my chair to hide behind a tree. This gave me a good rest and when he got to about 15 yards I got a good look through the scope waiting for him to stop. He finally did before jumping to the next tree.

 The shot hit just under the chin and he spins, takes a couple of steps up the tree then comes down in a tail twirling freefall after a sweet back flip. A nice thud announces his contact with the ground. The other squirrels stop eating but an air rifle doesn’t make much noise. I stand still for a couple of minutes, they start cutting again. The scraping of teeth on shell, pieces of hulls falling through leaves making ticking sounds as they pile up on the ground mark each one. I ease over to retrieve my first of the morning. A .17 caliber pellet moving at over 1000 fps does a fine job stopping a charging rodent.

Slipping back to my chair I wait on the next one. It doesn’t take long. Leaves are thick making it hard to find them, I can see hulls fall and limbs shake but can’t get a shot I feel good about. No hurry since there are several using the same tree. A couple of minutes later one is coming down headfirst almost directly above me. I get braced, take up the slack on the trigger and hit this one behind the shoulder as he turns to go along a limb. Not even a twitch, just falls. That’s two.

 I watch as skeeters bash away at the barrier I set up with half a can of Off. Sprayed on me and all the bushes around me I am trying to confound them. So far it’s working but the heat is getting bad fast, I know I won‘t last long. It takes a little while for the woods to settle but before very long here comes #3. This one takes almost the same track as the last one. I line up, get my sight picture and drop another one. After gathering up those two with heat and bugs getting worse, I decide one more is enough.

My moving around plus the shooting has run off the few that were here. It takes some looking for me to pick up more movement. Limbs are moving in the distance in several places, a couple of them headed my way. I wish he would hurry up, my water is hot and my Little Debbie‘s are melting. The heat is bad, the skeeters are massing along the border, I’m ready to go home. It must have heard and starts my way.

I slip out of my chair and hide as it moves high in the trees. I watch limbs bending and shaking showing his path near the top of the mature trees. These are big oaks and maples, he is using the tops where the others had come in lower. I have to pay attention or lose him in the canopy. Staying hidden as he takes his time stopping to check a hole before coming in, I have a spot picked, if he comes through I will have my shot. Lucky for me he is following the same path as others did once he gets close. That unseen highway through the trees. At 20 yards he sits at the base of a limb, curled up, looking over the area. It is another easy shot and he hits the ground with a satisfying thump. I gather him up, take a few pictures and head home.

Rather than spend a day sitting at home my air rifle provided me with a morning of fun. An adult air rifle can run into some money, mine wasn’t cheap, but they provide a good challenge along with inexpensive ammo. Many places can turn into a range where you could never shoot regular guns. I hope to add a precharged pneumatic .22 and eventually a .45 or .50 caliber. The air gun challenge bit my long ago when I was a kid sitting on the porch with my Mom as she taught me to shoot with my lever action Daisy. Later I got a 760 Crosman which lasted for years, still one of my favorites. The guns available now are hard to believe, from the ones we had as kids to high dollar, high tech machines worthy of the target bench. If you are looking for a new facet to add to your outdoor experience this might be for you.

Disclaimer: All products mentioned were purchased by me. I am not affiliated with nor was I compensated by them.


texwisgirl said...

Good post. I felt the sweat dripping down my neck and heard the skeeters buzzing nearby. The Little Debbie snack cakes made me laugh though. :)

Tommy Ellis said...

@texwisgirl I love those Little Debbie's but they don't hold up in the heat or being sat on.

jlecherd said...

Nice shootin' Tommy

larryb said...

Nice post Tommy. I like the shot of your shoot'n iron and the four prizes. My kind of adventure and hunt'n on the cheap! :-) lb

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Born and raised in middle Tennessee.I'm a working wildlife and landscape artist specializing in watercolors. Now making cedar lures and custom turkey calls.



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