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Ponderosa Pines, Tassel Eared Squirrels, and the FX 2000.


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#1 VarmintAir

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 08:28 AM

Seven thousand feet up in the mountains of Northern Arizona stands the largest Ponderosa Pine Forest on earth. Among the many creatures large and small that reside in that forest is the Abert's Squirrel, also known as the "Tassel Eared Squirrel" because of the tufts of hair on the end of each large ear.I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon slipping through the woods with my .22 cal. FX 2000 in pursuit of Mr. Tassel Ear. I had never hunted this area before, but as I was 4 wheeling into the area I liked what I saw. There were a lot of mature 80 to 100 foot tall Ponderosa Pines. I have found that these trees are a favorite of the Abert's squirrels.The crowns of these trees are loaded with pine cones. Said pine cones are the favorite food of Mr. Tassel Ear. As I was digging out my gear I marveled at the pure beauty of a Fall day in the woods. There was almost no wind, the temperature was in the mid sixties, the sun was bright, the sky was clear, and the air was pure and sweet as always. Nothing but beautiful forest for as far as the eye could see, which in this case, was maybe 300 yards. LOL.After getting my hunting gear sorted out, I locked my vehicle and headed out south east. This put the sun at my back. It makes it easier to spot movement in the tree tops when the sun isn't in my eyes. I find that the squirrels like to spend time in the crown's of the Ponderosa's, leisurely feeding on the pine cones. While in pursuit of the seeds the cones hold, a squirrel can field strip a pine cone with amazing skill and speed.Once finished, they drop the spent cone to the forest floor. When scouting an area for squirrel hunting, these spent cones on the forest floor are what I'm searching for. The area I hunted in yesterday was loaded with them.I was slowly hunting along, when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted motion in a pine off to my left. It turned out that the motion was caused by a chipmunk dashing up the trunk of the tree. As I was watching it, I spotted a flash of white in the crown of the same tree. Sure enough, 80 or 90 feet up in the crown of the tree there was an Abert's squirrel moving from limb to limb. The underside of these squirrels is white. LET THE GAMES BEGIN. I could see occasional movement up there, but with all the limbs and pine needles, I couldn't really get a clear shot. I tried slowly moving to different places around the tree, but to no avail. I finally decided to back off about 50 yards and bide my time. I put my back up against a nice big pine and just waited. There were times that the only way I knew he was still there was because I could see the branches moving, but I couldn't actually see the squirrel.He finally started working his way over to my side of the tree. I started carefully watching his movements through my binoculars. He finally popped out on a branch that gave me a decent shot, providing I could slip the pellet through a few small branches and pine needles. I got the shot lined up, I'm 50 yards away and he's about 80 feet up in the tree so I held a bit low. When the shot broke, I heard the pellet hit the branch he was sitting on. He was instantly gone. I HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS. LOL.LET THE GAMES BEGIN (AGAIN). I tracked him with my binos for another ten minutes before I had a chance at another shot. This time he was in the clear and looking right at me. I put a Kodiak dead center in his chest. Down he came with the usual sounds a stone dead squirrel makes while falling 80 feet through the branches and twigs. He landed with that satisfying THUMP that indicates the journey has ended.I got two more squirrels in the next hour, but one of them, after dropping about 30 feet, hung in the crotch of a branch. I hit him once more with a Kodiak in the hopes of jarring him loose, but no luck. The next one was sitting on a stump at 53 yards field stripping a pine cone. I hit him through the heart lung area, and much to my surprise, he just folded in place. Not even a twitch. A lot of times, with heart lung shots, I expect to see quite a bit of flipping and flopping. Not this time though. This guy was definitely Bubba. He was one heavy, healthy squirrel.The shadows were getting long, and the air was starting to get a little cool, so I took a picture, picked up my prize and started the hike back to my rig. It was an end to an absolutely perfect day in the piney woods Daniel Boonin' for squirrels.Here are some pics from the days hunt.Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

#2 THE KNOT

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 08:55 AM

Nice job of putting us in arizona cliff makes a man want to move there . Lots of greys around my way this yr and i've been having fun it's so relaxing waiting to hear the thud after a good shot

#3 ShooterJohn

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 09:11 AM

Now that's what I call a story and nature lesson all rolled into one. Great stuff Cliff I found myself thinking I was there too. That squirrel is a MONSTER or you have tiny guns made for props. :rolleyes: Now I not only want an FX2000 I want to move to Arizona so that I can hunt in the piney woods. :014: Great shooting there Mr. Boone--Daniel Boone that is! :good:

#4 VarmintAir

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 10:12 AM

Nice job of putting us in arizona cliff makes a man want to move there . Lots of greys around my way this yr and i've been having fun it's so relaxing waiting to hear the thud after a good shot

Thanks. These guys are way in the heck up in the tops of these trees. Some of them go 140/150 feet. It's a real challenge trying to pick them out of these things, but when you do connect, there is some serious free fall time on their way down.

#5 VarmintAir

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 10:17 AM

Now that's what I call a story and nature lesson all rolled into one. Great stuff Cliff I found myself thinking I was there too. That squirrel is a MONSTER or you have tiny guns made for props. :rolleyes: Now I not only want an FX2000 I want to move to Arizona so that I can hunt in the piney woods. :014: Great shooting there Mr. Boone--Daniel Boone that is! :014:

Thanks John, it was fun doing it, and also fun writing about it. Yeah, at some point you will have to score an FX 2000, or one of it's many variants. The two AoA had for sale were the Tarantula variant. One was $595 and the other was LNIB for $695. Keep watching, they do show up there fairly often.Do you know if anyone makes coon skin hats in Hunter Safety Orange? :good:

#6 ShooterJohn

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 10:31 AM

Maybe CoyoteHuntress can make you a Hunter Safety Orange coon skin hat! :good: Heck I just want to move to AZ and live in the piney woods. I better buy a hand pump first. :rolleyes:

#7 Heywood

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 12:00 PM

Oooo I'm telling... You used a powder burner. You're rep is done for :good: Nice job those are some good looking squirrels. :rolleyes:

#8 Bozsik

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 12:14 PM

Great story. How do those squirrels taste? They look like they would have a fair bit of meat on their bones.db

#9 Braz

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 12:55 PM

Great story to go along with great pictures. Thanks, it's appreciated. I love that forest up there.

#10 RonB

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 04:07 PM

You guys are KILLING me with these pics of guns, squirrels, and beautiful country!!I need to move west!Is this private land, or are there public public hunting areas out west like this?Yuma County Arizona is beging for law enforcement folks to apply....Is that anywhere close? lol

#11 Rimrock

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 05:00 PM

Thanks for sharing that. You write as well as you shoot. Great story and pictures.

#12 ShooterJohn

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 05:07 PM

Ron, that's all 400 square miles of National Forrest he's hunting there. Near Flag Staff, AZ.

#13 VarmintAir

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 05:34 PM

Oooo I'm telling... You used a powder burner. You're rep is done for :smiley-funny-post-sign: Nice job those are some good looking squirrels. :smiley_turkey_pop_up_log:

That's funny. :lol: Actually, what I was trying to do was to put the pistol in the picture to give some perspective as to how big these squirrels are, but it didn't really work because it makes them look even larger than they really are. Oh well. :hellohello9il:

#14 VarmintAir

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 05:36 PM

Great story. How do those squirrels taste? They look like they would have a fair bit of meat on their bones.db

They are very tasty. I give them to my neighbor and he de-bones them, marinates them, and then fixes them in a stir fry served over rice. Good stuff.

#15 VarmintAir

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 05:51 PM

Great story to go along with great pictures. Thanks, it's appreciated. I love that forest up there.

Thanks, glad you liked the story. This place is truly amazing. Within a 30 minute drive of the house I have three National forest to roam around in. The Coconino. the Kaibab, and the Prescott. Millions of acres of playground and hardly anybody in it. :smiley_turkey_pop_up_log:

#16 ShooterJohn

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 05:53 PM

That is one of the BIGGEST squirrels I've ever seen that's for sure. It's SQUIRRELZILLA!!! :smiley_turkey_pop_up_log:

#17 VarmintAir

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 06:07 PM

You guys are KILLING me with these pics of guns, squirrels, and beautiful country!!I need to move west!Is this private land, or are there public public hunting areas out west like this?Yuma County Arizona is beging for law enforcement folks to apply....Is that anywhere close? lol

Look at Coconino County. YUMA SUCKS. It's in the Southwest part of the state. Hotter than blazes in the summer. Coconino County is at 6000 to 7000 feet in the mountains. I have three National Forests within a 30 minute drive of the house. It's millions of acres of play ground, and lots of fishing and hunting.

#18 VarmintAir

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 06:09 PM

Thanks for sharing that. You write as well as you shoot. Great story and pictures.

Thanks for the compliment. Glad you enjoyed the story. I sure had a lot of fun living it. I consider myself very lucky to be able to live in a place like this.

#19 ShooterJohn

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 06:11 PM

Look at Coconino County. Coconino County is at 6000 to 7000 feet in the mountains. I have three National Forests within a 30 minute drive of the house. It's millions of acres of play ground, and lots of fishing and hunting.

:smiley-funny-post-sign: Look now Cliff is part of the Arizona Tourist Bureau! :smiley_turkey_pop_up_log:

#20 VarmintAir

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 08:39 PM

:hellohello9il: Look now Cliff is part of the Arizona Tourist Bureau! :smiley-funny-post-sign:

Actually, now that I think about it Ron, you probably don't want to come to a place like this. It's totally covered in these disgusting pine trees. You can't see the air, so god only knows what you might be breathing. There are elk and deer and bear in the woods. The disgusting things poop just about everywhere out there. Sometimes you will see the elk in gangs of five or six hundred, and being in law enforcement, you know how bad gangs can be. There are lots of fish here, but I won't even start to get into what the fishes do in the waters around here. You don't really want to know, but it's not a very pretty sight.The other thing that really annoys me about Northern Arizona is, there just aren't enough people here. So few in fact, that there just isn't anybody writing on the walls and sides of buildings and stuff. I really miss getting to look at, and read, the latest efforts of the local graffiti artists on my way to the store. No drive by shootings, and haven't heard of a home invasion robbery since we've been here. The local paper is about as boring a rag as you can find. They actually publish the local Police Log in the daily paper and it's usually just a few DUI busts. In todays paper there was a short story about a Flagstaff Cop that spotted a couple of girls writing their names in some freshly poured cement. He busted them for misdemeanor property defacement. We do have some seriously exciting crime taking place in this here town. I haven't given anyone the finger while driving in so long I'm not sure I still know what it means, or which finger to use.Now that I think about it, if I had to do it over again................................................................... I'd still move here in a heart beat. :lol: :smiley_turkey_pop_up_log:

#21 ShooterJohn

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 09:36 PM

:smiley-funny-post-sign: :hellohello9il: :smiley_turkey_pop_up_log: Now that's more like it!

#22 RonB

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 04:05 AM

Now thats Hilarious!!15 more years to work..then I'm going to do something..it's getting way too crowded around here.Beautiful pics and review Cliff, it's nice to know there is still some America out there.

#23 Crosis

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 06:39 AM

The other thing that really annoys me about Northern Arizona is, there just aren't enough people here. So few in fact, that there just isn't anybody writing on the walls and sides of buildings and stuff. I really miss getting to look at, and read, the latest efforts of the local graffiti artists on my way to the store. No drive by shootings, and haven't heard of a home invasion robbery since we've been here. The local paper is about as boring a rag as you can find. They actually publish the local Police Log in the daily paper and it's usually just a few DUI busts. In todays paper there was a short story about a Flagstaff Cop that spotted a couple of girls writing their names in some freshly poured cement. He busted them for misdemeanor property defacement. We do have some seriously exciting crime taking place in this here town. I haven't given anyone the finger while driving in so long I'm not sure I still know what it means, or which finger to use.Now that I think about it, if I had to do it over again................................................................... I'd still move here in a heart beat. :signlol2iu: :signlol2iu:

Pretty much just described Brentwood, its really quiet here... Most of the people wave to each other as they drive by, a large majority of the neighbors hang out in the neighborhoods... Its a farming town and everyone seems to stay pretty close...

#24 VarmintAir

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 06:52 AM

Now thats Hilarious!!15 more years to work..then I'm going to do something..it's getting way too crowded around here.Beautiful pics and review Cliff, it's nice to know there is still some America out there.

I'll tell you what. After 44 years in the greater Los Angeles area, and seeing that place turn into an overflowing toilet, Flagstaff is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one. Check it out sometime. :signlol2iu:

#25 ShooterJohn

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 08:42 AM

Ok, everybody load up the campers and trailers it looks like a road trip to Cliff's house! :signlol2iu:

#26 CoyoteHuntress

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 08:59 AM

You are a great writer! You should write for the magazines LOLAwesome squirrel too :signlol2iu: Sure looks bushy

#27 RonB

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 09:23 AM

Ok, everybody load up the campers and trailers it looks like a road trip to Cliff's house! :signlol2iu:

I have a 28 footer just sitting in the barn lot. It can sleep 5 if they sleep alone. Sleeps 7 if somebody who needs a ride don't mind sharing a bunk. Me, I aint sharing!

#28 ShooterJohn

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 09:24 AM

You need one of those squirrels as a mount Rae.

#29 VarmintAir

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 10:29 AM

You are a great writer! You should write for the magazines LOLAwesome squirrel too :signlol2iu: Sure looks bushy

Thanks, I'm glad you like my style, if you call it that. LOL. I just have fun hunting, and enjoy sharing the experience with like minded people.These "Tassel Eared Squirrels" are definitely the biggest squirrels I've ever seen. I think part of the equation here, is the fact that it gets pretty cold here in the winter, and these guys do not hibernate. I see them out around our place in blowing snow storms looking for food. Their coats are really thick and soft. The thing that is amazing though, is their tails. These things are huge, thick, and plush. I'm sure they wrap themselves in it in their nests. A squirrel version of an electric blanket. :signlol2iu:

#30 SAGITARUS

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 10:53 AM

I enjoyed your story. It was well written. It makes your reader imagine themself being there at the scene with you....and with such a healthy environment should expect to yield some healthy faunas as well. Please give us more of your airgun hunting advertures with pix. Thank you.




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