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Friday afternoon varmint hunt


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#1 ratassassin

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 11:15 AM

Last week, a friend from work sent me an e-mail asking me to grab my rifle because cottontails have been ravaging her lawn. They have a beautiful garden and she’s going to be hosting her son’s wedding at their house. She’s afraid the cottontails will leave large deadspots in the lawn just in time for the wedding. She also said the ground squirrel population has doubled this year and they’re causing lots of damage. So yesterday after work, my buddy and I headed over there to help out with depredation control. When we got there, she showed us where the cottontails and ground squirrels were causing all the damage. Sure enough, the rabbits were eating the lawn down to the dirt. Almost immediately, we saw 3 ground squirrels at the end of the 12 acre parcel, where they come up out of a ravine into her property. We sat down on a couple of railroad ties and I shot one offhand at 50 yards with my R9 Goldfinger .177 and a Beeman FTS 8.9 gr. After the telltale thwack, the critter escaped into the bushes. At my shot, two others spooked so we started walking and stalking. A couple hundred yards away towards the North side of the property, the ground squirrels had a real town going. My buddy shot one offhand at 25 yards with his TX200 HC .177 and a JSB Exact 8.4 gr. It dropped and started kicking so he finished it off. I shot another one offhand at 30 yards and it escaped down into its hole, despite a solid hit. My buddy shot another at 35 yards before they got wise and started staying down. We moved on. Eventually, my buddy spotted a ground squirrel’s head sticking up from behind a wall about 20 yards away watching us. He cocked his preloaded TX, aimed and fired offhand. Thwack! I saw the dirt kick up in a cloud behind the critter’s head after the pellet slammed home, knocking it over behind the wall. After a bit of more walking around, I was setting up a camp chair to sit on and heard a noise behind me. Turning, I saw a large gopher stick its fat head up out of a hole only 5 yards away! Up, down, up, down its head went peeking and ducking into the hole. I slowly backed away, setting the parallax on my scope to 10 yards and cocking the R9. Thwock! The gopher’s head snapped back at the impact and it flopped half out of the hole. I saw another ground squirrel and ranged it with my rangefinder 50 yards out. I had a great rested shot off my knees sitting in the camp chair, checked my trajectory map and noted my POI would be about a half inch high at 50 yards. The squirrel stood up on its hind legs, a perfect target. I held a little low and fired. Thwack! My FTS slammed home to the boiler room, knocking the squirrel over backwards several times. I love my R9. It’s just such a pleasure to hunt with. Spot on accurate, powerful enough and always my go-to gun for 25-50 yard urban pest control. Plus, because it’s a break barrel, I can load it quickly without much effort to get on target, and can uncock it unfired if the target moves away before I can take the shot. My buddy went back to work the squeek town and I heard him take a couple shots. He’s a great offhand shot and I knew there would be a couple more bodies out there. Meanwhile, I’d spotted some more activity toward the back of the property and set up my camp chair. A fat squirrel was poking around 45 yards away. As I was ranging it, I saw out of the corner of my eye a head poke up out of the ground off to my right. Another gopher! I decided to shoot the squirrel first as it was the highest priority due to the damage they cause. I took aim, accounting for my hold under and fired. Thwack! The squirrel rolled over and crawled off into the bushes, its hind end dragging. It must have started moving as I pulled the trigger. They don’t stand still long!After my shot, I looked off to the right to see if that gopher was still there. Yup, there he was still looking at me. I ranged him at 21 yards away and steadied my rifle, resting my elbows on my knees. I have a 10 yard zero on the R9 and according to my trajectory map, POI would be 1-inch high. So I held low, placing the crosshairs right where the gopher’s chest met the ground. Thwack! I saw the gopher’s head snap back and disappear. Darn, I thought. Went down its hole. But when I looked around for it, I found it had just pulled back a bit into its hole and was sitting there dead in the pocket. I checked on my friend and sure enough, he had 2 more dead squirrels. We walked back towards the main house and I met my friend’s father, who is 90 years old and going blind. “Got any trophies?” he asked, smiling. I said we’d gotten 8 ground squirrels and 2 gophers. “That’s great,” he said. “Get as many as you can!” We chatted a bit more and then I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye. I spotted a cottontail moving onto their main lawn, 25 yards away. “Excuse me, sir.” I told my friend’s dad. “There’s a rabbit over there I’m going to get.” I ranged the rabbit, aimed an inch and a quarter low and fired, striking the rabbit in the neck. It rolled around, kicking. So I walked up point blank and put one in its head to end its suffering. Good going, her dad told me. Later, my buddy got another one of the rabbits. But we didn’t get any more because they’ve been spooked a lot by my friend and her family who try to shoo them away to prevent them from doing damage. So all told, we got 8 ground squirrels, 2 gophers and 2 rabbits. My friend was really grateful and said she’ll gladly have us back if she has more trouble. Better yet, she said her neighbor who lives on the hill behind her asked if we’d shoot his ground squirrels because they’re undermining the hill his house sits on. Are you kidding? And how. So we’re going to head over there and get written permission to hunt there, too!What a great way to start the weekend. Here's some photos. Sorry for the crappy cell phone pictures. It's all I had on me. We saw a couple blood trails leading back to the ground squirrel holes so some of the mortally wounded ones made it back underground.RAGopher #2 taking a permanent dirt nap in its hole after meeting up with my FTS pellet at 21 yards.Posted ImageOne very dead ground squirrel.Posted ImageAnother one bites the dust.Posted ImageThis one looks like it has been nursing. Don't like leaving little ones to starve but the ground squirrels have to go.Posted Image

#2 acousticmood

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 11:58 AM

uhhhh....you might want to be careful about shooting the cotton tails and then posting about it. It is out of season right now and unless you had a depredation permit you have posted on line for all to see an illegal act.

#3 ratassassin

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 01:25 PM

Thanks. We had written permission from the landowner to control them in the act of depredation and we saw the damage they were causing. DFG's Mammal Hunting Regs don't mention this but there was a California Attorney General opinion I remember reading on this issue that leads me to believe depredation control of cottontails with air rifles is not hunting but is pest control not prohibited by the Fish & Game Code. Here's the link:http://ag.ca.gov/cms...1-11_06-109.pdfThe opinion states: "In essence, we reasoned that if rabbits are causing material harm to crops, including ornamental plants, they constitute “pests” rather than “game.” (Id. at p. 47.) Consequently, the restrictions on hunting birds and mammals contained in the Fish and Game Code, as implemented and enforced by the Commission and Department, do not apply to the trapping or killing of rabbits as part of a “pest” control effort. No hunting license or other specific authorization from the Commission or the Department is required to control an infestation of rabbits. (Id. at p. 46.) By the same token, the Commission and the Department do not have the statutory authority to prohibit the use of pest control methods to eradicate an infestation of rabbits."California Fish & Game Code Section 4186 states: “Nothing in this code prohibits the owner or tenant of land, or any person authorized in writing by such owner or tenant, from taking cottontail or brush rabbits during any time of the year when damage to crops or forage is being experienced on such land. Any person other than the owner or tenant of such land shall have in possession when transporting rabbits from such property written authority from the owner or tenant of land where such rabbits were taken. Rabbits taken under the provision of this code may not be sold.” http://law.onecle.co.../fish/4186.htmlAlso, I found that the Department of Fish & Game says the following as well: "If you or your [homeowners'] association decides all of these passive persuasions are not enough and more drastic measures are needed, a ruling by the Attorney General in 2006 now authorizes that cottontails and brush rabbits may be killed at any time if they are found to be damaging landscaping, ornamental plants, crops and/or gardens (FGC Section 4186.)"http://www.dfg.ca.go...09/20090702.aspThanks again for raising the question. I am a licensed hunter and do my best to comply with the laws.

#4 Braz

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 02:58 PM

That is great information to have posted here. Thanks.
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#5 acousticmood

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 04:55 PM

Plus 1 on that.thanks for the information - very educational.Thanks.

#6 Mr Del

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 05:44 PM

Plus 2 on the education material. Good stuff!!

#7 ratassassin

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 07:14 PM

You betcha. Unfortunately, DFG's Mammal Hunting Regulations are very misleading as written. They make a general statement that you have to obtain a depredation permit before taking mammals that are causing depredation, but they completely fail to mention that a permit is NOT necessary for cottontails that are causing damage according to California law. That's not fair and DFG needs to correct its regs.

#8 fishandhunt4ever

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 10:26 PM

Good stuff on taking care of the rodents. Pests sure can cause real damage to propery.

#9 THE KNOT

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 04:19 AM

thats some sweet work if you can get it nice gophers ground squirelles and Wabbits good living out west . Here things took a turn for the better over at the property where i shoot rats and pest birds the recued feral cat and it's owner have been fired from the resturant bar leaving the 85 acres safe from all day killing and low and behold i saw my first rabbit in 5 years less that a week later . Looks like i will fill my frezzer once again this up comming season Also a mom and pop red fox has been stalking the chicken coop with 2 young pups oct cant get here fast enough for me . Nice shooting RA another entertaining post

#10 DownRangeImpact

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 08:43 AM

A gopher with an airgun should be as prized as a prong horn antelope with a cartridge rifle. They hardly ever stop moving and to stop one in its tracks is ethical hunting as good as it gets.ALWAYS keep DFG officials in the loop of any pest control/depredation duties and you'll be the friend of all concerned.Great piece. I am doing very similar work right now here in Illinois.




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