Many believe hunting squirrels is the child’s play of the hunting realm. I disagree. Squirrels are elusive little buggers, alert and quick. So, filling your bag with squirrels can make for a challenging and fun day in the woods, or your own back yard, if you’re so inclined and can do so safely. But, how to kill squirrels with a pellet gun takes skill. Become adept at killing squirrels with a bow and arrow, and you will find your hunting skills have reached a whole new level of awesome.
Time for some blunt truth and self-awareness.
I enjoy squirrel hunting because I can sleep in on a Saturday and still have a great day of hunting ahead of me. That’s because squirrels are most active in daylight, mornings and afternoons precisely. I do not have to hole up in a freezing deer stand for hours trying not to fall asleep while waiting for a deer. And, once I get a squirrel, I can toss it in my bag rather than drag a big, heavy carcass through the woods. Yep, I like a challenge, but I’m not too keen on cold temps, dark woods, or manual labor.
So, how do you hunt squirrels?
First, squirrels don’t like noise, but human beings are noisy. So, if you really want to up your badass hunter game, stalk squirrels through the woods. Bagging a squirrel this way requires extreme patience and self control. To stalk squirrels, the hunter should take very quiet steps, only two or three at a time. After each round of steps, scan the area for squirrels. Then, stealthily line up your shots. Yes, I said shots. Two shots is best for killing squirrels. The first will hopefully kill it, but the second shot is your “safety net” shot. A merely wounded squirrel will run and hide. Good luck finding it.
Stalk or wait, you decide.
Another method is the “waiting” approach to killing squirrels with a pellet gun. For this, the hunter will locate an area with lost of acorns and other nuts—where squirrels gather, you hunt. Pick out a big, comfy tree to lean against and wait. While you are waiting, mimic squirrel noises by either rubbing and clinking two quarters together or by rustling the fallen leaves next to you. Squirrels will hear these noises and think other squirrels are around signaling that it is safe to come out of hiding. When they scurry from their hiding place, be ready!
Another important factor in squirrel hunting with a pellet gun is in the type of pellet gun you use. For my money, an air rifle precisely sighted is the best bet. With a precisely sighted air rifle, that tiny target, the squirrel’s head, is easier to hit than with a pistol. I prefer Gamo air rifles, especially Gamo’s Game Swarm Maxxim Air Rifle, or the Crosman Optimus Breakbarrel Air Rifle (.177). The Crosman is inexpensive, ambidextrous, and has a lighter cocking action than most air rifles. And, it’s accurate at 25 yards! This is especially true is you master the “artillery hold.”
The basics of the artillery hold—the best way to kill a squirrel with a pellet gun
According to Tom Gaylord, artillery hold expert and inventor of the phrase, “Put simply, the artillery hold means holding your air rifle so lightly that it can recoil in any direction it wants to. Since the pellet remains in the barrel a long time after the shot, this means that the muzzle will always be in the same place, shot after shot, because there’s no outside influence forcing it to go elsewhere.” How many times have we seen novice hunters, or even experienced gunmen, lift the barrel of their rifle by accident when the recoil bounces their arm and shoulder around? Those bouncy shots will never hit their desired marks.
Tom Gaylord explains this further. “When you fire a spring-piston gun, the pellet doesn’t start to move until the piston comes to a stop. By that time, the gun is already moving in recoil. It’s also vibrating in all directions. If you were to try to restrain it by holding the stock firmly, you would establish a vibration node that would send the muzzle to a different place. Since you can never repeat a hold exactly, you’ll throw your shots all over the place if you hold the rifle tightly. If you just let it float on your hand, it will settle down and start grouping to the best of its capability.” Common sense, right? But, accuracy with a pellet gun is not always so common, so practicing the artillery hold will definitely improve your squirrel hunting gains.
Not all pellets are the same.
You should also experiment with which type of pellet works best with your air rifle of choice. Make sure the pellets fit the chamber tightly in order to minimize vibration and movement. A loose pellet will not fly as straight or as hard. Go here to choose your pellets.
Lastly, remember to be safe out there. Always check and comply with your local State Licensure Board to obtain all appropriate and required licenses and regulations such as bag limits and hunting seasons. Also, when shooting, keep the sun to your back so that the bright light in your eyes does not interfere with your shot. Lastly, aim for the squirrel AND the tree behind them, meaning make sure the squirrel’s head is in front of the tree before taking the shot. If you miss, you may hit another person or beloved pet.
Happy hunting! With a little practice, I hope you will soon agree with me. Only a total badass can bag a squirrel.