Scattergunning for Squirrels

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

how your shot patterns at different ranges. I missed two squirrels that day because I misjudged the size of my shot pattern while attempting to "edge" the squirrels.

Overall, my squirrel hunting experience was very satisfying and, as a bonus, it provided me with a great excuse to buy another shotgun. After some looking, I purchased a 28-gauge, Remington 870 Wingmaster from a local gun dealer. The pump shotgun weighed a mere 6 pounds and balanced well in my hands.

My first interest was to pattern the gun carefully at different distances to see how far in front of a squirrel I should hold to edge it with the shot pattern.

At the range, I stapled butcher paper to the patterning boards. With full choke and shotshells holding an ounce of either 4, 5 or 6 shot, I shot at ranges of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 yards. The shooting session revealed that in my shotgun, number 4 shot produced the most consistent patterns. I was ready to take my new gun squirrel hunting.

Waiting for the right shot takes patience. Often squirrels are in range but not in a position for a clear shot. A squirrel sitting on its haunches, directly facing you, does not offer a good shotgun target. When a squirrel sits sideways to you on its haunches, you have a shot, but you have to hold high and a little to the left or right to properly edge the squirrel with the pattern. When a squirrel is stretched out full length, you should aim directly in front of the squirrel.

My muzzleloader still sees plenty of time afield, but I now do a fair bit of my squirrel hunting with the 28-gauge. Shotgunning has its advantages. Frequently, squirrels pause only for a moment, with head exposed, before scurrying to the backside of the tree or into a den hole. There isn't enough time for a hunter to take careful aim with a rifle.

With a shotgun, you can shoot just as you would at flying game, quickly, by raising your shotgun, pointing and squeezing the trigger. It's almost like wingshooting.

With skill and proper lead, you can also shoot squirrels on the move. You are more likely to connect shooting freehanded, without a rest. Also, a shotgun allows you to hunt in more places, which increases your hunting opportunities. Some landowners only allow hunting with shotguns, particularly if livestock or homes are close by. On some public areas, rifles are not allowed for any type of hunting.

Shotgunning can provide many challenging and satisfying outings for squirrel hunters. The ultimate reward comes when you sit down to a meal of fried squirrels (without pellets), biscuits and gravy.

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