Anyone who calls themselves a hunter knows the drill…go to bed late, get up early, drive, drink coffee, and arrive at your spot well before daybreak.  Anything can happen after that.  Sometimes the hunts are action packed and sometimes they are really slow.  Most times when it’s slow I’m fighting the urge to sleep or go home, but today was different.

I was deer hunting a long narrow field planted half in wheat, and half in corn. It’s a pretty sight and it’s a dynamite setup as its surrounded by bedding and travel corridors.  As you might imagine, I was excited.

But after the first hour or so passed with no deer I began to get tired.  I’m talking “head bobbing, drooling on your jacket” tired.

I’d occasionally see a crow or squirrel and they kept my interest a little. The reason they were of interest had nothing to do with my .30-06.  While highly effective on deer,  the mighty .30-06 is  something I think we would all agree falls in the category of “too much gun” for squirrels.

What made them interesting was this year’s new tactic.  This year I began bringing two guns on every hunt.  My primary deer rifle, and my Benjamin Marauder pistol/carbine.

“Why?”  I thought you’d never ask.  Too many times in my life I’ve sat in a deer stand covered up with squirrels while waiting for the deer to move.  Many times I never saw a deer on those hunts…and if I’d been properly armed I could’ve gone home with a limit of squirrels as a consolation prize.

For years I joked about bringing a pellet gun with me to the stand but it was never really a serious option.  Toting two rifles to the woods (one of which you had to pump to shoot) was not realistic.

Key the dramatic music…I have found a gun that fits the bill.  The Benjamin Marauder Rifle has a little brother.  They’ve named it the Benjamin Marauder Pistol.  Now, I know you’re probably stunned by the lack of originality of that name…but give these guys a break…they are engineers…not marketers.

What they’ve done is built a sub 3-lb version of the legendary Marauder rifle that is super short and super accurate.  It is the handiest little carbine I’ve ever held.  It actually feels better than the legendary H&K MP5 in my hands…not kidding you…it feels that good.

So…the point is that this year I am finally fulfilling my long simmering threat to bring a squirrel gun with me on my deer hunts.  No longer will I be barked at by a pesky squirrel trying to betray my location to everything in the woods.  The plan is that with one well placed .22 caliber shot I’ll shut his acorn-hole forpackingheat good.

As  you’ll notice in the picture on the right, the gun is so compact I can strap it to my daypack and it’s totally out of the way.  I have my jacket strapped to the pack as well.  Just for reference, that pack doesn’t quite come up to my knee…it’s pretty short.

 

Say hello to my little friend

I’d seen the same squirrel darting out of the woods and into the corn all morning.  Rather than wait for him to accidentally get close enough for me to shoot (if i was even awake by then) I thought I’d see if I could stalk him.  It seemed like a reasonable alternative to sleeping in the field.

With the decision made, I switched guns and stalked into the woods with the little Marauder.  This gun is so light and handy that I could carry it from sunup to sundown and be fine.  If you want an idea of how easy it is to shoulder this thing, go into your kitchen and grab a banana…now shoulder it.  It’s that light and that easy.

When I eased off the field and dropped into the woods I noticed that there were several squirrels in this joint.  Apparently none had seen me either.  I took my time stalking into the center of this little patch of woods and posted near a downed tree.  A few squirrels were to my front but behind way too much cover for me to do anything with.

Then to my right, a squirrel came off the cornfield and I heard him clawing his way up a tree.  I looked right and found him about 20 yards away on the side of the tree.  The little Marauder came up to my shoulder quickly, I found him in the scope and I touched off the shot.  “WHACK!” was the sound the pellet made after it passed through the squirrel and pounded into the tree behind him.  He flopped off the tree immediately.

My initial reaction was kind of “Wow…I hammered him.”  It’s not that I expected to miss him…I was just surprised to see my plan succeed so early in it’s implementation.  First squirrel, first shot, bang…flop.

When I approached the base of the tree I felt as if I had found the thieves den.  The base of the oak tree was littered with empty corn cobs.  This squirrel had been raiding the cornfield on a regular basis.  He’d run back to his tree, eat all the corn off the cob, then drop his trash to the ground.  I guess this is what he gets for littering.

The picture below gives you an idea of how small the gun is.  It’s about 1.5 squirrels long!

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With that success under my belt I hatched another plan.  There is an old gravel road near the barn that runs right behind a big corn field.  I decided to go walk that road and see if I could find some more squirrels and introduce them to the little Marauder.

Picture a small country lane lined with a thin screen of trees that go up 40 or 50 feet and form a natural roof over the road.  That’s what this road looks like.  To my left is a very thin line of trees that separates me from the cornfield.  There is some undergrowth  as well so it’s tough to see the ground in there but it’s only a distance of 10 to 15 yards that separates me from the cornfield.

My plan was to ease down this road and see if I could sneak up on a squirrel that was raiding the corn field.  The field to the left of the trees is about 150 yards long.

I began my stalk with 7 rounds in the magazine (I had used one on my previous victim, otherwise I’d have had a full compliment of 8 pellets).  It didn’t take long to get my first customer.  As I softly crunched over the dried leaves that littered the road, a squirrel in the field heard me and made a mad dash for the safety of the trees that sat between us.

Oh what a mistake that was.  I’ll give him credit though, he had a tough call to make.  Running for the trees is his instinct, and 9.5 times out of 10 it works.  If he ran deeper into the field, any number of bad things could happen to him…he could meet a coyote, a hawk, a fox, a redneck…just about anything could happen out there…and little of it good.  But the trees…the trees are his castle.  If he can just make it to the trees he can be safe.

Ordinarily that might be true, but I have to tell you that a squirrel trying to run with a corn cob in his mouth is not as fast or as nimble as he thinks he is.

I heard him before I saw him.  He ran off the field with a stolen corn cob, bolted through the briars, and bounded up onto a limb three feet off the ground.  I had my scope on him before he was halfway across that limb.  I made a noise and he stopped.  “WHACK!”  and down he went…still greedily trying to hold onto his stolen meal.  When that pellet passed through the squirrel it really whacked the limb and then spun off into a ricochet leaving the familiar ‘puhCHEEOOWWW” sound in it’s wake.

I really got a laugh out of that one.  That was just like scene from a cartoon.  The squirrel running with the corn, then falling off the log full-tilt as the sound of the ricochet still hung in the air was a scene I won’t soon forget.

My second victim was now in the bag.  I took a good long look at the little Marauder at this point.  This is an 8 shot, magazine fed, silent carbine that is just knocking the squirrels dead.  The trigger on the gun is flawless.  The first stage is a quick uptake of predictable slack, and the second stage is just a crisp break…it’s the same every single time you press it.  It has no grit, or creep, or lag…no variation at all…it’s totally predictable every time.  It is the type of trigger that creates accuracy.

I marked the location of that squirrel and with the grin still on my face I started creeping down the road again.  At this point I’m only 20 yards from where I parked and I already killed a squirrel.  About 15 yards later I hear another squirrel.  This one  is inbound from the right side of the road.

He runs to a sapling 20 yards ahead and as he is jumping I’m taking a knee.  I get the scope up and there’s just too much stuff to see through.  I think I see him hanging off the right side of the tree but by the time I convince myself it’s not him…he moves and I realize it was him and I missed a shot opportunity.

He bounces twice on the forest floor, heading toward a BIG oak tree near the cornfield.  This tree could house a hundred squirrels if it wanted to.  I see him run up to a crook and stop 30 feet up.  “pap” whispers the Marauder.  Clean miss.  I’ve not yet fully learned the trajectory of the heavy .22 caliber pellets that I’m shooting.

I start to pull the gun down and lo-and-behold there is another squirrel in that tree.  He is lower and running down a branch on my left to the center of the tree.  I cycle the bolt, then make a noise and he stops.  “WHACK! puhCHEEOWWWW”  Another miss but a cool ricochet and another grin.

16013563902_204a95fd90_oEvery few yards I’m getting shots, I’m dropping squirrels, and there’s ricochets buzzing off into thedistance, and more squirrels pop up.  The little Marauder has turned this placid country road into a veritable shooting gallery.  It’s like the best version of an action shooting gallery any kid could ever dream up.

All told I saw and shot at six squirrels in the 100 yard walk that I took.  If I’d had more practice with this gun it would’ve been easy to take six squirrels in under 5 minutes from that one short walk.

I didn’t even think about it until I was in the truck on the way home.  The reason I got so much action in that short little stretch was that none of those squirrels heard me shoot.  I shot 7 times and nothing heard my gun.  They might have heard the “whack” of the pellet hitting the tree trunk, or the sound of the ricochet, but those clearly didn’t alarm them.  They had no idea that all the other squirrels around them…just a few yards away…were being hunted and killed.  It was like being the invisible man.

This squirrel hunting thing was purely a “Plan B” to my deer hunting, but now that I’ve actually done it I can promise you that the little Marauder pistol is coming with me every time.  This was so much fun that it should in no way take a back seat to my deer hunting.  I’ll take the kids next week…it was non-stop, shoot-em-up, arcade type action and it was an absolute ball.

Another thing happened on my way home…and the timing is unbelievable.  A few weeks ago I let my brother in law borrow my Marauder rifle.  He has a squirrel problem and after seeing how the Marauder rifle solved my squirrel problem with ruthless efficiency he was curious to try it.

When I answered my phone (hands free operation…so chill out) he said “DUDE!  I just got a chance today to sit down and really get to shoot this gun.”  He then went on to explain that he killed 4 earlier that morning, and killed the 5th right before he called me, at a distance of 60 yards.  He raved about the gun to the point of saying “This is the gun that takes it to the next level.  Like if you want to really go squirrel hunting to take limits…they’d never hear you coming…and it’s killing them from way out there.”

We laughed and carried on about these guns for the next five minutes.  I’m pretty sure he’s going to buy one as soon as I take mine back.  He won’t be able to live without one in the arsenal…they are simply too useful, too accurate, too quiet, too cool…and just too fun.