Mat Manning shares 10 top tips to help airgun hunters bag more bushy-tails.
1. Set up a feed station
Grey squirrels quickly home in on an easy meal, and you can create a hotspot by making your own feeding station. Fasten a hopper to a tree in an area you know to hold squirrels, load it with peanuts and the bushy-tails will soon be queuing up.
2. Keep concealed
Grey squirrels are clever animals and won’t hang around if they think danger is lurking – even if you’re offering them a free meal. Set up a hide and leave it in situ so you have readymade cover that squirrels take for granted.
3. Exploit the autumn banquet
Find the things that squirrels like to eat and your quarry will never be far away. Autumn is the prime time to catch greedy bushy-tails filling their bellies, and you can expect to encounter them wherever there is a good supply of acorns, beech mast or sweet chestnuts.
4. Stake out pheasant feeders
If you share your permission with game shooters you can expect to find lots of squirrels raiding the pheasant feeders. These readymade feeding stations quickly become squirrel hotspots and can be a great place to set up a hide.
5. Hone your marksmanship
Grey squirrels are tough little critters, and it usually takes a strike to the head to ensure a clean kill when using a sub-12 ft-lb airgun such as Mat’s Walther Rotex RM8 UC. Practising on paper targets is a great way to ensure that you and your combo are on the mark when chances arise.
6. Use the right pellet
Matching your airgun with the right pellet is an important factor in achieving precise kills. Quality domed ammo, such as Bisley Magnums which have a reputation for good performance with a wide variety of air rifles, are a good place to start.
7. Try a roving approach
Although ambush tactics can produce good bags of grey squirrels, keeping on the move enables you to cover more ground. Remember to stop every few paces and scour the trees all around you, and don’t forget to keep an eye on the ground as grey squirrels spend a lot of time rummaging for tasty morsels in the leaf litter.
8. Give them a squeak
Trying to get a clear shot at grey squirrels as they clamber around in the treetops can be very frustrating. Make a squeaking sound or click your tongue when a squirrel is out in the open and it will often freeze as it tries to locate the source of the sound.
9. Get your timing right
Squirrels tend to be very active just after daybreak and then again as dusk approaches at the end of the day. Timing your outings to coincide with these prime periods can save you from wasting a lot of time when squirrels aren’t on the move.
10. Wind down at dusk and dawn
It can be tricky to spot squirrels through your telescopic sight when hunting in low-light conditions. If you use a zoom scope, turning down the magnification will improve light transmission and brighten up the sight picture.