Squirrel hunters

By Tom Claycomb March 14, 2014 09:09 am

Tom Claycomb and his group of hunters traveled to Montgomery, Ala., for the Squirrel Master Classic. (TOM CLAYCOMB photo)
Tom Claycomb and his group of hunters traveled to Montgomery, Ala., for the Squirrel Master Classic. (TOM CLAYCOMB photo)
 

Outdoor media stars flocked to Montgomery for the Squirrel Master Classic

On Feb. 19 numerous members of the media and Outdoor TV stars flew into Montgomery, Alabama for the 1st Annual Squirrel Master Classic being put on by GAMO and covered in its entirety by Buckmasters TV Production. It was being held at the Southern Sportsman’s Lodge near Tyler, Alabama. 

For the hunt, GAMO supplied us with their Whisper Fusion Pro .177 air rifles. I’m not an airgun expert but the trigger is the best that I’ve tested so far on an airgun. They’ve also reduced the sound greatly with their new technology. 

The gun range was full so a few of us ended up back behind the cabins sighting in on a charcoal bag that we hung in a tree. Wow, I had to blink my eyes. I felt like I had gone back in time 50 years. Before too long we’d reverted and were shooting tin cans like kids. 

 Pretty soon we had them sighted in and then went to the lodge where dinner was being served. After dinner they had an opening ceremony and everyone was divided into six Teams. Each team had a Press member, 2 outdoor TV stars, a GAMO executive, a 4-H kid, guide and a dog handler. I was assigned to the “Afflicted to The Outdoors” team with Jon & Gina Brunson. There was expected to be stiff competition as the complete Gamo Prostaff members were going to be participating in this event. 

 The next morning we slammed down a breakfast and headed out before daylight. Our spot was a ranch about 30 minutes away. After we got there the guide and dog handler explained how the hunt would operate. They’d unleash the dog and we’d follow until he treed a squirrel.

 I thought it’d be a low key hunt but the squirrels would climb up in top of the tree and were hard to spot. I’m glad that at the last minute I had Bass Pro Shop send me a pair of their new 10x42 Oculus Binocs as I spent a good bit of time glassing.

 The hunt consisted of a 3-hour hunt in the morning and another 3-hour hunt in the afternoon. After the morning hunt had concluded we headed back to the lodge for lunch. Before lunch though we had a check in. We all gathered by the gun range and each team took their bag of squirrels and they were counted and posted on a scoreboard. If there was a tie the winner would be decided by who had the most weight so they were also weighed. 

 That evening after the afternoon hunt had concluded there was another weigh-in and the winning team was determined. Then we headed to the dining hall for dinner and afterwords the awards ceremony was held. The Buckmasters team won first place and members Jackie Bushman, Jacob Landry, Lou Riley, Adam Heggenstalker, Jim Shepard and Callie Littlefield were awarded their trophies-Wooden Squirrel. 

 It was a fun time. You forget how much fun it is to hunt and plink with an airgun. Of course these aren’t the airguns that we had when we were kids. These things will spit out a pellet at 12-1,400 fps. I’m going to test mine out at home hunting ground squirrels next week. I think that’d be a great way to start out kids hunting.

 Friday morning I had to head to Texas for a crow hunt. My next flt. was delayed in Atlanta and while walking around the airport I saw a cute little kid, probably 5-6 yrs. old and he had on a Hoyt cap. I asked him if he was a Hoyt man and he said yes sir! He was a funny little guy. After talking a minute he said can I ask you a question? I said sure. He looked down at my river sandals and said if you’re such a big hunter, why do you have those things on? I said well, we waded through a few creeks and my boots are soaking so that’s why. That seemed to somewhat satisfy him and elevate me back up slightly above the yuppie status.