AirgunWeb Attends the 2015 Gamo Squirrel Master Classic
It was my privilege to attend the 2015 Gamo Squirrel Master Classic held at the Southern Sportsman Hunting Lodge and attended by folks like Jackie Bushman, Shawn Michaels, the whole Bone Collector crew, Hardcore Hunting TV, Doug Koenig’s Championship Season, and even a special appearance from Chase Landry (swamp people).
I realized early on that I was going to have to make a choice to either shoot squirrels, my Gamo G2 Whisper, or video camera. Since I’m an airgunner first, you can guess what I chose. That’s right, it was my G2 Whisper. So please forgive the lack of video footage, I was too busy running down squirrels! There’s a lot to talk about so let’s get started.
I was not sure what to expect as this was my first time attending Gamo’s Squirrel Master Classic. When I pulled up to the Southern Sportsman Hunting Lodge just off highway 80 I was welcomed by a very rustic and hospitable establishment run by wonderful people. I signed in and received my assigned sleeping quarters which simply read “bunk house.”
The bunk house what just that. A house full of bunk beds. In the bunk house were other media personalities and the real stars of the show, the dog handlers. I’ll talk more about them a little later.
After dinner we had the opening ceremonies, and then it was time to meet our teams and get together with the folks we’d be hunting with the next day. I was partnered with Hardcore Hunting TV who were also new to the event. These four guys, Kevin Meacham, Keith Burgess, Chris Ashley, and Cody Kelley were serious about placing well in the competition and they quickly set the performance bar very high. Also paired with Hardcore Hunting TV was Editor Hillary Dyer, 4H participant Phillip Saylor, and dog handler Butch Morton.
Getting in the woods
The next morning was cold. When say cold, it was 21 degrees which is very cold as compared to the 79 degree weather I left back in Arizona. I layered up, grabbed my Gamo G2 Whisper with BSA 2-7×32 scope, my Gamo Rocket and Gamo Luxor pellets and headed for the trucks.
After a short ride to our first hunting grounds we hopped out of the trucks and headed into the woods. It wasn’t 5 minutes and Moe, our first squirrel dog and my favorite, started barking. Sure enough, within the next couple of minutes we had our first squirrel in the bag.
As the morning went on we took a fox squirrel and then we ran into a pair of squirrels and I got my first chance to take a halfway clean shot. We were shooting at about a 70 to 80 degree incline, essentially straight up in the air up to about 90 feet or more. This shot was about 25 yards and even though I hit him clean he just would not let go of the branch. In the meantime Kevin Meacham readied his .22 caliber PCP Gamo Coyote and finished the job.
By the time we got back for the morning weigh in, we had a total of 4 gray squirrels and 1 fox squirrel which counted as 2 (each team was only allowed one fox squirrel per team) bringing our total to 6 squirrels for the morning. This put us in 2nd place behind the Bone Collector 1 team which managed to get 10. I’m pretty sure they flew some in and had them on ice. I mean, who would know? Everything was frozen anyway!
Time to make up some ground
As we started the afternoon hunt, we all hoped things were going to get a bit easier. Unfortunately, they didn’t. The wind kicked up and the squirrels just drove deeper into their dens to stay out of the cold. We starting shaking every nest and tugging on every vine to try and drum up a few more kills. At one point, I began to lose a bit of hope and then old Moe started barking. We all converged on a tree only to find more nests, but no squirrels. As we walked away from the tree, a squirrel that had been hiding in some leaves almost at eye level, timbered out, went up the adjacent tree and into a nest. I was set about 25 yards to the south and had a perfect view of the back side of the nest. I set up my Gamo G2 Whisper loaded with Gamo Rocket pellets across my arm that was braced on a tree and I waited for Mr. Squirrel to come out the back side of the nest. Just as he came out and was going to timber out to the next tree, I took my shot and took him with a clean one shot kill. I know that it’s only a squirrel, but my blood was pumping and the adrenalin was flowing for sure. This was a lot of fun!
Wrapping up the day
By the end of the afternoon we were still one squirrel behind matching Bone Collector 1’s midday total. We hunted even harder and managed to get one more before 5:30, giving us a final total of 10. In my opinion the MVP of the day was our 4H participant Philip. Not only was he able to keep up with the dog and get to the tree before any of us, he was a great shot. Over the course of the day he hit 2 squirrels while they were on a dead run and either single handedly took out or contributed to at least another 3 or 4 squirrels.
At the final weigh in Bone Collector 1 ruled the day with a total of 15 squirrels, Jackie Bushman’s team came in second with 13 and our team, the Hardcore Hunting TV team, came in third with 10. The other teams posted totals of 9, 7 and 5, give or take a few.
The big “take away” from the day
I was not sure what to expect when I agreed to come participate in this great event. Now that I know what to expect, I can’t wait to do it again. Meeting all the folks from Gamo and these prominent hunting shows was a treat. Getting to experience for the first time some real action-filled hunting has inspired me to come home and get my own family involved in the activity. Most importantly for me was to see the young men and women from 4H conduct themselves like responsible young adults. They were respectful, courteous, and responsible.
Gamo’s point in this event is to encourage folks to get back to the basics of family, the outdoors, and yes, shooting sports. I saw the very best of all of these and I can’t wait to be part of it again next year if they’ll have me.