First Squirrel of the Season!

I’m taking it easy on the squirrels on my property this year, which is why it has taken me until today to shoot one. I was on my back deck doing some long range shooting when I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. There was a squirrel 45 yards away resting on a limb in the shade. His tail was dangling down, which is what attracted my attention.

The scope I recently reviewed is still performing well and my calculated holdover, combined with steadying my shot on the deck rail, sent my Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum .22 pellet right through the squirrel’s fuse box. It took awhile for me to find him among all the weeds and leaves:

First Squirrel of 2018 Season
First Squirrel of 2018 Season

This is the first squirrel I’ve taken with my B3-3 after extensive modifications. These pellets average 565 fps at the muzzle. You might notice the white plastic part on the end of the underlever. It is a new magnetic catch that I’ve been developing with my 3d printer.

I turned the squirrel over to see if there was an exit wound. No, but the pellet smashed through the other side of the skull and came to rest right under the skin just behind the nose:

The pellet is in that bulge between the eye and nose
The pellet is in that bulge between the eye and nose

With the temperatures being just under 90*F, I quickly skinned and cleaned the squirrel so I could get the meat cooling in the refrigerator. Once that chore was done, I came back to see what 5.82 FPE of impact energy would do to a squirrel. Part of the damage was seen when I was rinsing the carcass. I noticed that part of the backbone appeared to be broken. This is probably due to the angle of the shot pushing the head forward. Here’s the entry wound:

The entry is just below and forward in relation to the ear hole
The entry is just below and forward in relation to the ear hole

The lower jaw was broken and the eye on this side was slightly bulged out. I continued to skin the skull to reveal where the pellet exited the skull and came to rest just under the skin:

The pellet and exit hole
The pellet and exit hole

The pellet had taken at least a partial turn and exited the skull sideways before running out of steam. To give you an idea of the path the pellet took, I’ve inserted a wire into the skull:

The pellet and the path it took
The pellet and the path it took

This is all the result of careful modification, tuning, and many thousands of hours of shooting. I have learned to prize accuracy over power, and my heavily reworked B3-3 is among the most accurate rifles I’ve had the privilege to own. It only produces a hair over 10 FPE at the muzzle, but the fast shot cycle, shot to shot consistency, and good barrel makes up for the lack of power.

Slow Cooked Raccoon and Gravy

My Vortek tuned Gamo Shadow 1000 puts out 16 fpe at the muzzle and is quite a tack driver. I took a nice raccoon at 43 yards and like nearly everything I kill, had to try eating it. Slow cooking in a crock pot is a sure fire way to cook almost any kind of meat, and coon was no exception.

I cooked up the front legs and shoulders as well as the back legs. I was careful to remove the scent glands in the armpits as well as in the back legs. The meat was soaked in salt water overnight to draw out excess blood. Now that the meat was chilled, it was easy to remove the excess fat. A couple inches of beef stock was added to the crock pot, then the coon meat followed. A few good shakes of cajun seasoning was added for extra kick. After several hours at a low temperature it looked really good:

Slow cooked raccoon
Slow cooked raccoon

When the meat begins to draw away from the end of the bones, you know the meat is going to be melt in your mouth tender. I then removed much of the broth in preparation for gravy making:

This is going to turn into an amazing gravy
This is going to turn into an amazing gravy

The cooking juices go into a pan where they are brought to a boil. As they are heating up, I prepared a corn starch slurry by mixing corn starch to cold water. This is what makes the gravy thick. Stir it into the boiling broth, then reduce the temperature. It’ll thicken and look like this:

Homemade gravy
Homemade gravy

So how does slow cooked raccoon taste? A lot like the best beef roast you ever tried. The texture of the meat is better than beef or venison. I’d say raccoon is my favorite wild meat that I’ve tried so far.

Vortek Spring Hunting

My Vortek spring showed up quickly, so I swapped out the Chinese spring in favor of the more powerful aftermarket spring. Vortek was quick to ship out my spring and even included a small container of spring tar. The spring is very nice, beefier than the original Gamo spring. The spring is a loose fit on the tophat and guide, so I still have some work to do to make it a perfectly smooth shooter. It did, however, boost my average power to 16 fpe and isn’t very hold sensitive to boot.

With this added power, I should be able to take out some bigger game. I’ve taken a couple of nice fox squirrels, one shot kills to the brain:

Power sprung Gamo is a hunting machine
Power sprung Gamo is a hunting machine

The Shadow is a surprisingly quiet air rifle, and the smack of the pellet hitting the squirrel’s head is amazing. By the way, two fox squirrels was enough to feed my family including the cat when combined with some rice and homemade gravy.

I’ve seen a raccoon over the last week out in the woods and decided to try a shot on it. It is a long 43 yard shot from my back door to where I’ve been seeing him, but the pellet should have over 10 fpe on impact, plenty to penetrate the skull and deliver a kill. I slowly opened the back door, steadied my arm on the door jamb, settled into a artillery hold, aimed, and squeezed off the shot.

I watched the pellet skirt illuminated by my back porch light as it made its way to its mark. The pellet landed right between the eye and ear and the coon began its death dance. I couldn’t have asked for a better kill shot. While cleaning the coon, I found the pellet had deflected off the inside of the skull and came to rest in the neck.

A perfect kill shot
A perfect kill shot

It isn’t the biggest coon I’ve killed, but it my largest air rifle kill to date. It also didn’t smell like garbage, so I’ve decided to cook him up. He’s in the crock pot as I type this and the house smells amazing. I’ll be sure to share my experience in cooking and eating raccoon in the future.

My largest airgun kill so far
My largest airgun kill so far

To summarize, I highly recommend Vortek springs as an upgrade to your spring piston rifle. The quality of the product and speed in shipping are top notch. 16 fpe in a .177 air rifle produces a very flat shooting, deep penetrating setup that is absolutely lethal for small game hunting. There’s still a few more experiments I plan to try with this spring and a new aftermarket seal. I hope to squeeze out a bit more power and smooth things out a bit. We’ll see what happens…