I’ve taken the Barra Cowboy Series 1866 hunting a couple of times. The 1866 adds an incredible amount of challenge to hunting small game with air rifles. Being a multipump, you really have to make that one shot count. It also is limited to iron sights, so you’ve got to work your quarry in closer. While this kind of challenge isn’t for everyone, it is the challenge I grew up with and still love to do.
To prepare yourself for these kinds of hunts, be sure you practice extensively, shooting both offhand and supported positions. Know your limits – don’t take shots past where you can reliably hit an acorn. Wear neutral colors or camo up. I like to get close to den trees just before sunrise and wait. Another tactic is to stalk after a rain when the leaves are wet.
The first kill I got with the 1866 was a squirrel in my front yard (I live in a very rural setting). Sneaking out my back door, I came around the corner of the house and rested my gun against the roof of my SUV. The squirrel showed himself in a tree about 20 yards away. This is toward the limit that I’ll take a rested shot, but he was silhouetted nicely, so I confidently squeezed off the shot. The pellet found its mark and the squirrel fell:
I couldn’t ask for a better kill, and I’ve got another squirrel for the freezer. The 1866 is a handy gun to carry in the woods, so I decided to take it out today for a pest control hunt. Chipmunks get thick around here, and they are as destructive to property as they are cute. Shortly after entering the woods, I spotted a chipmunk near a rotted log. I slowly stalked to within 10 yards and was presented with an offhand shot opportunity. He was facing me chewing on an acorn. The pellet entered between the eyes and exited the neck.
After picking up my kill, I continued my walk. Unfortunately, there were no more squirrels or chipmunks, so I decided to head back. As I neared the rotted log where the first chipmunk was killed, another chipmunk appeared. I slowly worked my way in closer, but when I dropped my kill so I could steady my shot, he scooted into a crack in the log. We stared each other down for about ten minutes before he disappeared.
I then sat and waited. My patience paid off when he showed up again on top of the log presenting me with a side profile headshot. From my seated position, I took aim, fired, heard the smack of the pellet, and watched the brush behind it absorb the pass through. Here’s my two chipmunks along with the Barra 1866:
Hunting with the 1866 might be an exercise in patience and stealth, but it is also super rewarding. Unlike the squirrel, these chipmunks aren’t going in the freezer. Instead, they are in a salt water bath in the refrigerator, waiting for my lunch time. Not a lot of meat, but pan fried, they’ll go nicely with a bit of rice.