Varmint Vagabonds for a couple days

Me and my old buddy Tim got out for some wandering over the weekend. I hadn’t been out doing anything for two weeks, so I was itching to go. But Tim hadn’t been out for a lot longer than that. In fact, we installed a lift and new tires on his Tacoma a month ago, and he hadn’t had a chance to try it out offroad yet. So, Tim was really, really itching to go!

Nominally, we were out for ‘chucks. So we’d stop and glass likely looking ‘chuck spots and if there were enough of them out showing themselves to make it interesting, we’d unlimber a rifle and pop a few. We try to never kill more than half of what we see at any given spot. So if we glass for a few minutes and see a dozen, we’ll only shoot about six before moving on to the next likely looking spot.

Typical spot where we’d stop and pop a few.

Rock chuck hunting



.22-250AI on hood
Tim manning the .22-250AI on a ‘chuck setup

Ground squirrels were running around in a lot of places too. And so when we felt like it, we’d stop and lean across the hood to pop some of them just for grins. After about 50 rounds down the HMR off the hood and about 53 dead ground squirrels (not a typo, we got more doubles than we had misses…), we started trying them offhand. These are itty bitty little picket pins. One of them at 40 yards offhand is no gimme for either one of us. But, we got some of the rust shook. And when either one of us rattled off four or five hits in a row offhand, the grins were pretty big!

This was a good spot for a batch of ground squirrels.

Shooting ground squirrels


We saw a couple of badgers, but we gave them passes.

Badger May 2017

But really, we were just in relax and wander around and see what we can see mode, more than anything. We spent most of the weekend just trying to find dirt roads or Jeep trails to explore that we hadn’t been on before. Easier said than done. Partly because we’ve already been on just about every open, legal goat trail and two track for a days travel in any direction from where we were. But partly also because it was a heavy winter and has been a very wet spring.

We encountered new erosion and flood damaged roads and trails all weekend long. And were never actually able to get up to the real snow because of deep water and mud. For the most part, it was just a fun opportunity to test the new suspension on Tim’s truck. But, several times, we ran into deep enough water running across the road that we decided to just turn around. All in all, the conditions kept things interesting and entertaining. No complaints from us!

Tacoma crossing washout 1

Tacoma crossing washout 2


Tacoma crossing washout 3We pitched camp early the first night. After ribeye steaks and fried cabbage for dinner, we just sat around enjoying the views and doing some howling back and forth with the coyotes.

Tacoma with snowcapped peaks



Tim getting coyotes to howl
Tim getting coyotes to howl
View from camp at sunset


Might mention, we did call a coyote shortly before pitching camp, too. We’d got as far up a trail as we could get and were both out of the truck just looking around. I was smoking a cigar and getting a beer out of the fridge when I heard Tim start calling on his old LONEHOWL open reed. So I walked down the hill a few yards to stand above him, smoking a cigar and drinking a beer, while he played the rabbit blues. All just for grins, no expectations of anything, of course. So, I see one coming from quite a ways out and tell Tim we got a customer on the way. Then I walked a few more yards and sat down by him. Still puffing on my cigar… Anyhoo, coyote goes out of sight below us because the hillside is so steep. I tell Tim I reckon it’s going to pop up right in our faces here in a minute. And sure enough it did! Come up over the curve of the hill right in front of us 25 yards away. Great big OH-CHIT!!! Look on it’s face. Good humor! No gun, not even a camera on us, of course.

Next day, just more of the same. Loving the scenery. Loving the freedom. Loving everything about it. Nowhere we had to be. No time we had to be there. Just wandering around will o the wisp, no plan at all. End up wherever we end up. The weather was better than the first day, so there were more ‘chucks and squirrels available, but we did about the same amount of shooting as the day before – which is to say, all the shooting we felt like, but not anymore than that.

We lit up a good pocket of ‘chucks with the .17 HMR in this spot.



Tim getting ready to shoot a rock chuck
Tim getting ready to shoot a rock chuck

Getting on towards evening, sky got dark and it started to rain. So we just took the first kinda flat spot we came to and setup the tent while it was still raining. But, by the time camp was set, the rain was already getting weaker, so I went ahead and cooked dinner. Pork chops and asparagus for tonight.

Cooking pork chops for dinner
Cooking pork chops for dinner

After dinner had settled, we ate a watermelon ha-ha!

Tim cutting watermelon



Tim eating a watermelonGot up the next morning and started heading back for pavement, which was a couple hours drive away. Hit a pocket of jacks, same spot we usually hit them. Just had to take a walk with the .HMR.

DAA with a pair of jacks
DAA with a pair of jacks

Popped about a dozen jacks in about an hour.

But then, it really was time to go home and back to the grind of daily life. There for a couple days though, we almost forgot about the grind, out there just sniffing around looking for critters or interesting terrain, didn’t see another soul the whole time out there, just gulping in freedom with every breath. That’s living, I’m telling ya…






Varmint Vagabonds
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Varmint Vagabonds
Weekend varmint hunt trip report.
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