I was never able to come up with much in the way of concrete information about these guys, until one day when I was at the big Pomona Gun Show at the LA County Fair Grounds.
I was wandering through building 4, when some pictures of ground squirrels hanging from the back of a booth caught my attention. I was a couple of aisles away, so I worked my way across the room, and over to the booth.
The fellow manning the booth had a bunch of Sierra varmint caliber bullets for sale at pretty good prices, so I bought a few boxes. It was then that I noticed that he had some literature out for an organization known as the, "Amalgamated, Squirrel, Shooters, Western, Intermountain, Pest, Extermination, Society". Lovingly known as, the A.S.S.W.I.P.E.S.. Headquartered at the time, out of Gardinerville Nevada. Thus explaining the squirrel pictures.
With my irreverent, tongue in cheek, and somewhat warped sense of humor, I knew that I had to become a member. I seem to be drawn to things politically incorrect. A.S.S.W.I.P.E.S., the perfect thing to rub some anti-hunting liberal noses in.
I don't remember the exact amount, but I think a one year membership was about twenty bucks. Sign me up. I found out that one of the benefits of being a card carrying A.S.S.W.I.P.E., was that you got an invitation to participate in the annual, "Northern Nevada Squirrel Whack". For my twenty bucks, I would've been happy just being able to call myself a card carrying A.S.S.W.I.P.E., but to get to shoot squirrels too... what a bargain.
I received a memo in April, explaining that, this years shoot was scheduled for the third week in May. It laid out some ground rules, and made several recommendations for first timers. One was to be sure that you had a CB radio in your vehicle so that you could stay in communication with everyone else. The other was to bring lots of ammo. Three to four thousand rounds was recommended, depending on the length of your stay. SAY WHAT?
I thought they were pulling my leg. I'd been shooting ground squirrels in So. Cal. for twenty five years, and a two hundred round weekend was a seriously good shoot. I decided that they weren't going to get to snooker ME. I knew that if I showed up with that kind of ammo, they would point and laugh at the new guy and make fun. "What'd you think you were going to do, fight world war III?" Nope not me. I ain't falling for it.
The memo also stated that shots could range from ten feet, to as far away as 250 yards and everything in-between. Also, to plan for Jack Rabbits in the late afternoon. Hmm, what to take?
I have a matched set of Sako heavy barreled single shot varminters. One in 22 PPC, and the other in 6MM PPC. I decided to take them both. I also decided to take my .22-250 40XB, as well as a .220 Swift built on a Wichita single shot action.
I took two hundred rounds for each of the PPC's, and one hundred rounds each for the Swift, and .22-250. For the really short range stuff I took my .22 Ruger MK1 , heavy barrel pistol, equipped with a Leupold 2X handgun scope. I figured 500 rounds should be plenty for that. All told 1100 rounds. I'm thinking that should be more than enough.
It's about a ten hour drive from my place to Winnemucca Nevada, but it went by really fast. I got me a room, some dinner, and crashed. I was up bright and early the next morning to make the hour drive to the designated point of departure. The sun was out, and it was going to be a warm day. When I get there, about twenty five other A.S.S.W.I.P.E.S. had already arrived. One couple is towing a big red wagon behind their Chevy Suburban. On the side of it, painted in large letters, are the words A.S.S.W.I.P.E.S. WAR WAGON. They would climb up in it, and shoot down on the squirrels. These folks were real serious about this squirrel blasting thing. I'm really liking these guys already. I go through the meet and greet, everybody is really great, and very excited to get started.
There is another first timer there as well. Her name is Sheila, and she's a free lance Outdoor Writer. We decided to hunt together. We pile all of her stuff into my truck, and we all convoy out to the killing fields. The area we're going to hunt, is made up of several very large, and interlocking alfalfa farms. We meet the farm owners, get some do's and don'ts, do a radio check, get our directions, and away we go.
Everybody scatters to the wind. Sheila and I head down the road to the area that we were told to start with. As we're driving along the dirt service road, we see an occasional squirrel run across the road and go into the alfalfa and others that were coming out of the alfalfa and going into the sage that bordered all of the fields. This looks like it has all of the markings of a good time, but I ain't seein any reason for four thousand rounds of ammo.
One problem though, was that you couldn't see the squirrels once they were into the alfalfa. They were only about 5/8ths as big as the California Digger Squirrels that I was use to hunting. We come to the end of the fence line, and the road makes a 90 degree turn to the right. I make the turn and it's, HOLY CRAP!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!
THERE ARE SQUIRRELS EVERYWHERE. There are hundreds of squirrels in view, and hundreds more where they came from. I had never seen anything like this before, and I have never seen anything like it since. These were more like lemmings, than ground squirrels. The ground was literally crawling with them.
We decided to stop right there, turn the truck sideways in the road and have at them over the hood. Sheila is shooting a couple of .223s, and Federal Factory ammo. The plan is for one of us to spot while the other shoots, and we'll trade off every ten shots. I have a moving pad that I throw over the hood so that we don't burn our arms.
We get the sandbags set up, and away we go. She kills 10 just as fast as she can chamber a round, line up the shot, and squeeze the trigger. In about two minutes it's my turn. I do the same thing, and it's her turn again. This goes on for about twenty minutes, and we decide that we need to get out a second rifle each, so the first ones can cool down a bit. I'm thinking to myself, "I'm hammering the crap out of the barrels on these rifles with this fast rate of fire". My brain responds with, "TO HELL WITH THE BARRELS, PASS THE AMMUNITION". Dead squirrels are laying everywhere.
The squirrels have laid waste to the alfalfa from the edge of the field on in about thirty yards, so we have a pretty good field of fire. There are hundreds of them going back and forth from the sage to the alfalfa and back. There are obviously thousands of squirrels in the area. It was a real frenzy. A feeding frenzy in front of the guns, and a shooting frenzy in back of the guns. For just a brief moment, my mind flashed on the "Memo" about bring lots of ammo. In no time, I had gone through a hundred rounds each of 6MM, and 22 PPC ammo.
At first we killed the first squirrel we got the crosshairs on, swinging to the next one just as fast as we could chamber another round. Then we started to get a bit more selective. We only shot the squirrels coming out of the field, because they had a gut full of sloppy wet alfalfa, and blew up way better than the ones going in.
Then we started going for doubles and triples. These guys gave a new meaning to the word cannibalistic. We noticed that they would bunch up around the dead ones, and start gorging themselves on fresh meat. Doubles and triples became common place. Given a choice they would rather eat red meat, than veggies. Then the game became one of only killing them in the road. The carcasses really started to pile up, and of course the squirrels that stopped to nibble got added to the pile. We've not even broken for lunch, and I've put a serious dent in my PPC ammo. Sheila is in great shape though, because she has cases of ammo that Federal had sent her. She's an excellent shot, and is racking up an impressive pile of squirrels. I flash again on the "Memo".
There are squirrels squeaking at us from holes ten, fifteen, twenty feet away from my truck. I make an executive decision to switch to my .22 handgun. I'm shooting CCI Mini Mag hollow points. I have five of the hundred round packs with me. I stick all of them into my back pockets, leave Sheila to her own devices, and head out into the field. I'm going to work on a part that's out of her line of fire. I've only brought two mags for the pistol. Big mistake, I should've brought all eight. The shooting is fast and furious. I'm burning through my rim fire ammo like crazy. I'm only gone about an hour and have gone through two hundred rounds. It was taking me more time to load the mags than it was to empty them. Nothing else existed in the world but me and the squirrels. Shoot one, and three more would pop up. Shoot them, and there's six more. Missed one? So what! Swing on the next one and kill it. They were everywhere. It just didn't stop. It was insane. Kinda like a video game.
I looked back at the truck, and Sheila is waving to me to come back. When I get there she say's the folks have announced over the CB that we're all going to meet at one of the ranch houses for lunch. I didn't really want to stop shooting.
Lunch was fun. Everyone was having the same kind of shoot that we were. It was crazy. Back to the killing fields. I decided to continue to hunt with my .22 handgun. In no time at all I'm down to my last hundred rounds of rim fire ammo, and it's only the first day. I go back to the truck, and fire up the CB. Breaker, Breaker, hey guys, I'm getting kinda low on .22lr ammo, anybody got some they might want to sell? No response. I fiddle with the squelch, and try again. Breaker, Breaker, anybody got some 22lr ammo they would like to sell. Nothing. Hmm, I'm thinking maybe I'm out of range or something when somebody keys their mic. and says. "Hey dingleberry, did you read the memo"? Yeah I read the memo. "Nuff said", click.
Ok, now I'm like a heroin junkie, I'm panicked. I need an ammo fix real bad, and real soon. I told Sheila that I needed to go into town, and that I'd drop her back at her truck. We get her stuff back into her rig, and I'm on my way. It's about an hours drive into Winnemucca from where I am. That is, if you do the speed limit. I made it in forty minutes. I had noticed a small Gun Shop in a strip mall when I first got into town. I headed directly for it. I bought all of the .22lr ammo he had on the shelf, and that amounted to just about thirty five hundred rounds. He said that a bunch of guys, a couple days earlier, had just about cleaned him out. It was a hodgepodge of brands and bullet styles but I didn't care. It would all shoot quarter minute of squirrel at twenty five yards, and that's all that mattered to me. Don't ask me what I paid for it. I don't want to talk about it.
"ON THE ROAD AGAIN", I made it back in time for a couple more hours of shooting. I was exhausted, and exhilarated all at the same time. Over the next few days, I only shot the rim fire. My thumb was killing me from holding down the little button on the Ruger magazines hundreds of times, as I loaded them. The the tip of my left thumb was getting shreaded by the sharp magazine lips, but nothing could get me to stop shooting squirrels. About then, I would have paid a hundred bucks for a thumb saver.
About half way through the third day, somebody jumps on the CB, and wants to know if anybody has any .22lr ammo they want to sell? I immediately jumped on and said, "Hey dingleberry, did you read the memo"? There are a few minutes of silence, and he comes back up and says, "Hey guys I'm going to make an ammo run into Winnemucca, anybody want me to pick some up for you? I jumped back on and said, "Don't bother, he's all out". He comes back with, "How do you know"? I said, Because some "dingleberry" from LA bought it all, " BWAAA, HAAA, HAAA, HAAAAA!!!
Late in the afternoon of the fourth day, I fired my last shot. I was out of rim fire ammo and didn't really care. As the results of our efforts started to show, the pace of the shooting had started to slow. Four days in the heat, sun, and wind had taken it's toll, and I was pooped. A good kind of pooped though. The kind of pooped that only other A.S.S.W.I.P.E.S. would understand.
I said goodbye to Sheila, she had decided to stay one more day. I got on the CB and thanked everyone still there for a great time. I pointed my 4Runner south, and hit the dusty trail back to LA.
It was the most intense shooting experience that I have ever had. It was four days of pure mayhem. Thousands upon thousands, of squirrels were exterminated. I was both exhausted, and exhilarated all at the same time. I was in sensory overload. I left there thinking that if I NEVER, EVER, see or shoot another ground squirrel in my life, it will be FINE BY ME!!
My Ruger pistol weighs 3.5 pounds with scope. I figure that by bringing that thing up to eye level for every shot, I had lifted the equivalent of five tons over a four day period, 3.5 pounds at a time. My arms felt like they were going to fall off, but it was a good kind of pain. I never fired another center fire round after the first morning.
About four hours into the drive home my mind started to re-think this whole thing about never, ever, seeing and/or shooting another ground squirrel in my life. But, like any junkie, I knew that I could quit anytime I wanted. By the time I got home, I had made plans to grab a bunch of .22lr ammo, a few more guns, and go back up with my son. Two days later we were back on the road to the killing fields of Nevada. I won't get into that story, because it's pretty much a repeat of this one. But, let's just say that we had a blast. Both literally, and figuratively.
What an incredibly exciting shooting experience. I never really knew JUST HOW MUCH FUN BEING AN A.S.S.W.I.P.E. could be. I do know one thing for sure though. It was everything it was cracked up to be, and then some.
Edited by Rldgcntr, 06 April 2006 - 04:42 PM.