Walking beneath the forest canopy, I could hear chewed hulls raining down on the dry leaves ahead of me. It’s mid-September and the leaves are as green and full as summertime. However, the weekend prior I located two hickory trees with chewed hulls littering the ground at the mouth of a steep hollow. Using the thick foliage and shadows of dawn I creep within range, deploy my Primos Trigger sticks and kneel down to get ready for a shot.
I brought along a secret weapon this morning to help maintain my stealth. A suppressed Ruger 10/22. This is my first squirrel season as a suppressed shooter. I’m using the same Ruger 10/22 that I got as a young teenager, but I slightly modified it to shoot suppressed. I replaced the factory barrel with a threaded Green Mountain Rifle barrel. Not only will the new barrel accept my Thunder Beast Arms rimfire suppressor, but it is a tack driver, too. I also replaced the factory trigger with the new Ruger BX-Trigger. The easy-to-install drop-in trigger gives me a crisp 2½ pounds of trigger pull to make those accurate shots way up in the tops of hickory trees. To take full advantage of my suppressor, I loaded the 10/22 with CCI subsonic lead hollow points. The 40-grain bullets travel slower than the speed of sound, so there is no sonic crack when fired. The end result is quieter than a pellet rifle!
Popping early-season squirrels with a .22 rifle takes patience. You have to wait for a clear shot through the thick canopy. However, with the squirrel’s attention focused entirely on eating hickory nuts they had no clue I was sitting in wait. I sat watching as three squirrels fed in the same tree above. They would climb way out on a small branch, grab a plump, green hickory nut and scurry down to a larger limb to chew the hull from the nutrient-rich nut inside. Most of the time they lounge on a limb obstructed from view, but every now and then one would sit in an opening.
That’s exactly what happened when a fat gray squirrel stopped to feed on a limb, leaving only his head open to a shot. With a quick adjustment of the trigger on the shooting sticks, I place the reticle of the Bushnell 3-9×40 scope — dialed up to 9X — directly behind the eye of the broadside squirrel and gently squeeze the 2½ pounds out of the trigger. The trigger breaks clean and the loud thud of lead on skull echoes up the hollow, but the blast of a shot did not follow. The squirrel plummeted to the ground, dead before hitting the brown leaves. The best part was that the other two squirrels went right along feeding, not spooked one bit.
Sitting in the same spot, I collect six more gray squirrels from the same tree over the next three hours. Only once did a squirrel spook and run after I shot. The only reason it ran was because it was sitting next to the squirrel that dropped dead from a subsonic hollow point. However, when the running squirrel stops 40 yards out on a neighboring white oak limb to survey the scene, I have the crosshairs on it, and he too ended up joining his buddy for squirrel gumbo the next night.
In my opinion, no rifle is better suited for a suppressor than a .22 LR. With subsonic rounds you can literally pluck squirrels from the treetops without disturbing surrounding critters. As I sat shooting squirrels that morning I had several hen turkeys walk within 30 yards of me, even minutes after I fired a shot. Using a suppressor for squirrel hunting is quite the game changer. I can consistently sit under a hot hickory tree during the early season and come close to or get my limit of squirrels without moving.
How To Purchase A Suppressor
If you love squirrel hunting with a rimfire and you’ve never thought about owning a suppressor, then you owe it to yourself to look into them. A great place to start is SilencerShop.com. The only thing these guys do is sell suppressors. They have hundreds in stock and they walk you through the entire process of purchasing a suppressor. They not only take the hassle out of buying a suppressor, but they can answer all your questions about which one to buy. And by the way, many rimfire suppressors sell for $250 to $350, which isn’t very expensive at all.
Hear The Difference
Want to hear the difference in a suppressed and an unsuppressed .22 LR, including the exact setup mentioned above? Watch the quick video below.
Here are links to other .22 LR suppressor reviews to help you choose.