"Barking" a Squirrel?


May 17, 2003, 05:14 PM
I read something the other day about how old timers would aim under a squirrel and shoot into the tree. The splinters would then fly up and kill the squirrel. Does anyone know anything about this?
How big of a gun would you need to do this? And if you have a gun anyhow, why not just shoot the squirrel? Was this just a way to make a large caliber rifle work for hunting small game with out damaging too much meat?

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May 17, 2003, 05:41 PM
My grandmother's brother mentioned this a couple times... I think his father or grandfather used is... And I think it was a blackpowder thing. No reason it wouldn't work with modern stuff though, I guess.

He said they used it to not damage the pelt and you could often get two or three with one shot if they were bunched uf just right.

May 17, 2003, 06:57 PM
hrmm.. Doesnt sound like you could do it with a .22... I would love to hear any personal experiences with it.

Mike Irwin
May 17, 2003, 08:06 PM
You can do it with a .22 -- I've done it. Not on purpose, though.

I zapped a squirrel some years ago with my scoped .22, and when I went to collect it it was deader than a door nail, but covered in oak bark.

I climbed the tree (about 10 feet) and got a look at the branch it was lying on.

There was a nasty gouge across the top of the branch.

Pure luck, as I was essentially trying to take its head off.

Art Eatman
May 17, 2003, 08:19 PM
I'm just guessing, but those old black powder rifles used a pretty large-diameter ball. .45 was a "squirrel gun", from what I've read. So, if a guy had a .58 and his primary purpose was meat, he might not want to center-punch a squirrel at 10 or 15 yards...


May 17, 2003, 08:27 PM
Used to go hunting with me old grandpap. He would not even think of shooting the squirrel, he'd shoot just in front of it and 'bark' it so as not to destroy any meat. He was fond of the brains too, good with squirrel gravy and biscuits. When the .22 slug hit the treebark in front of the squirel, it most times would stun the critter and it'd fall out of the tree to be picked up and rapped smartly against the stock of the rifle to administer the coup de grace.

May 17, 2003, 08:28 PM
Now that I think of it, I may have seen it done.
My brother once shot at a grey squirrel that was hanging upside down on a tree limb. He missed (big suprise :D) but the squirrel lost his grip and fell to the ground. He landed on a rock and bashed his head. There was a bloody mark on his head, but no hole.
Maybe he got a mouthful of oak and just couldn't hold on.

May 17, 2003, 08:30 PM
Yep I've done it , by accident like Mike. I've tried it on purpose, and missed, but, it can be done.

Of course Art makes a good point...Did ya know- a flying ashtray from a Combat Commander, will result in "MISTY" if you miss the bark? ;)

( Gee I've done 'misty' and only learned lately what it was I had done all those times...)

May 17, 2003, 08:35 PM
I've had this happen a couple times. They were misses with a 22 into the tree, near their head. The tree bark didn't kill them but they were shocked and fell then I just gently stepped on their head to finish them.

May 17, 2003, 08:48 PM
I'd always heard it done by Davey Crockett or somebody with a large-bore muzzleloader, in order to not damage as much meat.

So one day, I'm out hunting in the big north woods of Maine with my .54 caliber Hawken. I'm almost back to the house, haven't seen a deer all day, and I want to "unload" the gun, when along comes a squirrel. He pauses as a perfect sillouette going up the side of a big tree at maybe 20 yards. I remembered the "barking" story. So, I aim at the edge of the tree, under his belly, and let loose with a round ball ahead of 100 grains of FFg.

When I picked up the squirrel, there wasn't much left between his head and his tail except bloody splinters & fur! It looked like he'd thrown himself on a squirrel-sized hand grenade! There wasn't any meat left worth eating, just all mixed up with guts and wood! Next time, I'll aim at his head, and hit him with the ball, no matter how large the caliber.

May 17, 2003, 09:52 PM
I prefer a .338 Win Mag for barking squirrels.

May 17, 2003, 10:00 PM
I like to drag a 20mm sled gun with me, just incase i need to do some barking.

May 17, 2003, 10:01 PM
It just occured to me, do you think that the bark is worse than the bite? :evil:

May 17, 2003, 10:44 PM
I prefer a .338 Win Mag for barking squirrels.
like to drag a 20mm sled gun with me, just incase i need to do some barking.
It just occured to me, do you think that the bark is worse than the bite?

You try to ask a serious question...
Bunch of smarta**es.:D

May 17, 2003, 10:46 PM
I'm trying to see if I cant get each thread I sink my claws into to burst into flames faster than the one previous :evil:

May 18, 2003, 12:15 AM
This subject used to cycle through the gun mags of the 60s and 70s, and probably before then. The consensus of the day was that those shooting 22s would have some successes, but that good old direct marksmanship was a better solution and better sportsmanship. If you can shoot accurately enough to bark a squirrel into dreamland, with its various random projectiles, you can probably get a good head shot too. and that's more humane than tree bark in the eyes,

Mike Irwin
May 18, 2003, 01:33 AM
My thought exactly, Ross.

I always tried for head shots with my scoped Remington 521T. Normally, if the squirrel was still, I was VERY successful.

Shot 42 for 42 clean kill headshots over the course of two years using that rifle and PMC Zapper.

May 18, 2003, 01:48 AM
dunno if it's related to "barking" but the old mountaineers in the Tennessee hills used to dig their balls out of the tree trunk and recast 'em to conserve lead. (source, I THINK is Foxfire books, if not a buckskinner friend.. can't remember)

Regardless.. could this be the origin of "barking" as a hunting method?


May 18, 2003, 06:33 AM
behind "barking", for all of you old squirrel hunters goes like this. The animal flattens himself out against a tree branch to avoid being seen by the hunter, who having already spotted the squirrel, places a large caliber rifle ball against the branch taking the animal by concussion. It's quite effective and was the preferred method in the day when the same single shot flintlock rifle was used for everything from fending off hostiles to filling the pot.

Byron Quick
May 18, 2003, 09:01 AM
I've heard oldtimers talk of barking. Never done it nor have I seen it done.

I did find a way to hunt squirrel with larger calibers though. I shot a squirrel broadside with a 8mm Mauser. Hit him just aft of his short ribs. Went over and picked him up. He was completely gutted...both abdominal and thoracic cavities. Just need to pull the skin off, cut off his head and feet, rinse him and he was ready for the skillet.

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