Took the new Stevens Favorite .22 out today for a hunt up on Spruce Run Farm, where there are many hickories and white oaks, and a sizable population of both grey and fox squirrels. I took a fellow squirrel hunter's advice and bought some of the Remington Subsonic hollow-points, rather than continuing with the Shorts I’ve been using this year. He was right: they’re as quiet as Shorts, and so far as I could tell they shoot very well.

I got out there about 6:20 and within an hour I’d seen a grey squirrel or two, but didn’t get a shot until about 8:00. One paused in a tree about 30 yards off, and I took the shot. Miss. The squirrel looked confused; I could almost hear him thinking, “What the hell was that?” as the bullet went over him. I reloaded and tried another; missed again. One nice thing about naïve squirrels, they often give you a second try. In this case it did nothing more than alert him to the fact that something was really wrong, and it was time to leave.

I moved up the hill to another spot. This time a fox squirrel came along, and the same performance was repeated. I missed, the squirrel looked around, I fired again and missed again, he ran off.

By this time I was a little annoyed with my shooting, to say the least, but I consoled myself with the thoughts that it’s a new gun; it has open sights; and my eyes ain’t what they used to be. Nevertheless, a few trial shots at stationary objects seemed in order. That showed me the gun was bang on for windage but shooting high, even with the elevator ramp set in the lowest notch. Out came the ramp, which dropped the rear sight to the right height: I began knocking rocks spinning and was satisfied that the next squirrel wouldn’t get off so lightly. He didn’t.

I still-hunted a bit through a little wooded swale and the crossed a ridge to a spot where I’ve killed many fox squirrels. I sat down and dozed a bit; then was awakened by some crows who very wisely decided not to let me get a look at them, because they were honking me off and crows are legal “game” on Saturdays. Then about 10:30, sure enough, a big fox squirrel came trotting through the trees.

I pegged a shot at him and missed; but he stopped and gave me another try and this time I dropped him out of the tree, as I was getting a feel for the sight picture. I finished off from close enough range to spatter some "squirrel juice" on the gun. He was a bruiser of a young male, in…ahem…full breeding readiness. His balls were so big they must have dragged on the branches; in proportion to his body size, they were nothing short of awe-inspiring. He was a lovely russet-orange color, and I’d have saved him for the taxidermist except there was about an inch of his tail that was hairless. Maybe he’d been chewing at it, but for whatever reason he had this bare area that wasn’t “trophy quality” so I decided he’d do for dinner.

After I got him home and skinned the carcass weighed 1-1/4 pounds, so I figure he was easily two pounds on the hoof, probably a bit more. Tonight he becomes squirrel and dumplings.

All in all I’m very pleased with the Stevens. I may want to have a slightly higher front sight installed, with a gold bead; the black bead is not very visible and I’d like to have some “travel” in the elevating slide to compensate for different loads. But this gun is proving to be as much fun as it looks, and is likely to become a real “favorite” of anyone fortunate enough to have one.