How to build a bait station for squirrels without damaging woodland through pellet impacts or the way it has been secured to the tree...

Dear Guru, I have been asked to reduce the population of grey squirrels in 15 acres of woodland, due to the damage they’re doing to the mature trees and saplings, but the shoot owners are reluctant to allow me to use feeding stations to attract the squirrels in case I damage the trees.

The owners of my shoot are passionate about protecting the local songbirds, and the squirrels’ predation on nestlings is what finally prompted the landowners to call me in, but I want to calm any fears about tree damage, either through the mounting of the feeders, or through repeated pellet impacts. Basically, I need the ultimate squirrel feeder, and I’d be extremely grateful for any suggestions.

The Guru answers: Henry, I fully understand what your landowners are getting at, and the good news is, the answer to your prayers and their fears has already been invented. In fact, it was featured a while back in Air Gunner’s sister magazine, Airgun World, and comes from Mick Garvey, who is possibly the most successful squirrel hunter I’ve ever met. Please study closely the feeder in the photo and note the following points.

Tree-friendly mounting: First, it’s secured to the tree by an adjustable strap, which not only causes no damage to the tree, but it can also be loosened to accommodate tree growth, or use on different-sized trees.

Pellet protection: Next, look at how the feeder protects the tree from pellet impact. This feeder is constructed from metal sheeting, which will stop any pellet that hits it if a shot passes through, or misses, any squirrel sitting on the ‘tray’ at the bottom of the feeder. As a back-up, note the substantial pieces of stone placed on top of the feeder. These provide an alternative sitting place for the squirrels, plus another impenetrable barrier between pellet and tree.

Treats for the songbirds: Finally, there’s a seed-ball feeder mounted on the side, which will provide year-round sustenance to the local songbirds, who will also feed on the squirrel bait, especially if you include sunflower seeds, peanuts and a mix of wild bird grains in the feeder.

If having a squirrel feeder made from metal sheeting is a problem, then build one from wood and protect it with metal. Just incorporate the features of the ‘ultimate feeder’, and explain them to your landowners, and I’m sure you’ll be able to do a commendable job on those greys!