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The Eighth Squirrel Season

Discussion in 'BlueDogs Blog' started by bluedog, May 22, 2017.

  1. It was 2008 when I decided to start squirrel hunting. Now here I am starting my eighth season. It’s kind of crazy how the years roll past.

    As per usual, the farm is a busy place when squirrel season rolls around on September 1st. This year the weather was unseasonably warm in early September and with a five month squirrel season ahead, I felt no rush and no desire to sit in the mosquito infested woods. But finally a bit of a cool down and I was off on my first outing to the squirrel woods. I don’t remember much of the details of the first hunt other than I came home with one squirrel and that my mind felt renewed from being in the woods again.

    On September 20th, I had a little more free time than usual and so I trotted off to the woods with my 20 gauge on my shoulder. Usually I pack a few shells of #8 shot to try and shoot doves on my way to the woods. Perhaps because of the hot weather or perhaps because they are feeding elsewhere, doves have been few and far between this year. I’m hoping to dove hunt the late season. On this day the focus was squirrels. Last year I experimented with using #4 shot for squirrels as someone had given me half a box. I really liked the result so I bought a new box during the off season. I’ll switch over to the rifle once the leaves are down, but for early season with full leaf cover, it’s all about the shotgun.

    The morning was cool, but not cold, with the sun peaking in and out of big white puffy clouds. I was feeling almost giddy as I walked down the farm lane that runs between a buffer strip of woods and the corn field. In fact it was so beautiful that I had to stop and take a picture. And is typical of my style, I felt the need to share that picture with some other people who I knew would feel the same way. It was awkward holding my phone and my gun and so instead of trying to type, I used the voice program on my phone’s keyboard. I spoke “Picture perfect walk down the farm lane to the woods to go squirrel hunting”. And then I read what the phone typed: “Picture perfect walk down the farm lane to the woods to go screw”. Giddiness turned to hysteria. With tears of laughter streaming down my face, I very very carefully made sure to hit “erase” on the keyboard and not “send”. Believe me when I say that was a very difficult task to accomplish as I was hyperventilating and could not see well with tear-filled eyes. Humor always seems to find me when I am in the woods. I was fortunate I had another ½ mile to walk to my squirrel spot because it took me that long to stop hyperventilating and quit laughing.

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    With my composure regained and a grin on my face, I stepped into the woods. I was heading to a spot I often sit to squirrel hunt and to contemplate life. But on the way I thought I would do some start and stop through a grove of hickory trees along the edge of a cow pasture. It is a great location for squirrel, but not so great for sitting as the forest floor is nearly solid poison ivy. I hadn’t been in the woods 5 minutes when I heard a rustle through the leaves of a hickory tree. I paused for several minutes and finally a fox squirrel made an appearance on the side of the tree. I shouldered my gun, shot and just that quickly, I had a squirrel to go in my game bag. I continued on and just 50 yards and a few minutes later, I thought I heard another rustle. I turned around and there was another fox squirrel sitting on the ground 20 yards away. Another shot from my gun and I now had two squirrels in my game bag. A very good start to my hunt.

    Eventually I made my way to the sitting spot and pulled up to a comfy spot nestled up against the trunk of a big mature oak tree. The squirrel hunting here slowed down considerably but the fun did not. Oh I did see a few squirrels and probably could have shot one or two, but they would have been bad shots. I really try my best not to take bad shots. The point of this squirrel hunting venture is to bring home dinner and not to blast a squirrel into oblivion. I’ve taken enough bad shots in my early years of squirrel hunting and these days I tend to be a lot more particular.

    About an hour into my sit, I caught a glimpse of movement up ahead. For a bit, I didn’t see anything else but eventually I saw it again. The strong dappled lighting of the sun through the leaves and on to the forest floor made it hard to pick out details. It took some time but the bits of movement weaving in between spots of sun and shade finally took shape in my mind. Turkeys! Oh how I love turkey encounters. They were heading my way and I was in complete camo. I knew this was going to be great. The flock was a group of hens and poults and in typical turkey style, they spread themselves out in a fragmented line as they walked through the woods feeding. The closest birds came within an easy 20 yards of where I was sitting. This is what I live for when I come to the woods. I watched and I smiled. The turkeys continued on their way but they made my day. I stayed another 30 minutes before I decided it was time to go.

    Off to the east I had been listening to the sound of a squirrel cutting nuts and so even though the way home was to the west, I went to check out the sound. Slowly, I eased toward a big oak den tree. After a few minutes of just standing still and staring at the tree, I caught a glimpse of a squirrel. A few minutes later, the squirrel gave me a good shot and I added a third squirrel to my game bag. From there it was a short walk to the hickory grove where my squirrel hunt had started. I would have walked through the whole grove without shooting another squirrel if it weren’t for one pissed off full grown female fox squirrel. I was more than halfway through the grove when she started loudly barking at me. I’m not really sure what set her off as she was a good 100 yards behind me and I was walking away from her location. Finding a barking squirrel within the branches of a fully leafed out tree is a huge challenge for me. I didn’t have high hopes but this would be good practice. I slowly walked toward the barking squirrel. Actually I stood and scanned the trees more than I walked, but gradually I made my way closer. And then a flick of her tail gave her position away. I slowly closed the gap. I was almost in range when she bolted, but she didn’t go far. Up the backside of the tree she was sitting on. I closed the gap a bit more and just stood still. She peaked around the trunk and that was all I needed. Squirrel number four was in the game bag.

    I hadn’t had a four squirrel outing in a while so I felt quite accomplished as I walked home. One of the squirrels had a tail that was the typical color of a grey squirrel but everything else about her coloring including the orange-tinged belly fur said fox squirrel. She was a unique looking squirrel to be sure. A picture perfect hunt from start to finish.

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