Squirrel season 2016-17 wrap up
I had good intentions of doing timely blog posts on my 2016-17 squirrel and rabbit seasons but you know what they say about good intentions. I don’t really remember well but it’s something about pavement and a road and a place that no one wants to go. In any case, it’s a week away from spring turkey season and I’m scrambling to throw together a couple blog posts to put these two seasons to bed so to speak. First up is squirrel season. I’m not sure I really want to remember it but when I’m having a semi-bad day in the squirrel woods in the coming years, all I’ll have to do is to remember that it will never be as bad as 2016-17 or at least I pray that it will never be this bad again.
This was the most abysmal squirrel season I have had since I started squirrel hunting 10 or so years ago. While a few hickory trees produced nuts, nearly zero acorns hit the ground in my woods this past season. We’ve had quite a number of really good mast years in a row so I guess it was time for the oaks to take a break but the numbers of acorns were horrifyingly low. This also led for some crazy things to happen in the deer eating our produce in the field season which I wrote about in my previous blog post. But this post is about squirrels. The season started off as usual with the combo of hot September weather and farm work keeping me out of the woods. Mother Nature was not very cooperative in October and I remember quite a few attempts to make it out hunting only to have rain and thunderstorms blow in and chase me back to the house. Still I managed a couple squirrels in early October over at the edge of the farm near the highway. It’s a good spot to tote along the shotgun for early season hunts with the leaves still on the trees.
And then when the crops got harvested and with no acorns to be found, the squirrels left the woods. I’m not sure where they went but they weren’t where I was. I would hit all my honey holes and sit for hours and there would be no squirrels. I would walk the woods a couple days after a light snowfall and there were no tracks. It was eerie and kind of depressing. Squirrel hunting is supposed to be fun and it was not fun at all. Fortunately rabbit season started in November and so I quit looking for squirrels. December came and I was busy deer and rabbit hunting. And then I noticed something really odd. We had a couple deep snowfalls and one day while hunting deer, I saw 6 squirrels in a small area and they were digging through more than a foot of snow to get to the picked soybean field. It was an act of desperation for those squirrels. Once again I can describe the experience as eerie and depressing. I was thinking I was just not going to squirrel hunt the rest of the season.
But then January came, the snows melted and I started seeing more and more squirrels again. Well at least I was seeing them foraging for any remaining soybeans on the ground. And so in January I decided to venture into the woods to try and get a couple more squirrels before the season ended. On January 16th I shot a big fox squirrel. I saw it fall from the tree but did not go and pick it up right away as I was hoping to get a shot at another one before I had to head home. Although I saw some, I never did get a shot at one. I wandered over to the tree where I shot the squirrel and there was no squirrel. That squirrel sure looked dead when it fell from the tree. I circled the tree a few times looking for a blood trail but found nothing. And then I noticed that the tree consisted of 3 trunks branching up from the ground. I peered into the cluster of trunks and there was the squirrel. I had to really contort my arm to get it out. When I got home and dressed out the squirrel, I was amazed. This squirrel was FAT! It had made it through the deep snow of December and was living high off the hog in the soybean field. After that I quit feeling so sorry for the squirrels. I made it out to the soybean field one more time on January 22nd and shot a grey and a fox to close out my season. 5 squirrels in one season is pretty pitiful but at least it will give enough meat to enjoy some squirrel enchiladas and a few squirrel wrap sandwiches for lunch. I’m looking forward to the 2017-18 season to erase this less than stellar squirrel season from my memory. Of course I will have this blog post to remind me. Ha!
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