The hunter slowly shuffled through crisp autumn leaves that dropped from a windstorm the day before. It was still early and the woods were quiet and still with a bit of frost on the ground. Just as the sun began to rise, the hunter settled down on a stump not far from a mammoth white oak and impatiently stroked the hammer on her gun. It didn’t take long before she heard that familiar rustling in the leaves. It wasn’t too far away and she could hear slow the methodical movement of her quarry getting closer and closer. The animal showed itself only briefly, and then disappeared behind some brush. The animal moved again and quickly reappeared on the big oak and froze. Her heart raced and her mouth went dry. The girl cocked the hammer and carefully placed the single gold bead on her target with blurry eyes. At the sound of the shot, a large gray squirrel fell to the ground with a satisfying “thump”. Success! The girl breathed a sigh of relief.
That’s squirrel hunting- and it’s not much different than hunting big game.
Most of us cut our teeth on squirrel hunting and there are many reasons why. Squirrels are plentiful, easy to hunt, and most of all, fun to hunt. No fancy gear is required nor do you need the newest whiz-bang gadget to be successful. My kids hunt ‘em with .410 and 20 gauge shotguns while my new favorite squirrel gun is a Cooper Arms .17 Mach II. By the way, there’s no better way for a youth hunter to practice safe gun handling than a slow-paced hunt in the squirrel woods.
I recently heard an old well-known outdoor writer mention that he must have written at least 200 squirrel hunting articles in his day- and good for him! Some may say, “Come on- it’s only a squirrel.” But, as far as I’m concerned, too many hunters are taking themselves a bit too serious these days; I mean what, with all of the monster whitetail TV shows and NOBODY has a squirrel hunting show? No serious hunter should be looking down his nose at squirrel hunting.
Squirrel hunting and deer hunting have everything in common like patience, stalking skills, marksmanship, woodsmanship, and game handling- just to mention a few. In fact, squirrel hunting is OG proving ground for deer hunters. I think more hunters would be well served to take a time-out from their treestand, fancy camo, obsession with eliminating human scent, their duck blind, or whatever high-stress obsessive compulsive hunting mindset they’ve developed and spend some more time in the squirrel woods. In other words, get back to basics. Squirrel hunting is downright relaxing. And if there’s a better eating game animal on the planet than young grey squirrel, I want to know about it!
It’s late October and it looks like this weekend will bring Indian Summer weather, perfect for squirrel hunting. I know what I’ll be hunting for; how about you?