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Posted:  10/28/2010 5:28 PM #24387
CTD Blogger

Joined: 7/14/2009
Posts: 10828
Last Post: 8/20/2014
Subject: Squirrels – A Great Primer for Young Hunters
October kicks off the bulk of our fall and winter hunting seasons. We will see our sportsmen and women running in different directions, depending on their heritage and traditions. Probably the greatest number of hunters will be out trying to arrow a nice fat whitetail – buck or doe. There will be others scratching on their various turkey calls just waiting for the chance to “bust up” a flock of fall turkeys. Grouse and woodcock hunters have waited all year for the opportunity to follow their bird dogs into the uplands at this most beautiful time of year. But for a handful of hunters, it is the bushytail that holds their attention.

Most of the hunters of my generation, I would say those 50 and older, started their hunting careers with a pain in the neck from looking up while sitting under a big hickory or oak tree. But for the past 20 years or so, the emphasis has been on deer hunting. With the explosion of deer numbers and the improvements in our guns and bows, it became much easier to kill a deer. With deer so visible, it is no wonder that there’s so much interest. But in reality, it is probably the small game hunter, and especially the squirrel hunter, who has the greatest knowledge that we will refer to as “woodsmanship.”

By this I mean the squirrel hunter will learn the stealth of making a sneak or stalk. They learn to walk softly and to move when their noise is covered by a rush of wind, or maybe a plane or other vehicles going by. The squirrel hunter, by necessity, will probably have a greater knowledge of the woods, its trees, shrubs and fruit trees. To be successful, the squirrel hunter needs to be able to recognize food trees such as white oak, red oak, beech nut, hickory nut, butternut, walnut and even dogwood trees. Point is, at various times of the fall and winter, and depending on what “mast” “hit,” the squirrel hunter will have to find these food sources to find the squirrels. Squirrels do move or migrate and they will go until they find a solid food source.

Why do I consider the squirrel hunter to be one of the better woodsmen, you ask? Well, I have set out what the squirrel hunter learns about the woods and how to locate his quarry. On the other hand, we have developed a generation of deer hunters who think the way to hunt deer is to put your four-wheeler in the back of your truck, throw a sack of corn on the back, drive the truck to within about 200 yards of your tree stand or ground blind. Then you ride your four-wheeler the 200 yards to your stand or blind because you certainly don’t want to walk and maybe get some good exercise. Then you dump the corn on the ground or in the feeder and the wait begins. So instead of hiking through the woods and “hunting” for your game, you sit and wait for the game to find the food.

Let me point out that this is perfectly legal and, if this is the way you prefer to hunt, more power to you. And there is good reason for this type of hunting. For one, it is easier than hiking through the mountains looking for a squirrel, turkey, and especially grouse hunting, which requires a lot of miles.

One reason for this popularity is that we are inundated with blind and stand deer hunting. I might venture to say that 70 percent of the TV shows that are so popular on the outdoor channels depict this type of hunting. Even if they don’t show the bait being used, you only have to use your head to know why it is that 10 deer, five of which are trophy bucks, walk out of the Texas Brush country and all of a sudden stop to eat on a dirt road.

My concern is that we are not teaching woodsmanship or hunting as much as we are teaching “shooting.” Now understand I come from another generation and if however you are hunting is your personal choice, and if you are having fun, go to it. Any way people want to hunt, within the legal and ethical guidelines established by law or principal, is better than not hunting at all. But in a time when we are concerned with people having an outdoor experience that presents some exercise and throws in some outdoor education, you might want to introduce your youngsters or first time hunters to squirrel or rabbit hunting. The thing that brings back these types of hunters is success and action.

I see and hear about taking very young kids hunting and, while they are waiting for something to come by the blind to shoot, they are completely engrossed in the video game they have brought along. So they sit there, fingers going feverishly, completely oblivious to what is going on in God’s great outdoors around them.

So as you prepare to expose someone to hunting, you might want to consider squirrel hunting as the perfect primer. And if you want to take it a step further, you can use a .22 rimfire rifle and scope and make the squirrel hunt a mini big game hunt. Pick your targets carefully, make sure of your backstop, sight where will the arrow, shot charge or bullet go if you miss, and get out and enjoy a beautiful October.

Posted:  10/2/2012 12:18 AM #34363

Joined: 10/2/2012
Posts: 7
Last Post: 10/2/2012
I'm 55 and went to the range last week with a kid I work with and he showed me how to use his AR-15.  I had never held one and needed to be shown how to use it.  Immediately I shot groups 1/4 the diameter of his.  He said, "you're a natural".  I said no,  that I grew up in MO shooting squirrels. ....out of trees...with a single shot 22 sights...while the head (dad yelled at us if we damaged edible meat). 
Squirrel hunting is great fun, great experience, and teaches you more than lots of other hunting experiences and we enjoyed eating them as a kid.  I'm thinking about trying hunting again and I would much rather shoot a squirrel in a tree than a deer standing still in the open at 50 yards. 
Dad taught us to be quiet hunting squirrels while still using bb guns.  My brother and I kept coming home and saying "we didn't see a one."  So one day we told my dad where we were going hunting.  We walked up the creek and there was dad sitting under a big oak tree.  He said, "Boys, I heard you coming ever since you crossed the road.  The squirrels did too.  There were 3 squirrels running around in this tree just before you walked up."  Now I still walk silently through the neighborhoods and parking lots, often scaring people by accident as i "sneak up on them".
Good read. Thanks.  --Jerry

Posted:  10/2/2012 8:13 AM #34369

Joined: 4/15/2008
Posts: 312
Last Post: 4/14/2014
I grew up hunting squirrels in Illinois. Unfortunately up to around my junior year in high school, it was illegal to hunt them with rifles on public land. Shotguns work but can make one hell of a mess if you aren't careful. They changed the law that junior year allowing rimfire rifles and the whole game got that much better. I have also killed my fair share with air rifles. I limited out (5) one day with my Beeman .20 caliber rifle and my friends with .22 rifles didn't even come close. The quiet air rifle definitely has it advantages. This year Texas made it legal to hunt game animals with a suppressed firearm. I may have to give squirrel hunting a try again.
"Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not."

CTD Moderator

Posted:  10/2/2012 6:59 PM #34396

Joined: 5/2/2012
Posts: 2063
Last Post: 9/30/2014
Good Lord, Do Republicans eat (choke) squirrels? Please, God, it doesn't come to that!

Posted:  10/3/2012 8:28 AM #34409
Long Range

Joined: 12/8/2010
Posts: 48
Last Post: 2/12/2013
Posted by:horselips
"Good Lord, Do Republicans eat (choke) squirrels? Please, God, it doesn't come to that!"
They definitely don't taste like chicken, but they are good eating. My mom used to pressure cook the old, tough boars because the meat was too tough to cook them otherwise. The younger ones are delicious when cooked on the barbecue. Crock pots work well also for the tougher ones.
Long Distance, the next best thing to being there.

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