Image credits: Unionsportsmen.org.
There are many reasons for going over the edge. From the jockeying for stands on your hunt club to the heavier hunting pack filled with a couple of flashlights, some knives, scent-killing spray, wind-checker powder, GPS surveyor’s tape, doe pee or the very well-marked water bottle that saves you from trouble in case you want to take a whiz of your very own without scent-fouling your blind. It may also be the trail camera with its all-seeing eye that draws your attention, as you’re moving up the ridge. The thought of ending up on someone’s laptop may suck out some of the fun you have when you’re hunting too.
You may walk back to your truck, get to some of your friend’s place where you know there’s plenty of squirrels, passing a horse pasture until you get to a small creek from the hardwoods. A pocket half full of .22 hollow points and a flashlight may be more than enough. You don’t even need a p-cord or a compass. Sure enough, you definitely don’t want to get lost on a 30-acre woods with no bush craft knife on you, but a light pocket may work just fine in some cases.
As you move down through pines on a slope that faces south, you find comfort against a shortleaf, only 5 ft. from the edge of the oaks, near the bushes along the creek. After 15 minutes of silence, a treetop may start shaking far off. Take your binoculars and spot the squirrel. Take time to figure out the best approach route that keeps you in the shadows, until the last 50 yards or son. Walk down slowly, pay attention to the twigs and …take time.
Going back to basics
You shouldn’t be ashamed because of the backup plan. Squirrels are always busy racing back and forth as the acorns are still on the ground. If you have ever been sitting in a deer stand before, you may very well relate to the story. You may have noticed a squirrel scampering past the other night, but you still hear some scratching in the leaves beside you. Is it a deer or a squirrel? You could give it a try and figure out if that’s a deer or not. You know that scratching in the leaves is practically all around you. By the time it’s all clear or not that it’s a squirrel or not, it may already be too late for you.
Having a backup plan like this shouldn’t make you feel any less of a hunter. It’s the moment when you decide to come back once the deer season is over, but the thing with squirrel hunting is that you can’t have it just as last thing to do. The acorns won’t be lying down anymore and the squirrels are going to be all lost in the middle of the woods. Soon enough, it’s January already and you sit with your rim fire rifle, wondering how come the squirrels have all vanished. This is why you need to get them when the time is right.
You may wake up the very next morning and have it all by the book. You go through the woods, keeping it a half hour to close the distance to within rifle range. A squirrel may be feeding on some black gum fruits, stashing constantly the goods. As you watch it feeding and stuffing, you wait until you simply pull the trigger.
It may hit the ground, but you should still remain still. A second squirrel may be within distance that you may have not noticed before. A quaa alarm means it did irritate it enough, without knowing exactly what it was. You should wait for 10 minutes or so and not swivel your head from side to side, all around you. This way you may see the little one, hardly to notice because of some branches, tail over its body. You may not realize it the beginning what it is for sure. Maybe it’s going to be wiser to hold off shooting until you know for sure it’s a squirrel.
And now you count: two squirrels down with no ballistic reticles or feeders involved. You didn’t have to use the scent bombs, the cameras nor the climbing stands. You may have all this, but this isn’t about using all that stuff. It’s about the childhood memories when squirrels were the only thing your mom would let you hunt. It’s about the moment when squirrels are enough for hunting.
With all of that emotions in your mind, maybe it’s better to change your location. Take the pray with and go back. It’s no impossible for another squirrel to jump in your way, trying the trick you as it goes to a holly tree and skitters to the far side. Wait for a couple of minutes and throw a rock into the creek on the far side of the tree where the little one tried to hide. Another famous trick, right?
So, you get three shots and three squirrels, in just two-hours walk in the woods. As you feel the squirrels warm on your back, you may still get a sense of the bullets in your pocket. Quite a feeling, right?
This isn’t about feeling like a child. It’s all about feeling like a real hunter.