A blog by Bob Rich. Squirrel Hunting, Henry Rifles, Reloading, Range Shooting and More!


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Did you know that woodchucks can climb trees?

(Photo by Tim Piper, used by permission)

I'm guessing it was about seven years ago that I was on a hunt in the middle of summer when I stumbled upon a woodchuck standing in an open field. It spotted me about the same time I saw it, and it scrambled out of the low grass into  the high, brushy stuff at the edge. I had checked out this area a few weeks earlier and noticed that there was a big open sewer pipe just below this tree so I assumed it was hiding in there. The open field was about 20 yards wide, so I went to the other side which was lined by trees and backed by a hill, and took a seat. With the open field between us I figured that eventually it would forget about me and return to the field to warm iself in the sun and I could take my shot.

After about an hour of waiting I had run out of patience and it was time to call it quits. I stood up and within seconds I was shocked to see the woodchuck scramble down from the tree and run toward the open pipe.

I hunted woodchucks with my older brother in vast open farm fields from time to time since I was 12, but I never had any idea that they could climb trees like a squirrel! I posted this story in our facebook 'Squirrel Hunter' group to give members a literal 'heads up' when chuck hunting. Until  then, I always had my eyes riveted to the ground when chuck hunting. Since this experience I also scan the trees. Tim Piper, a member of the group posted this photo today that he took of a woodchuck in his yard. I had mentioned that maybe they only climb when in danger, but he said this one climbed to see if the grass was greener on the other side of the fence. Someone else mentioned that he's seen chucks climb trees to eat the helicopters in his maple tree. Were you aware that chucks can climb? If so, tell us your story. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Shooting the Henry H001 .22 w/ CCI Quiet .22

Saturday was my first opportunity to take the new Henry H001 into the woods. The day I got the rifle I mounted my BSA scope, stuck my LaserLyte green laser in the barrel and dialed it in on a tree about 20 yards behind my house. Then I took about 20 shots of CCI Quiet .22 from about 20 feet into a bullet trap across my basement. Saturday I decided to take the Henry out and scout some coyote, and if I was lucky I might see a woodchuck. It's early in the season but you never know. The sun was out and the temperature near 50. The snow was gone and I really wanted to be out there while it's still cool before the bugs return to harass me.

Entering the woods around 10am I really didn't expect to see anything, but I did spot a couple of squirrels. Of course I left them alone to multiply themselves for the Fall, but I now know where they live. I'll be watching for squirrel movement all Summer so when the season opens, I'll know where to hunt.

I at least had to get off a few shots at some distance to see how the gun shoots with Quiet 22. Deep into the woods I found a few one shot whisky bottles that were lying on the ground and set them up on a log. Stepping back about 20 yards and leaning against a tree, I slowly squeezed the trigger. Amazingly the bottle went flying! Then the next and the next! This rifle was dead on without any adjustment! The ammo was so quiet that I could barely hear the shots with my amplified muffs turned up all the way.

The sling from Brass Stacker worked perfectly as expected. As mentioned, I also got to try out my new ProEars Gold muffs. I connected my cell phone to the cord that plugs into the muffs and cranked them up. The surrounding sound was amplified beyond the volume of the woods without hearing protection. I could hear flocks of birds making a racket all around me. I fired up the podcast app on the phone and launched an 'Up North Journal' podcast. So as I hunted I was able to catch up on my podcasts, able to hear my surroundings, my hearing protected from damaging sounds, and the wildlife around me was none the wiser. Quiet .22 is subsonic and so quiet that I could barely hear the shot. The songbirds around me didn't move. Even so, at 20 yards the bullet traveled straight and true, smashing the tiny bottles that were only about an inch in diameter. This is going to be a winning combination come September squirrel season. Especially with CCI's new Quiet Segmented .22.

The one problem I've had in past seasons with Quiet .22 is that the bullet didn't have enough punch to create an exit wound. I'd always find the bullet in the squirrel, like a lump pushing out against the fir (If you look at posts a couple years back you can see photographs). The problem was that unless there was a head shot, the squirrel was usually able to crawl away once dropped from a tree; sometimes to crawl into a hole, drag itself into a swamp or just crawl where it couldn't be found. It is critical to get a second or third shot into it to put the squirrel away. On the plus side the shots are quiet so they likely won't spook other squirrels in the area. The negative is that I'd usually have to reveal my position to take those extra shots. The segmented Quiet .22 breaks into 4 parts and should be able to do enough internal organ damage to kill the squirrel quickly without a follow-up shot. It is expensive ammo, so I'll be using it sparingly.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Fried squirrel for dinner tonight!

Soak squirrel is salt water for 24 hours. Slow boil for 3 hrs until tender. I only used the legs.

 Remove any stray hair

My gas grill is in storage for the winter so I brought out my Coleman.

Here's my batter recipe:
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • a bunch of Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 egg
I drop a dab of batter into the oil and when it bubbles and jumps around, it's hot enough.

Deep fry until brown. Remove squirrel and put on paper towels.

 The best squirrel I ever made. Crispy batter and the squirrel was so sweet and tender it fell right off the bone.

I have new leather items from BrassStacker to show you!

I just took photos of some new Brass Stacker products that just arrived at my doorstep. Brass Stacker products have proven to be of the highest quality while adding to the beauty of my long guns. Over the past couple of years I've been using their harnessed slings on my .22s. Last Fall I squirrel hunted with Henry's new .410 which comes with swivel studs pre-installed. I put a Brass Stacker sling and lever wrap on the shotgun, and hunted with it all season. All of their products have proven to be top quality and have made hunting easier. Something as simple as the lever wrap reduces the opening in the loop a bit reducing finger travel while cushioning the fingers from smacking into metal. It's an inexpensive little touch that makes a gun look even nicer.

I'll be installing the cartridge bandolier on the Scabbard so I'll always have some extra ammo on hand. I don't blow through a lot of ammo while scouting for coyote, so this should be perfect.

Henry .22s don't come with pre-installed swivel studs to attach a sling, so a harnessed rifle sling is a necessity if you want a sling and prefer not to drill holes in your stock. I currently use Brass Stacker harnesses on two of my 22's. They add to the look of the rifles and make them so much easier to carry while squirrel hunting. I've found that the harness can be swapped back and forth between all of my Henry .22s, as long as they have the Brass Stacker swivel mount attached to the loading tube. I keep the swivel stud attached so I can quickly clip on a sling in a matter of seconds. Slip in the pin, twist and it's locked in place. Two snaps hold the leather harness on the rifle's butt-stock, and it can quickly be popped on and off. I find that handy when I take my hunting rifles to the range and shoot off the bench. It also allows the rifle to be carried in the Brass Stacker scabbard.

The Brass Stacker scabbard is really beautiful with its sheep hide fleece liner which babies the rifle's finish. I plan to use this for coyote scouting so I can have both hands free without having to think about the rifle slipping off my shoulder. The straps are fully adjustable to match your size and clothing.

Over the coming month I'll be installing these products and taking photos to demonstrate how they look and function. Keep checking back throughout the upcoming hunting seasons to see everything in action. Check out my posts on the .410 taken last season to see the lever wrap and sling in action. I'm not a Brass Stacker salesman so check out their site to get the information you need straight from the horse's mouth. I just took the photos below to show you the products prior to installation and before they start getting abused in the woods.



Sunday, March 4, 2018

ProEars hearing protection

It's been 10 years since I started to hunt and range shoot using ProEars hearing protection. 10 years of regular use under harsh conditions and they still function like the day I got them. I always double-plug at the range, and the 9X amplification boosts non-damaging frequencies loud enough to I can hear conversations through my plugs, while canceling out the damaging sounds without the drop-out that others hearing protection suffers from. I'm considering getting a new pair; not because these no longer work, but because the technology must be even better after ten years of R&D and production. I have a military-related hearing disability, and it's my goal to keep the hearing that I have left. That's one big reason why I wear ProEars. It's necessary that I remove my hearing aid while hunting so not to blow out the rest of my left ear. ProEars boosts the hi-frequencies I need to hear squirrel movement, while protecting my hearing from the damaging sound of gunfire. I highly recommend these ears to all of my hunting and shooting buddies.

Here's photos of my camo ProEars over the past ten years. They grow so quickly.

Ten years has put a lot of wear and tear on me, but my ProEars function like new.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The final hunt of the season with the Henry .410

It was a spectacular morning. The temperature was in the low 40's. Dense fog, and the sun arose with a blaze. Beams to warm light steaming through the branches of the trees trees and glistened the water. I never fail to thank God when I have a morning like this. I consider it one of God's greatest gifts from heaven.

This king of flooding displaces squirrels and puts them on high alert.
Within the first couple of minutes I spotted the first squirrel. It spotted me as well. Yesterday it rained the entire day, so most of the squirrel's favorite trees had a few feed of water at the base of the trunk as the water closed in on the dry land. I've learned that when the water level changes, squirrels get nervous. Some of their trees become accessible, as well as the nuts they had buried. That leaves them no choice but to move away from their favorite trees to seek food and shelter elsewhere. When that happens the squirrels get on edge and are in a state of constant alert. So even though the land was wet and soft which allowed me to walk silently, they still visually detected me. That first squirrel scrambled up a tree and into a hole. I waited it out for 15 minutes, then decided to move on.

I did a couple of loops around this hunting spot, and I only saw one other squirrel. Again, I was spotted at least 50 yards off and the squirrel disappeared into a hole. Sometimes I hate these old forests. I decided to move on down the path to another favorite area about 15 minutes away.

I was actually surprised that more squirrels weren't moving. It seemed like a perfect morning. I blame the floodwater, and I think if it wasn't for that, squirrels would have been everywhere. About half way down the path, my fears were realized. The main path was under water, cutting the WMA in two. I had no choice but to turn around and make the best of what was still accessible.

 Breaking off the main path I followed the edge of the swamp. The water there was high and submerged the trail. Over the last few months I dropped a half dozen squirrels out of a couple of these trees. They were worth checking again. The changing light was amazing, so I stopped to take a few photos along the way.

I arrived at the batch of trees and took a seat on one that had fallen. A half hour passed before I spotted the first squirrel. It was high in a tree and moving fast. Another squirrel appeared about 100 yards out, again high and moving quickly. I sat tight hoping they would make its way toward me. Hunting with a .410 limits my kill zone to about 30 yards. After that I can't do much more than to scare it.

In time another squirrel appeared on a trunk about 30 feet away. When it turned its head away from me, I slowly raised the shotgun and took the shot. The kill was clean but it landed in the swamp. I was hoping that the shot wouldn't blow it backward, but I was wrong. The water was way too deep to retrieve it. I hate wasting a squirrel like this, but it's the chance we take when hunting flooded terrain. 

I slung the Henry over my shoulder and stood at the water's edge. If I couldn't retrieve it I could at least see it. I guess that's my way of showing the animal a little respect. Suddenly out of nowhere another squirrel appeared from behind the trunk of that same tree! At first I thought it was the same squirrel, but it was dry and I know that other squirrel was toast. It darted past me not more than 10 feet away and all I could do is watch. I could have thrown my damn shotgun at it and killed it, but all I could really do was laugh in amazement. Murphy's law. Sling the shotgun or take a pee and a squirrel will give you a sucker shot. It was now almost 10am and I decided it was time to call it a day. I had been hunting since 6:30 and I rarely see anything after 9am, never mind 10.

In less than a minute I spotted two more squirrels fighting on the trunk of a tree! They were so close that there was no way to keep from being seen. They were obviously as surprised to see me as I was to spot them, and both squirrels dove into big holes in the trunk. Since this was the last hunt of the season, I decided to wait them out for an hour if necessary. I had a feeling these squirrels didn't call this tree home and in time they would appear and make a run for it. Within about 20 minutes I heard a squirrel barking. One of the squirrels made it undetected out of the hole and was on a branch about 20 yards away. I slowly raised the 410, got a bead on it and fired. It dropped. A clean kill. Immediately the other squirrel scrambled out of the hole and ran full-out away from me onto another tree. I got on target and dropped that one as well. It took a long fall to the ground and I figured if it wasn't dead, the fall would kill it. It lay still, then began to thrash around. I took a second shot, putting it away. I put both squirrels on the stringer and for the main trail.

On the way back to the car there was still pockets of fog with more opportunities to take photos. 3 down, two in the bag and the best visual experience of the season. What a way to end the 2017-2018 squirrel season. Thank you Henry Repeating Arms for giving me the opportunity to hunt with your new 410 shotgun. It's my first experience using a 410 and I found it outstanding. On a scale of 1-5 I rate this season a 4. If it wasn't for the flooding and the massive ice problem which made hunting impossible, this year would have been a 5.

In September I'll be returning to basics, hunting with the Henry H001, which is the first Henry model that I purchased around 12 years ago. Is it September yet?! This is going to be a long summer. 


Friday, February 23, 2018

My speech to the troops as we prepare for the final squirrel hunt of the season.

Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to hunt squirrels, wanting to stay out of the hunt, is a lot of horse dung. Americans, traditionally, love to hunt squirrels. All real Americans love the sting of the squirrel hunt.

When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. Now, I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never come home with an empty game bag. Because the very thought of coming home empty is hateful to Americans.

Now, you hunters are a team. You live, eat, sleep, hunt as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don't know anything more about real squirrel hunting than they do about fornicating.
"We're going to hold onto him by the tail, and we're gonna kick him in the ass. We're gonna kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're gonna go through him like crap through a goose!"
Now, we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God, I actually pity those poor squirrel bastards we're going up against. By God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards. We're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the actions of our 22s. We're going to murder those lousy squirrel bastards by the bushel.

Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken-out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. Squirrels are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. You know what to do.

Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the deer hunters do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything -- except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the tail, and we're gonna kick him in the ass. We're gonna kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're gonna go through him like crap through a goose!

Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, "What did you do during the final weekend squirrel hunt of the season?" -- you won't have to say, "Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana."

Alright now you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel.
Oh, I will be proud
to lead you wonderful guys
into a squirrel hunt anytime,
That's all.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The last squirrel hunt of the 2017-18 season with my old 20 gauge Mossberg.

This week I put up a post on the 'Squirrel Hunter' facebook group where I asked, 'Show us a couple of your favorite squirrel hunting rifles or shotguns'. I was surprised that most of the photos were of bolt action .22s. So in honor of my facebook squirrel hunter friends, I thought my final hunt of February should be with a bolt action. I don't own a bolt action .22. My Mosin Nagant would be a bit of an overkill and very illegal, so that left me with my bolt action Mossberg 20 gauge. I had a great neighbor who was elderly, and sadly ended up getting dementia. When the local police got wind of it, they came to his house and confiscated all of his firearms! When he passed away his wife needed to money so she went to the police station to get them back. They said they no longer had them. So in other words, someone stole her personal property and some very precious memories of her late husband. This still really bothers me. I wonder who now has them in their gun safe? Enjoy them in hell.

One day years later she saw me in the front yard and came over carrying a gun. In her German broken English, she said she had a BB gun for me. It was the Mossberg 20. She told me about the gun confiscation and I was furious! But a lot of time had passed or I would have contacted the NRA and local authorities to take legal action. I guess she discovered this shotgun leaning against the wall in the closet. Until this year this has been the only shotgun I've owned since I sold my Browning Sweet 16 back in the 70's to help pay for college. This shotgun is only worth about $100, but it means a lot to me. In case you're interested, this happened years prior to the new law requiring paperwork to transfer long arms in Connecticut. Another idiotic leftist law.

Last night I found an old leather sling, at least part of one and I rigged it up so I could carry the Mossberg on my shoulder. I now use a squirrel carrier so I like to have at least one hand free when walking through the woods. The sling worked great.

It's been getting light earlier, so I arrived in the woods at 6:30. There was already plenty of light. I had a procedure on my back done a few weeks ago where they microwaved the nerves on my spine so that within 2-6 weeks they were supposed to die and give me some sciatic back pain relief. Since this would be the last hunt of the Sept - Feb squirrel season I made the decision to push myself to see if this procedure actually did any good. I headed out to the far end of the WMA; an area that I haven't been able to hunt in over 6 months.

Within a couple of minutes I saw a herd of deer running along the edge of the swamp to my right. That alone made it worth coming out. I arrived at my spot and I was seeing more squirrels than I had seen in this area in years. A few times I saw two or more squirrels chasing each other around the trunk of a tree. Squirrels were barking at each other. It was fantastic! But there was a problem.

Yesterday was in the 50's and it lightly rained all day. Last night the temperature dropped down into the 20's, so that glaze of ice on the leaves and reeds made a large CRUNCH with every step. It was impossible to hide my approach. Though squirrels were everywhere, they were usually around 75 yards away, out of the reach of my 20. I took a few shots to see if I could reach some, but no such luck. I made the decision to pick a spot and sit it out until it warmed up enough to melt the ice. It took a couple of hours and it got cold just sitting there. Now I have another reason not to deer hunt.

By 8:30 I began to notice that the temperature was rising a bit and the bright sun was thawing the leaves. The crunchy leaves had suddenly become soft and mushy and it was a lot easier to move undetected. Especially when the squirrels were in groups, chasing each other and distracted.

Before the thaw I sat out one squirrel for an hour, and that's unusual for me. I'm usually on the move after 20 minutes, but I was determined to bag this one. He'd appear from time to time, but never exposed enough of itself to give me a decent shot. Finally I decided to move in closer and it ducked into a hole in the tree, never to show its face again. Discouraged and still squirrelless I needed to move on before I blew the entire morning and being the last weekend morning of the season, that would have been disastrous. Feeding ends at around 9am, so it was now or never. I could see 3 squirrels moving in the trees about 100 yards out, so I moved toward them.

The area was surrounded by dense pricker bushes so it wasn't easy to close in. By the time I got to the area they had disappeared. I took a seat. Within the next 45 minutes all 3 ran out from their hiding spots and I dropped them one at a time. One landed in dense prickers and after about 15 minutes of being shredded, I had no choice but to give it up. Very disappointing, but I was bleeding more than the squirrels.

I moved out to another spot and slowly closed in on two squirrels digging for nuts on the ground. They both moved out of sight until one appeared on a nearby tree and ran full out on a high branch trying to get to another tree. I shot and dropped it. I now had 3 on my squirrel stringer. What a great little simple invention that turned out to be. It keeps the squirrels opened up instead of curling up in the game bag, getting soaked in blood and soaking my clothes with blood in the process. They bleed out quickly and are much easier to gut when I arrive home. They also remain much more photogenic.

It was now 10:30 so I decided to hang it up so I could be at the car by 11. I spent so much time sitting this morning that I was cold and looking forward to a warm car and a hot cup of black coffee.

Henry Repeating Arms is sending me out their basic H001 lever action rifle to begin hunting with. It should be lighter than my solid, heavy octagon barreled Henry's, and with my messed up back I'll be hunting with it next season. In case you're interested, I did do much better walking today than I have been over the past year, but after a few hours at home I began to feel it. Feb 9 was the one year anniversary of my accident.

Along the path I came across at least a dozen strange holes (see photos above), possibly from deer digging? Also some coyote scat. Maybe I'll do some predator hunting over the summer. It's been a fun season and I think I hit my limit of 40. Thank you Henry Repeating Arms for the use of the beautiful lever action 410. It proved to be an amazing shotgun. Is it September 1st yet?!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Our Great Squirrel Hunting Heritage: Siege of Cincinnati

In September 1862, Confederate forces under General Kirby Smith captured Lexington, Kentucky in the second year of the American Civil War. Smith dispatched General Henry Heth to capture Covington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. Major General Horatio Wright, commander of Union forces in Kentucky, ordered General Lewis (Lew) Wallace to prepare Covington's and Cincinnati's defenses.

Upon arriving in Cincinnati, Wallace immediately declared martial law. All business owners were to close their shops, and civilians were to report for military duty. Wallace stated, "Civilians for labor, soldiers for battle." Men in the regular army would fight on the battlefield, while the civilians would prepare trenches and other defensive features to prepare the two communities for attack. Cincinnati residents reportedly "cheerfully obeyed" the order.

Ohio Governor David Tod left Columbus, the state capital, and came to Cincinnati to assist Wallace. Tod immediately ordered Ohio's adjutant-general to send any available troops other than those guarding Ohio's southern border to Cincinnati. Tod also ordered the state quartermaster to send five thousand guns to equip Cincinnati's militia. A number of Ohio counties offered to dispatch men to Cincinnati as well. Tod immediately accepted the offers on Lew Wallace's behalf. He stated that only armed men should report and that railroad companies should transport the men for free, and send a bill to the State of Ohio later. Civilians from sixty-five counties numbering 15,766 men reported for duty at Cincinnati. These men became known as the "Squirrel Hunters."

Many of the Squirrel Hunters had no military training and carried antiquated weapons. Despite these shortcomings, they still rallied together to help defend Ohio from Confederate invasion. City officials commandeered Cincinnati's Fifth Street Markethouse to serve as a dining hall for the volunteers. Churches, meeting halls, and warehouses served as barracks. One day after he called for the volunteers, Governor Tod requested Ohioans to stop sending men for duty.

Thanks to the actions of Wallace and Tod, Covington and Cincinnati had adequate defenses to repel Heth's advance within two days. Wallace quickly lifted martial law and allowed all businesses to reopen except those that sold alcoholic beverages. By September 13, 1862, news reached Cincinnati that the Confederate forces were withdrawing from Kentucky and that Cincinnati was no longer in danger. Wallace earned the nickname "Savior of Cincinnati" for his actions in September 1862. The Squirrel Hunters returned to their homes.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Tomorrow I hunt with the Henry pump action .22 and CCI Quite Segmented HP .22. This will be a first so I'll keep you informed on how it works out. I gave the rifle a quick sighting in at about 20 yards last weekend. I had peep sights on it but swapped them out with a basic Cabela's scope. It will be the first time I've hunted with this rifle in years. I've never shot Segmented HP Quiet 22, so hopefully they shoot the same as standard Quiet .22. The difference between the two is that Segmented is jacketed and has a hollow point. Regular Quiet is lead ball (round nose). Both are subsonic and shoot at 710 fps.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

First hunt with the new camera glasses. 1/13/2018

Today was the first morning I tried the new camera glasses I got for Christmas. Being near-sighted I require prescription lenses. I had the manufacturer make me a pair, but they didn't fit the frame and the prescription was incorrect. A total strike-out. Since I knew no one else would be in the woods, I decided to hunt using just the clear lens. Hunting without my glasses made things difficult and I missed a few squirrels because of it. I could see them, but it was difficult to gauge distance and line them up with the shotgun's bead. But at least I got to play with the camera, I was able to drop one, and I learned a little about what not to do. Next time I'll increase the resolution, slow my head movements and tilt the lens up.

Last weekend the temperature in Connecticut was -6. A week later it was 56! A foot of snow disappeared in two days due to a torrential rain that lasted a day and a night. It finally stopped early this morning but another cold front moved in while I hunted, dropping the temperature from 56 down to 30. Along with the changing front came extremely high winds. Even so, I decided to hunt... blind.

The Solution... Contacts. I've been putting them off all my life but now I have no choice.

Gun: Henry .410 shotgun.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A 6 degree hunt with the Henry .410

Happy New Year friends! It's January 2nd and I had planned to take the day off from work to hunt. It's another day in the single numbers so I've had second thoughts, but who knows how long we'll be able to hunt before we get hit with a storm that buries us and brings the season to an end? It's only 6 degrees this morning but I decided to go for it. Other than the cold it is a beautiful morning. I've found that squirrels don't like this bitter cold any more than we do. I'll be lucky if I see one squirrel out of its tree on a morning like this.

It was 7am when I entered the woods and the sun was just breaking over the horizon. I took it nice and slow because there's ice under the inch of new-fallen snow, and after last year I don't need to land on my back again. I decided not to travel too deep into the woods because with this cold it's possible to get into trouble when hunting alone.

After an hour and seeing nothing I began to widen my area, heading toward the tree where three squirrels chased each other over my head and I was able to drop two of them on December 9th. If there's two there may be more, and if not, that third squirrel might still be in the area.

As I neared that tree a squirrel came into view running across the ground and it ran up the same tree where I had spotted the three! It must have been the one that got away. It ran around the back side of the tree, then it dove into a hole and disappeared. I took a seat in the snow in the shadow of a big tree and rested my back against the trunk. The warm orange sunlight streamed across the treeline and I just sat back and enjoyed. Birds were feeding everywhere, and that's a good thing. If the birds are unafraid and making noise, the squirrels are more likely to let their guard down and show themselves.

After half an hour, the squirrel showed itself again. It poked its head out of a hole far up in the tree and didn't move. I very slowly moved my Henry 410 into position, got a bead on it and slowly squeezed the trigger. Any sudden movement would have caused it to pull back its head. BANG! The squirrel rolled over and dropped to the ground. It had to be a head shot, so I instead of getting right up to retrieve it, I stayed seated for another five minutes hoping another would appear Nothing did. Even with my insulated boots on my toes were getting cold, so I decided to get up, find the squirrel and move on. It was right under where it dropped, and it was a good head-shot.

That squirrel stringer really does work great. It keeps the squirrels from turning into stiff, bloody curled up rocks in the game bag and I now get home without covering my vest and pants with blood.

Went I returned to my car I got out my squirrel gutting gear and began slicing behind the tail. I've finally gotten down that method of skinning and I can't tell you how much easier it is. Cut perpendicular of the tail right near the anus. Take it slow and cut right under the fir layer and just above the white internal layer. You don't want to cut down into the meat. Carefully widen the cut, then grab the tail with one hand and the front legs with the other and the fir pulls off like a glove. Then break the bones with pliers at the joint just above the paws and cut them off. Work the pelt with your fingers over the legs and pull the pelt off. Remove the head, slice open the ribs, gut, and you're done. It was so cold that the knife was sticking to the skin like Schwartz in A Christmas Story's tongue stuck to the flagpole.

Another one for the freezer and I was on my way home. Oh ya. When I was leaving I discovered a horseshoe. What a horseshoe would be doing here I have no idea, but it must mean good hunting luck for 2018!

I need to do a count to see how many squirrels I bagged so far this season. There's a 40 squirrel limit in CT. A reminder not to forget that your license expired as of January 1st so I hope you renewed. I'll have a POV camera with me during the next hunt. Until the next hunt, shoot straight and stay safe.