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

WARNING. THIS BLOG PAGE CONTAINS PHOTOS OF LEGALLY HARVESTED SMALL GAME. IF THIS OFFENDS YOU, PLEASE LEAVE AND VISIT disney.com

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Intro - A little about the author of this blog

The author of this blog is a small game hunter who enjoys hunting woodchuck, rabbit, pheasant, and an occasional coyote. But my real passion is squirrel hunting. I realize that there aren't a lot of adults who's main hunting interest is squirrels, and you can be sure there are many who find it odd. This is not a sport that one takes up to be respected among their peers. How many squirrel hunting magazines do you see being published? The number of deer hunting magazines and videos seem almost endless. Even magazines which don't focus on deer hunting feature the sport seasonally. But squirrel hunting? Forget it. I come across a few stories a year if I'm lucky, and it's usually promoted as an entry level hunting sport for kids. So why do I bother hunting squirrel, or tree rats, tree bacon, whatever, when I could be pursuing deer, turkey and other more "respectable" game?

It started when when I was a kid and my older brother took me squirrel hunting. From the age of 12 I loved pheasant and rabbit hunting, having my own hand-me-down .22 rifle and 16 gauge pump shotgun. But there was something about squirrel hunting. Instead of plowing through the brush, making a racket trying to flush a bird, this type of hunting required silence. We'd scout the trees, sometimes for hours, and once a squirrel was spotted, take a seat and get comfortable in the fallen leaves or pine needles. This time of year air is usually still and cool enough to see your breath. Squirrels fear noise and motion, so hunting on a windy day always proved to be unproductive. The bugs are gone and the leaves and brush have thinned out, allowing hunters to walk through areas that just months ago were impassable.

On many Winter hunts the snow is lightly falling and there isn't a sound to be heard other than your own breathing. Being in the woods and not in the fields means there are few noisy hunters calling their dogs, no loud, boisterous conversations emanating from hunting parties and no dogs with cowbells running up to take a sniff and spook the area. Squirrels are usually spotted from a distance, which requires the hunter to quietly moved in, take a seat with his back up against a tree and wait.

 If you're lucky, eventually the silence will be broken as the squirrel appears, leaping from branch to branch and hopefully momentarily pausing so the hunter can line up a shot. Wild squirrels are fast and smart. They're usually on high alert and are perceptive with finely tuned instincts. They have spotted me at 100 yards and they react to the slightest motion. They know every tree, hole, escape route, and could seemingly disappear right before your eyes.

 When you do get a shot, precision is a necessity since the target is not much bigger than a quarter. Hit a non-vital organ and the game will likely make it back into its hole. A head or lung shot is the goal, causing the squirrel to quickly die, lose its grip on the tree and fall to the ground. To a squirrel hunter there's nothing like hearing the crack of the rifle, the sight of its limp carcass falling from the tree and the muffled 'Thump' of it hitting the ground. That moment is the culmination of learned hunting skills, marksmanship, hard work and a lot of luck.

 It's a day spent in nature with God, and sometimes family, or friends. Memories and friendships are made that last a lifetime and some chefs have said that nut-eating squirrels produce nature's best meat. Their tails are beautiful and I've recently discovered that they can be sold. They're also a lot easier to pack out of the woods than a deer or a moose, and you'll get to take more than one shot per hunt. Add to that healthy exercise, fresh air, mental restoration and food, and what more could you ask from a day in the woods? Best of luck squirrel hunting this year, and I hope you bring back many long lasting positive memories.

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