The temperature had dropped ten degrees since yesterday, and the clouds had moved off leaving a clear blue sky. It was a crisp 60F with no humidity, unusual considering the way this week has been. Yesterday's rain softened the ground making it possible to walk undetected.
There are two areas that are my favorites to hunt in this WMA with a plentiful food supply for squirrels. I slowly made my way through the first one, listening to the squirrels as they sit on the treetops shelling nuts, hidden by the dense foliage. A shotgun hunter would have been tempted to take a shot into the air where the branches were bouncing, but hunting with a rimfire requires a clean shot on a visible target.
As I made my way to the second spot I witnessed the most amazing light show I ever remember crossing this path. There was a slight fog in the air and as the sun rose over the horizon, it streamed through the trees creating a horizontal beam of light that radiated across the trail. It only lasted a minute and was gone. A special gift given only to those willing to be out here this early in the morning.
I ended up walking the area twice, and like at the first spot, I could hear squirrels in the treetops but was unable to get anything in the crosshairs. Finally, in the distance I saw a squirrel jumping through the branches. The area between that tree and myself was filled with pricker bushes, so I backed up and made my way closer to the tree from another direction. The squirrel was gone, so I stood still and listened... a branch bounce! I raised my rifle and looked through the scope. There it was, about 30 yards out. I usually walk from tree to tree but this time I realized that I had nothing to brace myself against. Its head appeared out of the leaves so I had to take my shot. I held my breath, let half out and slowly pulled the trigger. 'CRACK!' The squirrel dropped. I visually marked a tree and closed in on it. The squirrel was at its base. The bullet hit the shoulder and passed through the neck, killing it instantly.
To get through to the main path, I had to backtrack through that tall, wet, weed filled trail, or take an alternative route. Not wanting to face the trail again I went the other way. Big mistake. I had to push through wet, waist-high pricker bushes, and everything was so dense that I had a hard time getting my bearings. I finally made it to a path, soaked again and with my legs torn to shreds.
I had one more sighting on the return trip, but it was quick and it must have made it into a dead tree. It was now 9:30 and I was done. At least I broke the ice having one in the bag. That was fun! I'll be back tomorrow.