Many people claim that squirrel hunting is the lazy hunters sport, but I do not think so. It is important to do some preseason scouting to have a successful season. For the upcoming season, check out the hickory trees in the woods you have chosen to hunt.
In some places in Randolph County, shellbark hickory nuts are just beginning to fall. This is the bushytails' favorite food. Look for fresh cuttings around any hickory tree that appear to have many nuts.
One of my favorite ways to find squirrels is to get into the woods at the crack of dawn, sit close to a hickory tree and listen. If there are any squirrels in the area, they will usually start stirring within 30 minutes, usually much sooner. When they come out, they often present themselves as an easy target.
The common squirrels in West Virginia are the eastern gray and the much larger red fox squirrel. The gray squirrel usually prefers dense woods, and the fox squirrel prefers open woods with large trees.
There are also a few black and albino squirrels in this state. The only black squirrels I have ever seen have been the wildlife exhibits during the Mountain State Forest Festival. Older people have told me that there are some pockets of black squirrels in Boone, Mason and Jackson counties. The only white squirrel I have even seen was in Washington, D.C., on the White House lawn.
As soon as a person finds a food source that has squirrel sign, the best thing to do is to sit down and wait. This may be the toughest part for a hunter who is impatient or too frisky. Chances are, the furry critters have spotted your approach and have quickly found a place to hide. Squirrel hunting in the woods is not like a walk in the park. Good squirrel hunters depend more on their ears than anything else. They must also have plenty of patience and some time to spare.
The first of the fall youth hunts will be today. This will be open to resident youths who are at least 8 years old, but no older than 14. All youths must be accompanied by an adult who possesses a valid hunting license and is at least 21 years old. The youth will be able to take six squirrels. The accompanying adult cannot have possession of a firearm and must be close enough to render any needed assistance. On this day, I will be watching my youngest daughter march in the Forest Festival Grand Feature Parade.
Below is a squirrel recipe that I have not had in several years. A former landlord who ran a guesthouse made a similar recipe for me. The following recipe was obtained from http://www.squirrelhuntinginfo.com/squirrels.com/squirrels-in-cream-sauce/.
SQUIRRELS IN CREAM SAUCE
2 squirrels cleaned, quartered, or cut into serving pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp leaf thyme
1 4-oz can sliced mushrooms, drained (optional)
1 cup warm water with one beef bullion cube, or
1 cup beef broth or stock
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp flour
Soak squirrels in salted water overnight in refrigerator. Remove squirrel pieces and rinse with tap water.
Discard salt water. Place squirrel, onion, thyme and mushrooms in crockpot. Pour in bullion or broth. Cover and cook on low for eight to 10 hours.
Remove squirrel to a warm platter. Combine sour cream, lemon juice and flour. Stir sour cream mixture in crockpot. Spoon sauce on squirrel and sprinkle with parsley.
This goes well with fresh corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, biscuits and your favorite dessert.