Last Saturday, I decided to go squirrel hunting for a day with my old 12-gauge bolt-action shotgun. The place I wanted to go is a section of the national forest that I have not been in for at least 10 years. I started hunting in this area in 1973, the first year I became a member of the Mountaineer Chapter of the Izaak Walton League on Files Creek.
When I crossed the chapter property line to go into the national forest, things really looked discouraging. The effects of last year's Superstorm Sandy snow storm were still evident. I know one thing - I will not be doing any deer hunting in this location this fall and maybe for a few years. Anyone who may get a deer in this place is going to have one big task on their hands in getting it out of the woods. There are at least a dozen large trees over this old uphill tram road because of last year's snowstorm.
I got into the woods at about 7:30 a.m. It was about three hours later when I got my first squirrel. Fifteen minutes later, I got another one. Both of these squirrels were young grays. At about 11:30 a.m., I worked my way up to a ridge where I knew there were some hickory trees and fox squirrels. It soon started to get windy along with some rain, so I decided to leave this area and go back to the clubhouse to eat my lunch.
In the afternoon, I tried a different location. There were a few trees down in this other location, but nowhere near the number down where I was during the morning hours.
Another thing I noticed was that I am just not able to move as fast as I used to when I was 20 years younger. At about 1 p.m., my ankles were really aching.
It was about 2 p.m. when I got another squirrel. This was a large female gray that may have been nursing young during the summer. When I worked my way up to a flat area of the forest, I jumped a turkey; but the bird saw me first and was quickly in the air long before I was able to get my shotgun up to my shoulder. Just before it started to rain steadily, I got a fourth squirrel. Here is when I decided to call it a day.
Summing up this day of squirrel hunting, I saw seven, got four and spotted a wild turkey. The mast was good in some places and scarce in others. I only saw one hickory tree with a large amount of nuts on it, but I feel there may be others like this. The leaves were very heavy with about half of them still green.
I did not see any deer or bear, but I did see two nice buck rubs, and a lot of bear droppings.
Anyone who has any luck bear hunting in this section of the national forest is going to have one giant chore on their hands getting the animal out of this place because of all the downed trees that cover the tram roads and foot paths. Just thinking about the deer drag I had last year because of all of the downed trees simply makes me tired.
Forty years ago, several of the trees in this area of the national forest were two to three feet in diameter and are now three to four feet in diameter and prime timber. The national forest service should consider having some sort of timber cut or sale here. This would give the smaller trees a chance to grow.
Chances are, if I go back to this location to hunt, it will only be for small game with the possibility of getting a fall turkey.
I have only taken one turkey in all my years of hunting. It was in this location with my favorite .22 squirrel rifle.