Hunting season off to a slow start

Last Saturday, I went squirrel hunting for the first time this fall. When I got back home, everyone started asking, “How did you do?” Well, there isn’t much to report. The woods where I hunted were practically dead.

I got into the woods at daybreak. At about 8:45 am, I saw a gray squirrel on the ground that was about 40 yards away in the National Forest. It blended right in with the leaves, shadows and two small logs that it was between. When it stood up on its hind legs, I decided to go for it. I put the bead of my 12-gauge slide action shotgun on its head and let drive. This was the only squirrel I got or saw for this entire day of hunting.

My hunting companion did not see one squirrel for the entire day and went home “skunked” because he did not see anything to shoot at. he one good thing about this outing is that my shooting is 100 percent for the year so far.

While I was walking on a tram road to get to this certain location, I did hear one or two squirrels barking in the nearby trees. I may have heard two more squirrels barking in the distance where I got this lone squirrel. I was nowhere near enough to be able to see them because the leaves were just too heavy.

This particular shotgun appears to like the European-made ammunition I was using that is loaded with No. 6 shot. I have had two boxes of this shotgun ammo for more than 25 years and have taken a few squirrels with it.

The only other thing I saw during this hunting trip was one young deer. It did not have any antlers; and chances are, it could have been a button buck.

In the area where I hunted, the leaves are still better than 90 percent green. There were plenty of hickory nuts, along with an abundance of chestnut, red and white oak acorns. In this same area last year, just about all mast was scarce. This is most likely the reason why there are very few squirrels in this location for this year.

This outing somewhat reminds me of a similar hunting trip I took more than 30 years ago. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources had just purchased some acreage that now makes up part of the Wallback Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Clay County. My mother was still living at Cross Lanes at this time so Ruth and I decided to go down and visit her when I had a long weekend in October. During this time, I was looking forward to trying out the new public hunting area. I got into the woods at daybreak, hunted all day and did not see one bushy tail. There was all kind of mast everywhere. I could not figure this out.

When I got back to my truck to have some lunch, I met a local resident in the parking area. He informed me this is the first time these woods have had any mast that amounts to anything in at least four years. Now, this made sense.

I have not been back to this location, but from talking to several other sportsmen and women, they tell me that the Wallback Wildlife Management Area is a good place for hunting deer, small game and turkey.

The DNR has leased and purchased additional acreage to this WMA to where it now totals more than 11,700 acres. The DNR has also constructed a 15-acre fish impoundment that is stocked with trout on a seasonal basis and a 100-yard public shooting range.

The Mountain State Forest Festival is this weekend, and I will be working the Izaak Walton League booth trying to sell raffle tickets in the city Park. Right now, I would like for this area to get some rain, because everything in the woods is exceedingly dry.

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