Writer finally goes squirrel hunting

I decided to go squirrel hunting two weeks ago.

It was about 7:15 a.m. when I started into the woods with my grandfather’s old J.C. Higgins bolt-action, 12 gauge shotgun. All of the foot trails were not just damp, they were downright muddy due to all of the rain we had received during that week.

It was just beginning to get daylight when I loaded that shotgun with Remington’s Heavy Game Load using number six shot. This shotgun load patterns quite well with that old shotgun out to nearly 50 yards. Some shotguns can be temperamental to what brand and type of ammunition one puts through them. This theory holds true for all types of shotguns, no matter how expensive or inexpensive they may be.

I was only in the woods for about an hour and 15 minutes. During the short period of time, I saw five squirrels and four deer. I managed to get two squirrels with two shots. Both of them were young males and neither had any warbles. I also heard two more squirrels barking in the distance.

In this location, there are some shag bark hickory trees, but I did not see any hickory nuts during this outing. However, the white oak acorns were everywhere. When I walked near a white oak tree, it seemed that I was walking on ball bearings because of all of the acorns on the ground. The deer, squirrels, and turkeys will like this.

At about 8:30 a.m., the sun started breaking through the low clouds, and I could feel the temperatures rising. A few minutes later, the mosquitoes started working on me.

This was when I decided to quit hunting for the morning and go into town to have a cup of coffee at Henry G’s Cafe. After enjoying the coffee and talking with the guys who were there, I took my two squirrels home to dress them out.

The statewide black bear and deer bow and crossbow seasons came in on the morning I was in the woods.

I expected to see other hunters in these woods, but for the time I was in the woods, I had them pretty much to myself. The weather forecast for this coming weekend appears to be favorable, and I just might give this location another try.

The first segment of the split statewide fall turkey season comes in today and will run for eight days. The season limit is one turkey of either sex. During the fall turkey season, turkeys may be taken with a bow, crossbow, or firearm. Keep in mind, that it is unlawful to use electronic calls or to be hunting turkey with the use of bait.

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The future of sport hunting could be at a crossroads in this country. According to a United States Fish and Wildlife Survey, hunter participation in the United States dropped by 2.2 million hunters or 16 percent between the years 2011 to 2016. Some hunters may look at this as good news, because there will be less competition for the game animals in what could be their favorite hunting grounds. It also means less revenue is going to be generated for fish and wildlife management from license sales, along with fewer voices who support sport hunting in federal and state governments.

To make a long story short, the nation simply needs more hunters. What happens to a tradition when fewer people observe or participate in it, the tradition becomes less relevant. Participating in these sports will help build an outdoor ethic that supports the conservation of habitat, public lands and wildlife.

Conservation and hunting groups in this area are working together to achieve this goal by introducing more young people to this noble sport. Senior hunters need to consider taking a youth hunting sometime this fall.

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