Too warm for hunting

The squirrel season has been in for two weeks, and I have only talked with one hunter who has taken any squirrels. Most people who do go squirrel hunting agree with me that it is just too warm to really enjoy yourself in the woods.

Frankly,when the weather is this warm, I would rather be hunting groundhogs in a large open field or meadow in the early evening until dark with a centerfire rifle. I still enjoy taking long shots (200 yards or more) at these varmint pests.

The Mountain State Forest Festival is just around the corner. During that weekend, I will most likely be working the Izaak Walton League booth in the city park and at the club house on Files Creek Sunday morning during the pancake and sausage feed.

After the Forest Festival, the fall hunting season in this area will really be in “high gear.” The deer bow hunters will be out in force. The statewide ruffed grouse season will come in Oct. 14, along with the statewide fall wild turkey gun season for one week. The fall wild turkey season will re-open on Oct. 30 for another six days in certain counties and for three weeks in other counties.

Here is where all turkey hunters need to consult the 2017-2018 Hunting Regulations on page 35 for details. In Randolph County, the fall turkey season will come in Oct. 14, and run through Oct. 21. It will re-open on Oct. 30 and run through Nov. 18.

I have only taken one turkey, and it was in the fall. I was squirrel hunting at the time using a .22 rimfire rifle when the fall turkey season was in concurrently. I was able to make a good shot with the rifle at about 60 yards on a young hen.

Most squirrel hunters go into the woods each fall with the high hopes of having a big pot of squirrel stew or squirrel gravy over biscuits in the next few days. The mere thought of this makes my mouth water.

All too often, they come out of the woods empty-handed. There are times when squirrel hunting is not as simple and easy as some people think. There are several reasons for this.

The first is due to the individual hunter not doing enough preseason scouting. Just because certain woods were overrun with squirrels the year before does not mean these woods will be the same the next year. I have made this mistake more times than I like to think about.

Squirrels are not active every minute of every day. Cold weather, high autumn winds and predators will force these critters to take cover for hours, sometimes days. It used to make me madder than a hornet when I would go hunting all day on a Saturday when it was either too cold or too windy for the bushy-tails to be stirring around. The next day the weather would be perfect for squirrel hunting, but I could not go because it was unlawful to go hunting on Sunday.

The slamming of vehicle doors and loud talking will put most wild animals on alert. Squirrels will react in different ways to human intrusion in what they consider their territory. Some will dive into a tree hole and stay there for as long as two hours. Others will find what they think is a safe place up a tree and start scolding the intruder with their raspy barking. This is often a fatal mistake on the part of the squirrel because they don’t have any idea of what a gun is.

To be a good squirrel hunter, or for that matter any type of hunter, the individual must have patience. When a squirrel has been disturbed by an approaching hunter, they often jump on a tree trunk or limb to observe for a moment. Then they quickly move to the opposite side of the tree or branch and wait for the hunter to leave. Here is where patience has to be the most important aspect of any hunt.

This factor alone is what makes all sporting hunting a real challenge.

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