Most that know me will admit the “kid” has never left me. My wife would likely agree with that and then some. Part of my childhood was chasing bushy tails in oak trees on my uncle’s farm. From the first hunt…I was hooked. I have been ever since!
Early season squirrels (our season starts August 1) can be a lot of fun and a real challenge. We can finally get back into the field and that in itself is cause for celebration. Once squirrel season gets here it seems the other seasons just start falling like dominoes.
For all the fun, the challenges of such an early season are simple to overcome.
1. Vegetation – lots of leaves on the trees and woodland understory plant growth is thick. I like a shotgun for early season as your shots are likely to be close and I like the safety of knowing my shot will not go far. A good 20 gauge or smaller with #6-7.5 shot is ideal. Later in the season, I switch over to a 22 pistol or 17 HMR rifle. These will offer you the ability to take those squirrels presenting longer range shots once the leaves fall. Makes sure you have a safe backstop before pulling the trigger.
I like to sit just inside a large grove of trees and watch for squirrels moving along branches. Ground sightings will be rare in thick vegetation….but they can happen. A good squirrel call can help show a few squirrels or two when they are hiding.
Make darn sure you know what lies beyond your shot as it can be hard to see in the woods this time of year. Remember we will have lots of bow hunters in the woods scouting and hanging stands so identify your target before you shoot.
2. Heat – this can make hunting a bit tough but start your mornings early and you will be surprised as to how enjoyable this late summer weather can be. When temps really climb, look for squirrels perched on branches in shady spots or with their tails over their back shading themselves. Also, it is a good idea to bring a cooler along to put squirrels in quickly. Clean them and cool them as soon as possible for the best table fare.
3. Creepy Crawlies – Lewis and Clark didn’t wine about mosquitoes and ticks (well… they didn’t wine a lot) and neither will I. Tis the plight of the outdoorsmen to deal with such things. A good Thermacell will make your life a whole lot better. A thin long sleeve performance fabric shirt will go a long way here. Seriously, if you let these little things stop you, you are missing out.
For such few challenges, the rewards are so much greater. This is a great time to bum the woods, looking for squirrels and scouting for deer. It’s funny how their habitats overlap so much…as if they were made to be hunted together! Coincidence? I think not! This is also an excellent time to introduce a new hunter to the field. Our future depends on us and there is no one to introduce the next generation of hunters if we fail to.
Grab a new hunter, a shotgun or 22 and head to the woods. These fantastic late summer mornings can be a joy for woods bumming. Enter the trees, pull up a log and relax. A whole lot of hunting is heading our way.