She Picks Squirrel Hunting Every Time
Thanksgiving break is about a number of things for our family. One of those things is some time away from sounds and gadgets as we escape to the woods.
Neither one of my daughters are nutso crazy about hunting. They’re certainly not following in their old man’s footsteps seeking out full-time occupations that will involve hooks and bullets. Truth is that one wants to be an orthodontist and the other an interior designer. One wants to go live in Paris, the other says she’s a city girl. Beats me.
However, both like hunting, or at least some types of hunting and some aspects of hunting. Thanksgiving is always a time to rekindle that activity in their lives.
“Deer hunting or squirrel hunting?” I asked both of them over the Thanksgiving Break.
Both said they’d rather squirrel hunt. Neither wanted to shoot, but both wanted to go. I was down with that.
Their decisions sent me back to October 1987 when I spent the better part of a weekend climbing up and down the mountains of Gilmer County southeast of Ellijay off Highway 52 in search of my first squirrel. It was on my last morning when a squirrel came hopping down a log off my left shoulder. First shot with my Marlin .22 lever-action missed, but the second Ka-pow sent him tumbling.
Couldn’t tell me nothing.
So over Thanksgiving I took both my daughters on separate afternoon squirrel hunting excursions. My 15-year-old picked a place on a WMA map and said that’s where she wanted to explore. She was interested in the exercise factor of squirrel hunting, which wouldn’t exist if she was bogged down in a camp chair in a shooting house on that particular afternoon.
A recent deer hunt had just ended where we were hunting, and as we made our trek down a gated woods road, I pointed out all the orange streamers along the trail. I explained to her why there were fewer and fewer streamers the deeper we went into the woods.
Arriving about a mile from the truck at a section of hardwoods, we geared it way down and began a stealthy approach through a creek bottom. It had rained the day before, so the leaves were quiet under our boots. We’d sneak 50 to 100 yards and sit on a log and whisper about this and that as we listened and watched for squirrels rustling around in the last hour of daylight.
There was hog sign all through the bottom. I explained to my teenager that based on the number of leaves on top of the sign and the coloration of the churned-up dirt, I judged the sign about two or three weeks old.
A few days later I’d return to the same creek bottom, only 1.25 miles to the south, with my 10-year-old daughter, and we’d discover hog sign that was fresh. As in, that morning fresh.
Squirrels seemed active during the late afternoons on both our hunts. I don’t own a squirrel dog, so both daughters got lessons in how to turn a squirrel by walking around to the opposite side of a tree while I stayed stationary with the gun. This old-school trick worked with my oldest daughter as a shot squirrel came falling out of the tree between us.
“It’s a picture spot,” my youngest is known for saying when we’re hunting, or “adventuring” together. My phone is loaded with fresh photos of her sitting and smiling on logs, rocks and beside pretty streams. It’s just her thing… she is the one who wants to go and live in Paris. I guess in her little mind there’s only one picture spot for her when she deer hunts. Although on a side note, she did tell me she’s ready to possibly go kill her first deer. More on that later, I hope.
As the afternoon with my youngest unfolded, we jumped a pair of woodies in a shallow stream.
“Know what those are?” I asked her.
In that, Dad you’re not real bright sometimes look she said, “They’re birds.”
So we had a quick lesson on wood ducks, followed later by a discussion on rubs and scrapes that were found on that same creek bank.
With both my daughters, we found ourselves whispering all through the afternoon as we split our hunting times between stalking and sitting… with some intermittent picture taking for the youngest.
Each hunt ended with a pair of squirrels in the game vest. They each saved a squirrel tail, and those sit in their rooms, at least for now.
As I cleaned squirrels, I would be remorse if I didn’t bring up the topic of squirrel stew. My oldest shot me the ewww look you’d expect from a teen girl. The youngest, however, who spends about half her screen time watching cooking shows said she’d talk to Mr. Google about a good recipe. That’s the plan for Christmas Break.
Sure am glad my girls picked squirrel hunting.