The Ultimate Early Game
The buzzing sounds of the locusts, the full tassel protruding from the top of the corn stalk, slightly cooling temperatures for the evenings all signal the coming of fall and the impending opening of the seasons important to the outdoorsman! The realization is now upon us to prepare for the pursuits most dear to us for the fall and winter ahead.
Focusing on preparation is the two-edged knife blade one must endure along with the anticipation for a successful year and results both planned and expected. As the time frame shortens, your preparation must be escalated and fine-tuned to meet your goals. Scheduling time off, building duck blinds, insuring ammunition needs are met, practicing your wing-shooting or archery skills, all amongst a myriad of other needs must be met!
As a young farm boy growing up in southern Indiana, the summers were filled with baling hay, mowing grass and other farm chores along with the baseball seasons and later summer jobs to keep one busy along with the entertainment pursuits important to a young boy. One pursuit looked forward to with anticipation was the opening of the squirrel season. Those few weeks one could pursue the bushytail prior to the beginning of the school year were cherished!
Early years, the weapon of choice was the families’ Old Model 37 Winchester Single Shot in sixteen gauge. Actually, the choice was simple as this was the only firearm my family owned. On my twelfth birthday, my dad purchased the last firearm in inventory from Heldt & Voelker Hardware, a long-time establishment on the west side of Evansville IN, as they were discontinuing firearm sales. That rifle, a Remington Model 552 Speedmaster 22 caliber initiates a fond memory still bringing tears to my eyes as both the hardware store and my father are now gone. Purchasing a block of fifty shells was an ordeal for a humble farm kid and the agonizing decision of how many additional bullets should be carried on the hunt over and above the fifteen held in the magazine was intense. One never knew if you would be overrun with squirrel activity – being prepared was paramount.
I can remember the first Fox Squirrel taken in the woodlot next to my home. He met the full charge from the Winchester as he climbed down the tree trunk only a few yards distant! The process of cleaning the trophy was somewhat difficult as this was my first try after watching my dad perform this feat on previous successful hunts. Fortunately, the process was accomplished without loss of limb or blood, although lengthy in duration!
Although many years have passed, the opening of squirrel season still beckons a stirring within to take to the woods in pursuit of this often-maddingly elusive target! The single blast from the old Winchester or the strong pull necessary on the trigger to touch off a shot on the Remington Rifle are now past, although every so many years, the old Remington will be dusted off and used in an attempt to score a limit on the fox or gray squirrels now inhabiting my favorite haunts for this purpose!
This activity forces one to become one with the woods again after a years’ absence. Listening for the rustle of leaves, falling dew drops from a swishing branch as the squirrel dances from limb to limb or the occasional bark either from annoyance, danger or outright fear coming from the distance often initiated by a Red-Tailed Hawk, Coyote or Bobcat scouring the woods for an unsuspecting squirrel! Taking time to advance on the crusty forest floor avoiding the spider webs built seemingly for the purpose to entrap the stalking hunter! The skills needed for the still hunter or stalker seem to evolve back to the forefront as the stalk on an unsuspecting squirrel occurs. After several squirrel hunting excursion’s, one’s acuity in the woods seem to return becoming important when awaiting the advance of a big whitetail or the whistling wings of the flock of teal later in the year! Until then the thrill of taking a limit of bushytails using your experience and woods savvy begins the process of the hunter once again entering the outdoor environment!