Outdoor Type: Squirrel Hunting

Andy Bueltmann/Submitted Photo


Certain odors can call back memories. When I smell popcorn, I think of attending basketball games or entering a movie theatre. Some arthritis cream scents bring back my high school track days running in the chills of March and hoping not to pull a muscle. Baking bread reminds of my frequent visits to my great aunt’s house near ours. She was always baking something. That’s why I was a frequent visitor.

Recently, I applied some insect repellent before mowing grass. At the same time, I heard cicadas buzzing in our big pin oak. That combination reminded me of the good times I’ve had squirrel hunting down through the years. Cicadas are common in August, and so are gnats and mosquitoes.

The small woods behind our house in St. Croix had young timber but a good number of pignut trees and some shagbark hickories and oaks. Before the Aug. 15 opener, I had a path carved out every year so I wouldn’t make so much noise trying to slip up on an unsuspecting gray squirrel leisurely cutting on his penthouse meal.

When I was around 10, I got a nice gun, a 20-gauge Remington Wingmaster pump. I loved that gun and got fairly good with it on both squirrels and quail, the two quarry I pursued. I hadn’t yet picked up on rabbits or doves — that came later.

Getting the limit of five squirrels was always the goal. Guys I knew around town were always killing limits of bushytails, and I was always jealous. It seemed two or three kills per outing was par for me. One neighbor I recall was the gold standard hunter. This guy would not only get the limit, but he would often exceed it. After I bugged him, he finally took me hunting a couple of times. Once we bagged 10 squirrels together; my part of that was one. He had a Browning 12-gauge beast of a gun, and he didn’t miss often, killing squirrels from 50 and 60 yards with no trouble. He covered a ton of ground when he hunted, but he was quiet and stealthy.

Another neighbor told me of a good woods he had found in Crawford County that he had christened Hickory Nut Ridge, and he finally took me to see. One hillside we hunted was practically all shagbark hickory, just squirrel heaven. I never got back there on my own. I figured it was his find and I would be trespassing.

Later on, a Jasper High School teacher invited me to go on a winter float hunt down the White River from Shoals to Hindostan Falls. I recall that we saw maybe 30 fox squirrels on that trip, with both of us getting our limits. It was a lot of action and then a lot of hard work cleaning and cutting up our bounty. My family used to enjoy squirrels to eat, but I believe that was because we didn’t tell our boys what they were consuming.

Once they found out, there were no more squirrels prepared at our table. I always enjoyed squirrel meat, especially if it was pressure cooked or crock potted. Fried was ok, if the squirrel was a young one.

Glendale and Patoka dove fields look good

Kalli Dunn, assistant property manager from the Glendale Fish and Wildlife area, reports that the sunflower fields are looking healthy this year for the season opener today. Mowing will commence soon, and that should draw in the birds. Prior sunflower crops have often been damaged by too much rain. Not so this year.

There is a reserve draw today and Wednesday, meaning those who applied online and were drawn will come to the check station on those days to draw for location. Supervisors will assign numbers for a random draw at 7:0 a.m. EST. A standby draw will then be held for any unclaimed reservation spots. Glendale’s office number is 812-644-7711.

Brian Finch at Patoka also sounds optimistic about the coming dove season. As at Glendale the sunflowers have done very well and he anticipates more birds than in the past. The first day a drawing will be held for a Youth Hunt, ages 12-17, starting at 6:00 a.m. EST at the Archery Range shelter house in the Newton Stewart Recreation Area. Seven staked positions with two hunters per stake will be allowed. The second drawing will be for the standard controlled dove hunt field.

Around 15-20 positions at two hunters per are available. Hours on opening day will be 6:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Starting Wednesday, all fields will be open. Shooting hours will be a half hour before sunrise to sunset. Proper license and a HIP number will be required, as will non-toxic shot and a three-shell plug in the firearm. More information can be obtained through the Patoka Lake main office at 812-685-2464.

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