I am a founding member of the Winter Haters’ Club. Since autumn really just signals the final stages of summer and our slide into winter, it runs a close second in my consideration of the worst season. A recent weekend trip to Arkansas (where it is warmer!) reminded me of the one saving grace of fall: hunting. While visiting with my dad one evening, he shared an article with me in the August edition of Petersen’s Hunting that endorsed squirrel as one of the main drivers for survival on this continent. Basically, the author indicated that colonists might have starved without the bounty of squirrels. He goes on to say that we might all speak with an English accent if the colonists hadn’t been such excellent marksmen and woodsmen; qualities that are essential if you’re relying on squirrel for dinner or trying to defeat a much larger British army.
I find the idea that we are a country whose early existence relied upon “tree rats” to be intriguing. The gray squirrels and, to a lesser extent, fox squirrels that I have harvested from woods have turned into good table fare, and this time of year always reminds me that it is time to start taking slow walks through the woods with my .22 and squirrel vest.
There is something oddly exhilarating about bringing home dinner using this method, and the solitude and self-reliance of being in the woods has always been good for my soul. Finding landowners who will allow you access to squirrel hunt is much easier than trying to get permission to hunt turkey or deer too. And as the author of the article in the magazine mentioned, squirrel hunting takes some accuracy and stealth. If you want to be a better deer or turkey hunter, learn to effectively harvest squirrels.
Of course, being in the woods has also allowed me to laugh at myself. There’s nothing quite as funny (or disturbing) as a squirrel coming back to life in your squirrel vest. I have often told my husband that small and large game alike gather their survivors at the end of hunting season and swap stories about all the follies humans have in the woods. That one would have made the highlight reel along with the time I was showing my sister how to skin squirrels!
Being in the woods can be an adventure, and since squirrels are obviously the lifeblood of our nation, perhaps you should try stalking them in the woods. If nothing else, you’ll get a little exercise, get a break from politics [insert Amen here], come away with some good memories, and maybe earn good table fare too.