Squirrel day is an annual tradition amongst a good number of friends and family in central Illinois. I was lucky enough to “marry into” this tradition and am grateful just to be a part of it each year. Since I began participating in the tradition many years back I’ve always been just as excited about the hunting part as I am about the after party. I say that because some folks come for the hunting and some come for the after party with their kids—both are a great time.
I’ve written about squirrel day before but this year was a bit different in that we were down a significant number of participants and I decided to try another way of hunting. Normally we all use shotguns given the high number of participants and the fact that in early August harvesting squirrels with a .22 is not an easy thing to do. Thick foliage often gets between you and the little dudes which makes a light shotgun, a load of 6’s and a full choke my weapon of choice this time of year. I then spend most of my time in a slow stalk, tip toeing from one walnut or hickory tree to the next.
I normally don’t break out the .22 until later in the season when at least some leaves have dropped, offering up some easier shot opportunities. This year I decided to try a new approach. Knowing this part of the farm and its nut trees well, I decided to start out on a large walnut tree that I can almost always guarantee a squirrel or two out of each year. I no sooner entered the woods at my usual hour past sunup than I heard my first nut cutter. Not one but two. I set myself up to stand with a nice wild grape vine as a rest within about 20 yards of the tree for a good view of above and as minimal neck strain as possible (which isn’t easy given that squirrel hunting involves a LOT of looking up). Patience isn’t always a virtue I’m proficient at but this morning it all came together like they’re supposed to. Within 15 minutes the first fox squirrel was coming down the tree and offered me an easy body shot. I specifically use the quiet Remington Sub-Sonics (although it seems to be hell finding any around here) to hunt squirrels. I can literally shoot a squirrel without alarming any of them nearby. It’s that much quieter compared to a traditional .22 long round.
All told I was able to harvest my limit of five squirrels (including one black colored gray squirrel—a rarity in this particular area) within two hours and never moving more than 30 yards. I saw one other gray and many other fox squirrels leading me to believe that we had a good new crop of squirrels in this area, I was sitting under the right nut tree, and God was looking down and smiling on me that morning. I walked out with my limit, no bug bites, no sweat (it was a perfectly cool morning), and that feeling you get when everything comes together in the woods, field, or on the water.
Oh—and the after party, as always, was just as good this year as every other. . . squirrel day rocks!