Category Archives: Hunting

Squirrels Attack!

 

McSquizzy

McSquizzy

 

Long-time readers of this blog might have the opinion that I am prejudiced against squirrels. While I have written about previous confrontations with the pesky varmints cute little critters, I firmly believe there is a place for them in this world: right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.

Occasionally, we outdoorsmen are accused of exaggeration. Some question the accuracy of our measurements or the veracity of our reports. Some would say it is impossible for a fish to be so big that the level of the lake drops three inches when he is taken out. Some would say that a buck with a rack that looks like a rocking chair on his head is beyond the realm of plausibility. They might, and I emphasize MIGHT, have a point, but I assure you that what I am about to tell you is the pure, unadulterated truth. I will not blame the reader for skepticism. Had I not witnessed it first hand, I would be slow to believe it myself, but in the words of the late, great Wendy Bagwell, this is a fact with my hand up.

There are those who think that squirrels are just cute, energetic little things that are happy all the time. They labor under the misconception that squirrels, while perhaps a bit shy around humans are basically harmless and the only thought that goes through their acorn-sized mind is where to find the next nut.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Squirrels are devious, destructive beasts who are capable of distinguishing between different types of firearms, planning coordinated attacks and are intent upon inflicting bodily harm on humans.

A few days ago, my two sons and I went deer hunting on my grandmother’s farm. It was a nice fall afternoon and the total absence of deer was counter-balanced by the serenity of the great outdoors. The boys were located in their hunting spots and I was comfortably situated in my hunting chair with my feet propped up on a fallen log. Life was good and I was completely relaxed.

The tranquility was suddenly shattered by an explosion of shrill chattering and barking. A squirrel had completed a recon mission on my situation and decided that I did not pose a threat to him. He doubtlessly knew this from the orange vest I was wearing and the deer rifle that I was holding (I told you they could tell the difference between guns). He jumped from behind a tree and engaged in a rush of angry monologue. I am not fluent in Squirrelese, but I had no doubt of the content of his words. He was cussing me out. This is not unusual, it has happened to me, and many other woodsmen, before.

While the first squirrel was continuing his diatribe against me, I began to hear objects striking the ground close behind me. I turned around in my seat and craned my neck to look up in the hickory tree behind me. Another squirrel had snuck up behind me while I was distracted by his partner and was bombing me with nuts. He would scamper along a limb until he found a nut that hadn’t yet fallen, pull the nut off the branch and launch it in my direction. He fired six or seven shots. He didn’t just chunk them randomly, I could see him actually taking aim, adjusting for the wind and elevation. The only thing that kept me from getting hit was the fact that he was too weak to throw them far enough away from the tree. Had he been as big as even a fox squirrel or raccoon, I would undoubtedly have knots on my head now.

So be careful, my friends, next time you are around these scampering, chattering, bombarding menaces. They may look cute and charming, but they are probably just on a recon mission to find the best way to attack you.

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Favorite Things About Fall

   As I sat watching my son practice soccer last evening, I noticed a cool edge in the weather. It immediately caused me to perk up, fall is in the air!

   Fall is my favorite season. There are so many things about it that I love: cooler weather, football, hunting, bonfires, Thanksgiving…so many things.

   So what do you like about Fall? Or, if you prefer another season, please share with us why.

   God bless and have a great weekend.

The Great Yellowjacket Caper

   From time to time, I enjoy writing about the outdoor adventures that I experience with my two sons. One of our favorite activities is squirrel hunting. We really enjoy hunting them, and eating them is fun, too. It seems like just about anything can happen when you are in pursuit of these fuzzy little critters. With the fall season fast approaching, we are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to go after a mess of ’em.

   The events of this story took place about five years ago on my grandmother’s farm. She lives about 45 minutes away from us and we enjoy going over there and hunting, fishing and just generally knocking around in the woods.

   My oldest son, Clay, was 6 at the time. One Saturday morning, I took him and (another little boy who was 4 whose name I promised not to mention–hereafter known only as “X”) squirrel hunting at Nana’s (my grandmother) place.

   It was a balmy fall morning, slightly overcast and the squirrels were active. We had already bagged two or three in the location where we had started and decided to move around a bit since Clay and Gl X were getting antsy.

   We started making our way through a stand of oak trees when I happened to look up at the sky and saw a bald eagle flying overhead. This was the first (and only) bald eagle I have ever seen on my grandmother’s farm and I began to move more quickly trying to get a clearer look at it as it flew slowly over the watermelon field that was between the woods where we were hunting and Nana’s house.  The boys were trying to keep up with me and I didn’t want to get too far ahead of them, so I found an opening in the trees that gave me a clear view and stopped to watch the eagle fly away.

   It was then that little X hollered that he was stuck in some briars. Clay, being a helpful brother, stopped to help him get untangled. I began to make my way to them, when suddenly Clay yelled, “Yellowjackets!”

   Yellowjackets, being the sneaky sort of bug that they are, often build their nests in the ground. Leaves can cover the openings to the nest leaving them practically invisible. Unbeknownst to X, when he got tangled in the briars, his little foot was sinking down into a large yellowjacket nest.

   The pandemonium that ensued could best be described by imagining a whirlwind in a henhouse. I dropped my gun and ran back to where Clay was still trying to disentangle X from the grip of the briars, even as the yellowjackets were rising from the nest and circling angrily around them. X felt the prick of the briars and thought the yellowjackets were stinging him and began to scream.

   I told Clay to run for it and grabbed X by his arm, pulling him free of the briars. His shoe (brand new–naturally I had grabbed the wrong ones that morning) came off in the yellowjacket nest. I drug him through the woods with the yellowjackets in pursuit as we tried to catch up with Clay who had suddenly found his high gear.

   We made it out of the woods and realized that the yellowjackets were no longer chasing us, but that the boys had them crawling all over them. Concerned that they might be up their sleeves or pants legs, I told the boys to take their clothes off. They stripped down to their skivvies and for some unknown reason, they turned in unison and took off through the watermelon patch for Nana’s house wearing nothing but their Fruit-of-the-looms.

   I tried to catch up with them (just for the record, I was fully clothed) but they were running in a highly motivated fashion. When I breathlessly arrived at the house, they were huffing and puffing and crying and trying to explain to Nana what had happened.

   After a careful examination, we found that X had miraculously escaped being stung. He had some pretty bad scratches from being snatched out of the briar patch and he had picked up some sand spurs as he ran through the watermelon patch, but was otherwise alright.

   Clay only received one sting. Wouldn’t you know that it was on the very end of his middle finger? He went around the rest of the day showing people the wounded digit. I finally told him, “Son, you either have to show them all your fingers or none of them.” (I didn’t want people to think the preacher’s kid was giving them the one-fingered salute, you understand.)

   Eventually, I went back out there and retrieved their clothes, my gun and other paraphenalia that they had shed in their flight. Unfortunately, the new shoe that X lost had to stay with the yellowjackets. By the time I got back they had adopted it as part of their house and were having a victory party in it.

   There have been times when I have questioned the intellectual abilities of squirrels, but this experience made me wonder if maybe the squirrels had formed some kind of military alliance with the yellowjackets.

   Nah, I guess that’s just me being paranoid.

   Or is it…

Editorial note: This story was approved by all of those involved in the squirrel hunt. X read and approved this article before it was posted.

The Squirrel Who Wouldn’t Die

Sometime back, I ran a post on What I Love About Fall. In it I mentioned some of the hunting adventures I have had with my two sons, Clay and Glen. One of these we call the episode of the Squirrel Who Wouldn’t Die.

I should probably issue a disclaimer at this point. This is a true story. Every detail is factual. Animals die violently in this story. If you are one of the PETA types or a tree-hugger, you probably should not read this post. This would be a good time to go work on a placard for your next fur coat protest or something. 😉

Now, on with the story.

As I have frequently stated, I live in the country. One thing we like to do in the country is hunt squirrels. Now if you don’t live in the country, you might think that squirrels are simply little fuzzy creatures whose primary purpose in life is to eat acorns and entertain us with their cuteness and their highway aerobics. In fact, earlier this week the Washington Post ran an article about how cool squirrels were. I just shook my head in amazement when I read it.

You see, country squirrels, (perhaps unlike their city kin) are destructive little rascals. When you plant a garden in the spring, they dig up the seeds and eat them. If any corn stalks happen to develop, they climb the stalks and eat the ears of corn. If you happen to salvage any corn, they then break into the corn crib and steal it.

This time of year, they are wreaking havoc on all of the pecan trees. I have a huge oak tree in my yard with plenty of nice sweet acorns. Do you think they are interested? Not on your life! They would rather eat the pecans. I can’t really blame them for their good taste in nuts, it is just that pecans were intended for human consumption.

I digress.

Last year, my neighbor asked me if I would be so kind as to help him eliminate some of these furry little pests. He didn’t have to ask twice. My sons and I being the outdoorsmen that we are, jumped on this opportunity like a chicken on a junebug. Squirrels are fun to hunt, and they taste good, too. Fry them up and serve them with biscuits and gravy and you have meal that is calculated to make a bulldog slap his mama. This is especially true if the squirrels are fattened up on corn and pecans.

We were down behind Mr. Leon’s (my neighbor) barn, when we spotted a squirrel in the top of a humongous hickory tree. I aimed carefully, fired my 12 gauge shotgun, and watched in satisfaction as the target plummeted about 50 feet and bounced off the ground. I then stared in disbelief as he never even stopped to catch his breath but took off running at top speed under a pile of sheet tin that Mr. Leon had stacked behind his barn.

This is where it gets interesting.

I didn’t want to leave an injured animal in the woods. PETA frowns on that, you understand. So I handed my (unloaded) shotgun to Glen and then asked Clay to look under the tin while I lifted it to see if he could see the squirrel.

I lifted the pile of tin and Clay got down on all fours and peered under it. “I can see his tail,” he said. Before I could warn him about the dangers of grabbing the tail of a live squirrel, he latches on with both hands and proceeds to drag the squirrel out of its hiding place.

At that point, business not only picked up, it spiked the chart. Not only was that squirrel not dead, it wasn’t even really hurt that bad (despite my expert marksmanship). What happened next could best be described as a weedeater with the attitude of an F5 tornado. As Clay stedfastly held onto its tail, that squirrel began to scramble for anything it could find in its effort to escape. My leg happened to be close by, so he tried to climb it first. I then engaged in a series of dance moves that had my Baptist brethren seen it, they would have begun to question my orthodoxy.

After disengaging myself from this buzzsaw, I proceeded to try to dispatch it. I pulled out my hunting knife with the intention of decapitating the squirrel. Have you ever seen a squirrel rear up on its hind legs, raise its front claws and snarl like a bad-tempered grizzly? I have, and friend, it isn’t a pleasant sight (I still have nightmares about it). I finally was able to knock him backward and prepared to finish the job. Now all this time, Clay had a death-grip on that squirrel’s tail. Glen hadn’t been much help as he was laughing so hard he could barely stand up.

As the knife blade neared the squirrel’s throat, that little warrior, with Clay still holding his tail, leaped off the ground, wrapped all four legs around the knife blade and began to gnaw on it with his pecan-shell sharpened teeth.

That was one brave little squirrel. If Custer had had a few like him in his regiment, the Battle of the Little Bighorn might have turned out differently.

We finally were able to finish him off. We took him home, cleaned, cooked and ate him. That was the best tasting squirrel I have ever eaten, but six months later, he still gives me indigestion.

What I Love About Fall

Forgive me while I express some exhiliration. I will resume posts of a “spiritual” nature soon, but I must share with you what I am feeling right now. It is coming up on my favorite time of the year, fall. Now those of you who live in more northern climes than do I will probably be thinking, “Don’t you mean ‘autumn’?” You are probably thinking about rolling countryside carpeted in a vivid display of colors that no artist could hope to match. Maybe you are thinking about bonfires and hot chocolate or mulled apple cider as the changing seasons bring a hint of chill to the air.

The fact is, all of that is great. I used to live up north, so I have had the opportunity to enjoy all of that. That is, indeed, a true “autumn”.

Things are different in South Georgia.

We have very little fall color and the leaves don’t even fall off the trees here until late November and December. Hey, it doesn’t even get cold here until January when we have a three-day cold-snap and then it warms back up. We had three inches of snowfall a few years back and it paralyzed the whole area. It doesn’t pay to get out and drive in the snow here. If you don’t know how to drive in the snow, you wind up in the ditch. If you do know how to drive in the snow, people begin to suspect you may really be a Yankee and that can lead to misunderstandings.

But I digress.

Fall is my favorite time of the year.

“Why?” you may ask.

Two words: hunting and football.

Yessirree, in just a few weeks it will be time to take to the woods in search of fresh meat. Getting out with the boys while trying to avoid redbugs, mosquitoes, yellowjackets and rattlesnakes. It seems like everytime we go hunting, it turns into a big adventure of some kind. Sometime I’ll have to tell you about the Great Yellowjacket Caper or the Squirrel Who Wouldn’t Die.

And then there is football.

I dearly love college football. I am proud to be a fan of the Florida State University Seminoles. Believe me, there is no feeling in the world like being among 82,000 of your best friends in Doak Campbell Stadium, on a Saturday afternoon that is still 95 degrees well into October, watching those teams from up north fold like a cheap suit in the middle of the second quarter.

I even enjoy watching games involving teams I care nothing about. The NFL is okay when there aren’t any college games on, but give me the old school spirit anytime. Kickoff is just around the corner. I am making plans for the optimal viewing experience for several games (you need plenty of iced tea and snacks).

My wife is starting to get that resigned look on her face that she always gets this time of year. She knows that our house and conversations are going to be filled with elements of pigskin and junkfood and that the remote control will be stuck on ESPN. I, on the other hand, am going around with a silly grin on my face that just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

I am a happy man.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.