This past Saturday, I was very blessed to participate in the Third Annual Brookville Squirrel Hunt and had an unbelievably good time. The hunt was organized by the amazing ladies from the Brookville Outdoors Conservation Alliance and hosted on the grounds of the Stable Faith Cowboy Church on Highway 41. This year’s hunt drew 200 registered, two-man teams, and was quite the family affair as of the 400 hunters making up these teams, 180 of them were youth participants!
And our youth are the whole reason Courtney Volberg, Tammy Hinkle, and Michelle Payne organized the event. They created an opportunity for families to get their sons and daughters off of the electronic devices for a day and bring them outside to learn the heritage and history of the hunt. So many lessons about safety, history, heritage, firearm safety and handling, stealth, survival, and so much more, but most important are the bonding opportunities for the kids and their mentors.
Now, there are some who might question the mass harvesting of squirrels, but I’m here to tell you they are actually providing a great service to our bushy-tailed brethren. You see, with so much overcrowding by seemingly unrestricted development, our wild places are beginning to dwindle, and with it goes the population of native predators once dependent upon the squirrels as a mainstay of their diet. An over-population of squirrels has been the result, and hunters, as true conservationists and stewards of the wild, are called upon to step in and restore a healthy balance to the population of tree rats. If not culled by man, Mother Nature will step in and do the job for us with the cruelest tool at her disposal; disease. I, for one, prefer a quick and humane harvest as opposed to a lingering, painful end that can wipe out entire populations.
Another reason over-populated squirrels need to be managed? According to the NFPA, over 500 hundred homes each year go up in flames due to squirrels chewing on insulated wiring, and several thousand vehicular injuries are reported each year by drivers crashing to avoid squirrels on the road. How many times have you had to slam on brakes or swerve in an attempt not to run one over? Happens all of the time.
The popularity of this event has grown to such an amazing height, with teams coming from as far north as middle Georgia and as far south as Naples, Florida, and all places in between, but of course, the majority of participants were from right here in beautiful, Hernando County. And the overwhelming amount of participation didn’t end with the hunters. The community at large has really rallied for this event. Forty-six businesses opened their hearts and provided awards and prizes for the event, and even the City of Brooksville and Mayor Blake Bell, have invited the organizer and event champions to the next City Council meeting for an award and special recognition.
Organizer, Cortney Volberg told me, “Without the support of our community, our event could not be what it is…. I invite everyone to spend a day with us to see all of the smiles.”
Another organizer, Michelle Payne, added, “The kids were incredible as they each checked in their squirrels at the weigh-in. Not one of them mentioned the prizes they could win, but rather how much fun they were having!”
And it was a fun day, to be sure. The entire day, not a voice of discontent reached my ears. The boys from the Big and Wild Outdoors made a celebrity appearance and filmed quite a bit of it for their upcoming podcast, and the show host, Braden Gunn, excitedly assured me that they definitely would be looking forward to joining the event again next year. To watch the podcast, reach out to me at the address below, and I’ll happily provide a link to watch the show for free and on demand.
As for myself, I competed against a small number of traditional archers who had signed up. I didn’t win any big money, but I did win the class, being the only one to find success in bringing home a single squirrel with my bow and arrow. But I surely welcome all of you to join me in congratulating the champions of the Third Annual Brooksville Squirrel Hunt!
1st place in the adult division – Corey Cramata and Kevin Mills
2nd place in the adult division – Dave Huston and Daniel Veilleux
3rd place in the adult division – Shannon Brass and Dillon Pinkston
1st place in the youth division – Shelby Cook and Gavin Hoffman
2nd place in the youth division – Jeffrey Jericho III and Tristan Smith
3rd place in the youth division – Greyson Volberg and Albert Kersey
1st place for the biggest squirrel in the adult class – Cody Bowers
1st place for the biggest squirrel in the youth class – Leigha Haney
They all did an excellent job in the field while showing off their finely honed skills for the hunt!
I want to thank again the Brooksville Outdoors Conservation Alliance and all of its sponsors for making this event the largest of its kind in the entire Southeastern United States. Well done!
As always, I welcome any comments or questions, or maybe you’d like to share a story and photos of your own success from the woods. Give me a shout-out at [email protected] God Bless, and Good Hunting!