Small game season opened up this past Saturday and I had the chance to switch gears a bit. Since archery opener, I’ve had some great times in the woods filling my freezer, but I’m not likely to be drawing back my bowstring again any time soon. I took a good fall last week and broke a couple of bones in my right hand, so I was really happy that small game season arrived when it did. That’s why the gears switched, the old .410 came out of the safe and I invited my nephew Owen to join me in the woods for squirrels.
Now, the old .410… that tiny shotgun, a single shot Stevens was manufactured in 1899 and was a wedding gift to my great, great grandmother from her father to be a, “kitchen gun.” It’s been handed down through the generations and it’s been the tool, which has provided the meat for my family’s table more times than I could possibly guess. And it still packs the same punch today as it did a hundred and twenty-years ago!
Owen, his first time hunting, was quite a little jabberbox as we searched the trees for movement under an ancient oak hammock. He was full of questions, but despite the half-whispered and constant queries, the squirrels were very active. We employed pretty simple tactics; once we spotted movement. We’d move into range and as soon as the squirrel spotted us, he’d duck to the backside of the tree out of sight. Then Owen got to take on the role I used to when I’d accompany my dad to the woods for squirrels. He got to be the limb shaker!
The limb shaker is a mighty important role in many successful squirrel hunts. Basically, the limb shaker walks across to the back side of the tree the squirrel is hiding in and, well… he shakes a limb. That action flushes the squirrel back around to the shooter’s side of the tree and with a safe shot, the squirrel falls. That was a great moment when seven year old Owen quick stepped over to pick up our first squirrel of the season; his grin couldn’t have gotten any wider if he’d tried!
That scene repeated itself seven times throughout the afternoon and little Owen had the time of his life, but the best is yet to come. We’ve got a big pot of squirrel gumbo in our immediate future and that is a beautiful reward for a few hours under the oaks. He helped me hunt them, observed while I cleaned them and he will be very involved in the creation of our gumbo. He’s a good boy, we had a good time and some mighty good eating in our future.
I love hearing from so many of you in my inbox and I thank you so much for allowing me the chance to visit with y’all here each week. All feedback is welcome and I love to hear a good hunting story, so feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!