By the time you read this, hunting seasons will have kicked off with a “twang” and a “bang”. Bow season for deer became legal at dawn Wednesday October 1 while squirrel hunting commenced Saturday October 4.
I have to admit that I’ve never bow hunted. It’s a fun and exciting event I never tried with the main reason being my love for chasing bushy-tails, especially on opening day. Sitting in a stand with archery equipment waiting on a deer seemed to me to be a waste of my time. I’d rather be sneaking through the woods watching for a branch to move or listen for an acorn to drop.
Bow hunters see it just the opposite. They scarcely notice squirrels around their deer stand while they wait for a deer to show up.
Maybe one reason I have opted for hunting squirrels in October is that I’m lazy. Sitting on a log or sneaking along looking for movement that indicates a squirrel is feeding requires much less effort than all a bow hunter has to go through just to get ready to hunt.
Bow hunters have to do some serious scouting prior to season. There are deer trails to locate, stands to hang, shooting lanes to trim, trail cameras to set up and monitor. Then there is the practice that every bow hunter goes through. Any serious archery aficionado I know spends untold hours flinging arrows under every possible situation he is likely to find when the hunt is on. Muscles need to be toned and strengthened, the bow tuned just right for the arrow he will be shooting. He’ll need to become dead-on accurate at reading distances; he knows that misjudging how far a deer is from his stand can mean a clear miss or an ill-placed arrow resulting in a wounded deer that can’t be recovered. Bow hunting done right is work.
For the squirrel hunter like me, we’ve been out checking to see what the squirrels are feeding on. If your woods has some acorn-bearing oaks and you see evidence of cuttings beneath the tree, its game on. The same thing can be said for hickories and every few years, beech.
One of the things I like to do is sneak out into the woods at daylight a few days before season opens. I’ll slip into an oak flat, find a seat on a log and just wait. Hopefully I’ll see movement in a tree. It could be a branch being jostled or a blur of movement up the trunk of the tree.
I learned long ago that every thing that moves in a tree in the woods in October is not necessarily a squirrel. It could be a blue jay or woodpecker. Studying the way birds move in a tree is different from the movement caused by a squirrel. Birds flutter; squirrels don’t. They’re more likely to jostle the end of a branch when they’re there feeding on acorns.
Using your ears is another good way to locate squirrels. When they’re feeding on hickory nuts, the hard shells aren’t easy to crack so you’ll hear a steady “whack…whack…whack” as a bushy tail chisels away the tough husk to get to the nut inside. If the food source is acorns, listen for the steady patter of acorn parts falling to the ground.
Once season opens and you’re hunting for real, be aware of what you have seen and heard when you bag the first squirrel. If the food supply is plentiful, you may do well to just sit tight and watch before picking up the downed squirrel. Chances are in a few minutes, others feeding in the area that paused at your shot will soon go back to their normal routine and you might be able to collect several without leaving your seat.
Whether you prefer to hear the “twang” of an arrow or the “bang” of your firearm, that enchanted time is here. Be sure of your target, practice safety and have fun.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.