Time to start hunting now only weeks away

By GLYNN HARRIS

For folks who live for the chance to take up a gun or bow and head for the woods, that time is upon us. In fact, it has already started with dove season which kicked off Labor Day weekend.

I had the privilege of getting to sit in a dove field opening weekend. How did I do? More on that later.

In just a few weeks —  on Oct. 1 — squirrel season kicks off. I’m of the opinion that squirrel season opening has lost some of its glamour for lots of hunters. It used to be that the Saturday when squirrel season opened was almost like a national holiday. In fact, some areas had the reputation of scheduling Friday night football games on Thursday instead to give squirrel chasers the chance to head for the camp on Friday night in anticipation of daylight the next morning when squirrel season opened.

For me, the opening day of squirrel season was always like Sunday mornings when I grew up. If it was Sunday, heading for Sunday School and church was not to be questioned. You didn’t have to think about it; you were headed to church. Same thing for opening day of squirrel season; you didn’t think about it. None of the kids I grew up with even considered missing it.

When I was too young to do it alone, my dad took me along just to watch how he did it. I still get shivers a bit remembering sitting by his side on a moss-covered log back in the woods near a stand of hickories that were producing hickory nuts. 

Even though it was dark, I felt safe and secure because I was sitting next to my daddy.

A few years later, my dad felt like I had served my apprenticeship well enough and I was permitted to pack along my little single shot .22 rifle. Still later, the two of us would go to the woods and I was allowed to hunt alone; daddy would whisper instructions as to which trees to watch as he moved off quietly into the next scope of woods.

I can remember, especially on one afternoon hunt, the hour was getting late, Daddy was off somewhere and I began to become concerned that he’d forgotten about me and headed home without me. I heard leaves crunch and was sure a bear or wolf was about to attack when I saw the source of the sound and breathed a big sigh of relief; it was daddy coming back for me.

Deer season for Area 2 archery hunters kicks off the same day as squirrel season, Oct. 1. I have never bow hunted but I always looked forward to opening of gun season for deer, which opens Oct.  22 for hunters using primitive firearms and Oct. 19 in Area 2 for gun hunters.

I have vivid memories of my introduction to deer hunting. I was living in Homer at the time. It was a chilly November day in 1967 when I joined a friend, James White, his sons and a group of other hunters to gather in Summerfield to link up with Bill Bailey who had a fine pack of beagle hounds.

James set me up along a narrow pipeline to wait and see if Bailey’s hounds would send a deer my way. They did and I was able to draw a bead on a nice 10 point-buck the beagles chased my way.

It is not unusual today to hear stories of youngsters downing nice bucks from the comfort of box stands. While I’m proud for them, many of those same kids don’t know how to sneak up  on a squirrel, and I recommend that dads spend time in the woods like my daddy did with me to teach the basics of hunting squirrels which will make them better hunters for other game.

Now about my opening day dove hunt. I sat with friends on a plot that had been expertly prepared for doves. There were sunflower seeds and millet that grew there and had been bush-hogged to give the doves a food source. Their appetites must have been for something else because no doves showed up at the buffet prepared for them. We never fired a shot.

That’s the way it goes sometimes but just being out there provides a nice reward in itself.

— Contact Glynn Harris at glynnharris37@gmail.com. 

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