Squirrel hunting: A good way to start hunting – Part 1

The end game is to have squirrel for a family of four that will be roasted over apple wood and served with potatoes and carrots, and with a baked apple for dessert. That means two squirrels at a minimum, so here we go.

Select woods in the country that is distant from houses and farm animals. I prefer one of two guns for squirrel hunting. A 410 gauge shotgun is perfect because it has a tight shot group and the lower gauge won’t damage the meat. I also like a 22 gauge rifle, though as with the 410 shotgun, you had better be a good shot.

When squirrels are active, it is easier to hit a moving target with a shotgun than a rifle. However, in squirrel season, we’re looking for the squirrels that are on tree-top branches and resting in the sunshine as that is the ideal condition.

Arrive early and quietly, by this I mean just before sunup. Walk quietly to where there is a good stand of oak, walnut, or hickory trees. Find a nice tree or stump where you can easily observe adjacent trees, especially ones that host a squirrel’s nest.

If it’s chilly, and it usually is, make certain that you are bundled up and comfortable with a hat and gloves with a trigger finger free. Squirrel hunting is for the patient, and for the person easily entertained by observation.

As the sun comes up, the squirrels will begin to stir. They will move toward the branches facing the morning sunshine. Because the sun is moving, they must move also and stirring is what the hunter is looking for.

Select a likely target zone on which to focus attention. When you see a moving squirrel, aim your gun in that direction and get comfortable with traversing to track movement in the area.

Now, I know your legs might be getting cramped, or that your shoulder is sore or something needs scratching. It’s OK to make some adjustments, just don’t make radical moves.

Squirrels are curious and wary. They want to check you out and surely know that you are present. So long as you are not moving around, they will venture out.

As the morning progresses, they get hungry and need to get about their business. If you have planned well and have been observant, a squirrel will have presented itself and with good skill in motion, you will squeeze a round and a plump red or grey squirrel will fall from the tree.

Immediately, it is important to gut it and slit the wrists as this will minimize a gamey taste.

So, you have one squirrel, though you need at least one more. You are unlikely to get anymore from your immediate perch because others in the area have retreated.

Now, walk to another part of the woods and repeat the process. It is a little later in the morning, so the squirrels may be down from the trees, depending on the weather. If they are down and moving around, you probably are glad to have chosen the 410 shotgun because the shot will increase your chances of bagging one on the move on a tree trunk or on the ground looking for buried nuts.

Repeat the process of staying still in an area where you can observe in the broadest area, and where you can minimize your presence by being close to a tree or stump.

When you have bagged your next squirrel, your mission is accomplished and it is time to take the prize home where you can complete the process of skinning the squirrels.

I like to soak them overnight in saltwater in the refrigerator. The next day, they can be roasted for a brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Nothing else tastes like a squirrel, and since they feed on healthy items, are too are a healthy gourmet addition to the autumn diet.

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