Early squirrel season woes
Ahh, it finally looks like the weather might be starting to cool off just a little and get back to some more tolerable temperatures. I was beginning to wonder if the heat would ever subside.
The kids are back in school and it seems that each passing day there are more and more leaves floating on the crisp evening breeze. Let there be no doubt, fall is coming!
A quick glance at the latest Hunting and Trapping Regulations summary shows that hunting season is just around the corner. I mean literally it is here. Next weekend!
The one day Youth Squirrel Season is September 3rd. This is a great opportunity to introduce kids of all ages to the time honored tradition of small game hunting. The only stipulation is the youth hunter must be accompanied by a licensed adult.
Just one week after that, the statewide squirrel season opens for all of us who are still young at heart and love the taste of squirrel gravy. MMM, it has been years since I have had a mess of squirrel gravy. I think I need to break out the squirrel gun.
Admittedly, the first week of September is early to start chasing bushy tails through the woods, but it is a great time to get in the woods pre-season scouting for bigger game or introducing a youngster to the hunting sports.
Early season squirrels are not without their own degree of difficulty. It may be the hunter’s first chance to get in the woods after a long off season, but it presents its own challenges.
Ask any early season squirrel hunter what the worst thing about early squirrel hunting is and he will likely tell you that the squirrels have warbles. This is definitely one downside of hunting early season squacks, but as unsightly as they are, the warbles don’t hurt the squirrels or the meat.
Warbles are actually the larvae of the Botfly or Warblefly. They are most prevalent from early September through October and at the peak, as much as ¼ of the squirrels may be infected with a warble or two. By late October the unsightly grubs have dropped off the squirrels and the squirrels have healed up and are none the worse for wear.
Another hurdle in the early season is the full canopy of leafy cover. Believe it or not, those little critters that sound like a whole herd of deer coming through the woods in November can be really tough to spot as they bounce from tree to tree in September.
It is hard enough to see them in all the green cover and shooting them is whole other story in itself. The shotgun is the weapon of choice in the early season just because of all the additional cover in the trees. It just means you have to get closer to the little buggars to get a decent shot at them when they pass through the never ending sea of green.
Despite a few challenges and drawbacks in early season squirrels, there are a ton of pluses to getting out early. As I mentioned before, it is a great time to scout for other game species that are to come later, but a major bonus is it is a great time to share the woods with others.
In the early season the longer daylight hours allow for more opportunity after work and school days are done. Another big bonus is the weather isn’t generally and issue. I have never had a problem hunting in short sleeves or a thin long sleeve t-shirt in the fall.
The woods aren’t over run with hunters this time of year either. There is nothing worse than sneaking out to your favorite hunting spot to find that it is already occupied by a hunter behind every tree. Odds of that happening in early September are pretty slim.
So if you are itching to get outdoors and do some hunting like I am, an evening stroll in the woods can produce a great meal and some great memories with the family. Get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and take a deep breath and see for yourself that fall is in the air.