August, sophomore yr at Murray State—I used to be skinning squirrels within the dorm parking zone when a classmate walked by. I’d by no means met him, however he was carrying a pale camo shirt and boots. He was clearly a kindred spirit. “The place you going?” I hollered at him, wiping my blade throughout my pants. He was carrying a to-go tray from Winslow Cafeteria.
“Getting nearer to a crapper earlier than I try and eat this slop,” he stated. “My guts nonetheless aren’t used to it.”
“Come over right here and assist me with these squirrels, then,” I stated. “I obtained three good younger ones, all out of hickory nut bushes. We’ll fry them locally kitchen.”
He smiled and launched himself as Ryan McCafferty. “Shoot,” he stated. “I’d as quickly eat a squirrel as steak.” He tossed the dinner tray into my truck mattress, the place it rode for a while, and opened his personal pocketknife. “Had been they reducing good?” he requested. “As a result of I hold a bit of .410 in my Jeep, if you wish to go once more.”
The following morning, a couple of hours earlier than class, we minimize by means of a skinny fog and throughout a cattle pasture right into a 20-acre block of hardwoods. I’d hunted there the final half hour of sunshine the night earlier than, and I’d have sworn a lot of the grey squirrels in Kentucky had been piled into half a dozen shagbark hickories on the sting of that woodlot. It was already 80 levels.
“Man, take a look at the shavings in right here,” McCafferty whispered. He picked up a chunk of inexperienced hickory husk, freshly chewed by a squirrel. Inside a minute, leaves rustled overhead and a golf ball–dimension nut got here bombing out of the cover. A squirrel flashed into view, leaping from one limb to the following. Neither McCafferty nor I stated a phrase. He merely eased the little single barrel to his shoulder and thumbed the hammer again with a uninteresting, metallic click on. The gun popped, and the squirrel crashed to the bottom with a thud. Quickly one other limb shook overhead, and this time it was my flip to shoot.
With all of the hoopla surrounding dove and early goose seasons, you’d assume each hunter within the nation had been ending up a jail stint on Sept. 1. However the first searching alternative in a lot of the jap U.S. begins weeks earlier than that, with squirrel season.
It’s a good time to hunt. Younger grey squirrels born in early summer time are freshly weaned and scurrying about in late August. Hickory nuts are starting to ripen, and squirrels will crowd into one of the best bushes in the hunt for the candy, new mast.
Discovering a superb place to hunt is simple. Nearly any block of mature hardwood timber will most likely have a couple of hickory nut bushes and loads of squirrels. I want to scout within the evenings and hunt within the mornings, since August squirrels appear to be most energetic in the course of the first two hours of daylight. There are a dozen or extra hickory species in North America, however two of the commonest—and most well-liked by squirrels—are the shagbark hickory and the pignut. Each have spearpoint-shaped leaves, and the trunk of a shagbark is roofed with tough, scaly bark. Study to determine each forms of tree, after which merely stroll from one to the following, inspecting the bottom beneath. If squirrels are feeding in a specific tree, the bottom beneath might be plagued by items of white-and-green hickory nut hull. Arrange close to such a tree simply earlier than taking pictures mild, and motion is all however assured.
Summer season Weapons
A shotgun is the simplest device this time of yr. McCafferty likes sneaking in shut with a Full-choked .410, loaded with Three-inch No. four shotshells. I want a 20-gauge—additionally choked Full—and a 1-ounce load of No. 6s. You possibly can tumble squirrels out of towering hickories with that combo.
A scoped .22 rifle makes issues extra fascinating. The problem in August lies not in getting inside vary however in selecting out a clear shot. Typically, you gained’t be capable to see way more than a squirrel’s head in your crosshairs—however a crack marksman such as you gained’t have to see the rest.
Open for Enterprise
McCafferty and I’ve squirrel hunted collectively each season within the decade since we graduated. Final fall, we leaned in opposition to his Jeep, sipping espresso and watching the morning sky soften on one other opening morning. Was once, whereas we waited for taking pictures mild, we’d speak about courses, women, and beer. Now, we speak about our children and our jobs.
With simply sufficient mild to see, we slipped into the woodlot with weapons in hand. McCafferty carried his trusty .410, and I’d even cleaned my .22 the evening earlier than, in anticipation of the opener. We didn’t have to attend lengthy earlier than limbs shook overhead, and a hickory nut got here crashing right down to the forest ground.
GEAR TIP: Drink Up
Once you’re searching the humid hardwoods in August, you’re going to want to remain hydrated. I’ve been carrying a HydraPak Full-Pressure 2L system, which is in regards to the excellent dimension to drop right into a daypack. It has a squeeze bulb with loads of stress—and a mud cowl—so you possibly can seize a fast drink and spray the squirrel hair and blood off your fingers, knife, and meat on the finish of the morning.
This story appeared within the August 2017 situation with the headline “Autumn in August.”
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