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Squirrel season opens

August 24, 2011

Editor’s Note: This column first appeared in the Greater Ashland Beacon on Wed. Aug. 24, 2011.

By Chris Erwin

It’s hard to believe that fall is just around the corner. As the water begins to cool and the fishing begins to improve, this is also a time when hunters start to clean their guns and look forward to walking the woods for their favorite game. Squirrel season has always been the signal for me to start thinking about the fall.

Kentucky has a spilt squirrel season that totals 192 days. It opened Aug. 20 and runs until Nov. 11, when it closes for several days. The latter part of the season begins Nov. 14 and lasts until Feb. 29, 2012.

These bushy tailed critters have long been the introduction to hunting for many young hunters because adults can mentor them as they hunt without affecting the game. In many cases two people hunting together can be very effective in finding squirrels as they try to hide.

At a time when parents are competing with Xbox, PlayStations and all the other electronic gizmos that seem to consume kids’ every waking minute, squirrel season is an opportunity for parents to connect and explore the outdoors with their children. I have long believed that the lessons of nature can help parents bond and build relationships that will last long pass the flicker of a video game.

If you have ever tasted the delight of old-time squirrel gravy and cat head biscuits meal, then you will know why this season is one that is always looked forward to. When I think about squirrel season, the first thought that runs through my head, is a memory standing in my grandmother’s kitchen smelling all the fixings as she loads the table with a feast that no one at any age could forget.

Squirrel is easy game to hunt. It doesn’t take anything fancy and squirrels are easy to find. While the leaves are still on the trees, I prefer using a 16 gage shot gun, using No. 5 shot with a full choke barrel. Once the leaves fall from the trees, I like to use a .22 rifle, armed with .22 LR high velocity cartridges with a 36-37 grain copper-plated, hollow point bullet. It’s best to try to make head shots whenever possible since the goal is to make the kill with the least amount of damage to the body.

If you do choose to use a .22 or any other rifle you should keep in mind that they have a very long range compared to a shot gun. You should think about every shot and where your bullet will travel if it doesn’t hit your target. You should never try to hit running squirrels with a rifle since the whole idea is to make head shots and stray deflected bullets may travel in unwanted directions.

The two most popular ways to hunt squirrels are: No. 1 to find trees that have cuttings and hulled out nuts under them. Clean off a spot so you can move around without making much noise and wait on the squirrels to come to the tree. No. 2: Walk and stalk them. Both are proven producers, the choice is yours based on your patience and preferences. The main thing is to be safe and only hunt where you have permission. They are many public lands where you can hunt, check with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources for public hunting locations near you.

The DFWLR has predicted this to be a good year for squirrelhunting. I hope you take a kid and make some memories that will last forever. The future of the outdoors will be decided by the youth of today – it’s up to you to show them the value it holds.

Chris Erwin is the founder and publisher of Kentucky Angling News. To reach Chris e-mail him at trimmer308@windstream.net.

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