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Early Squirrel Season

October 1, 2015

By Chris Erwin

I remember as young man how much I loved squirrel hunting. It was a time to pick up my gun for the first time each season.
Back then there was no such thing as a spring squirrel season. That was an experiment back in 1994 and has become a yearly event. However, in the 70’s squirrel season was the mark of the hunting season, and I always tried to hit the woods on the first day.
My childhood was centered on hunting, fishing and playing in the creeks. I’m sure today most kids are choking joy sticks instead of flipping rocks and catching crawdads, but it was heaven to me.

Squirrels are abundant in all 120 counties of Kentucky. They are cutting the nuts on Hickory trees now. (Photo by Chris Erwin)

Squirrels are abundant in all 120 counties of Kentucky. They are cutting the nuts on Hickory trees now. (Photo by Chris Erwin)

I remember it like it was yesterday, standing over a flat rock as the water cleared to see a big red-tinted crawdad inching backward as I pounced on it like it held the antidote for cancer.

Back in those days I had a 20-gauge single shot Long Tom shotgun and a Winchester model 94 .22 rifle. I would oil them up and dig out my hunting vest, which could hold six squirrels with no problem.

I learned I could put two shells between my fingers and get a second or third shot quickly if I had a squirrel running through the tops of the trees.
Back in them days I hunted in both Boyd and Lawrence County. I had both family and friends who would let me hunt, and I spent days walking the hills stalking every sound.
There was one other part of squirrel season that was special, and that was my grandmothers squirrel gravy. She cooked squirrel till it was falling off the bone and put it on toast covered with the gravy. That recipe is in my 101 Wild Game Recipes cookbook, which I hope to finish soon. However, I don’t think it has ever tasted as good as it did back then. My Grandmother had a way with wild game that has never been duplicated throughout the rest of my life.

Today they is good squirrel hunting in all 120 counties in Kentucky. They are an estimated 90,000 hunters who visit the woods to bag squirrel for table fare each season, according to the National Survey of Fishing; Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation group.

We have both Gray and Red Fox Squirrels in Kentucky. Squirrels live about three years. Their primary food source is nuts and populations of squirrels are directly connected to the mass provided by nut trees. Hickory trees are producing mature nuts now, and the other nut trees will mature in September and October.

Knowing this you can plan to visit a stand of Hickory trees for some early action. Their tattle-tell cuttings are already cluttering the base of producing trees.
I like to use a .22 caliber rifle in places I know are safe. These small caliber rifles travel a long way, and you need to make sure if you use one that you are shooting in a safe location. A shot-gun, on the other hand, has a limited distanced and while you still need to be safe there is a world of difference in distance the gun will travel.

Squirrel season started Aug 15th and will run until Nov 13th and then again, Nov 16th to Feb 29th 2016 Squirrel: Daily limit is 6; possession limit is 12. Please check the KDFWL hunting guide for all the laws and requirements.
If you hunt on private land always ask permission. Don’t leave fences down and respect any request by the landowner. A little consideration will go a long way in securing a place to hunt for years to come.

Chris Erwin is the Author of Camping Kentucky, founder and publisher of Kentucky Angling News an on-line magazine available at www.kentuckyangling.com/magazine Chris can be reached by email chris@ashlandbeacon.com

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