Guest Post – Squirrel Hunting Perspective
When you think about squirrels, does the thought of hunting even enter your mind? These days, the answer is probably no.
Squirrel hunting was very prevalent, if not a necessity, decades ago. But today, more people associate squirrels with urban parks and raiding bird feeders. And that’s a shame because their wild counterparts are a great way for you to learn to hunt.
In this guest post by Adam Boulds, owner of On the Hunt with Adam, you’ll learn a few things you might not have known about hunting squirrels. I appreciated his perspective, and I think you will too.
What I Wish Everyone Knew About Squirrel Hunting
Squirrel hunting is not very popular, and the number of squirrel hunters has declined significantly over the last decade. But to this day, it’s hard for me to fathom why a person wouldn’t be fired up at the thought of sneaking through the woods at daybreak to ambush these frisky little critters.
When thinking back to prior squirrel hunting seasons, the image of shaking green leaves and fresh cut hickory nuts falling on my well camouflaged hunting hat has me counting down the days to the season opener.
Below are a few things I’ve learned about squirrel hunting that I wish everyone knew.
1. It’s Challenging
A lot of people unfamiliar with the squirrel hunting world are under the impression that killing a wild squirrel is a simple job. I can’t recall the number of times I have heard, “I could have killed five in the back yard last night” – and it makes me cringe! It’s almost like they are mocking you for waking up early, dressing in full camouflage, and driving an hour to your favorite hunting spot for an animal that they could so easily harvest a limit of in just a few short minutes behind the house.
Hunting wild squirrels takes preparation, time, effort, and patience. First, you have to sight in your rifle to be very accurate. You have to wake up early so you arrive at the property before daybreak. Then you have to stealthily sneak through the jungle-like woods paying special attention to every single movement. You have to be on guard and ready at all times.
If you’re a person who has never stepped foot in the squirrel woods and still assumes that hunting these stealthy beady-eyed critters is easy, I challenge you to go out and hunt wild, free-range squirrels that have not been influenced by bird feeders and the luxury of suburban life. Honestly, it’s tougher than you think!
2. The Experience
There is nothing more alluring to me than walking into the squirrel woods for the first time of the season. The smell of forest and freshly applied bug spray lingers as I make my way towards a favorite patch of fruit bearing trees. As the sun slowly starts to shed its light, the sounds of rustling leaves fill my ears and I know this is going to be the best season yet. I begin to glass the tree tops with my favorite .22 rifle, which was handed down to me as a young child. Then I patiently watch as a squirrel feeds and gracefully glides though the treetops above my head, hoping that they don’t take notice of my presence.
I place my fingers in a V shape against a small tree, creating a makeshift rest for my rifle, assuring that I make a clean and ethical shot. Seconds seem like minutes as part of the squirrel’s body fills my scope. As my quarry maneuvers throughout the branches, I adjust accordingly. Finally, the perfect shot presents itself. I calm my breathing and squeeze the trigger so lightly that it surprises me when it goes off. Tonight, I will be eating some of the finest meat around.
Squirrel hunting is one of the top combinations of relaxation, thrill, and adventure that I can think of and I can’t figure out why more people aren’t into it. I almost feel sorry for someone who has never had the chance to participate in the experience.
3. The Lessons Learned
Life is full of lessons and squirrel hunting is no exception. No matter if you’re an experienced squirrel hunter or the new hunter who just purchased their first rimfire rifle, there are lessons to be learned each and every time you enter the forest.
Not only do you learn how to effectively hunt the elusive squirrel as you become more experienced, but you also learn many other lessons that can be applied to your everyday life. A huge lesson I have personally learned from squirrel hunting is patience. It has taught me that goals don’t come easy and you sometimes have to tough it out if you want to be successful.
Everyone who squirrel hunts will learn many of the same lessons, but it will also vary between hunters. I wish everyone knew that squirrel hunting isn’t just about killing squirrels, but about the lessons we learn while hunting them.
4. Meat Quality
Something I often ponder is why people are so against eating squirrels. Why is it that almost anyone will go to their favorite local restaurant and order chicken nuggets off the menu, but if you so daringly mention inviting them over for a fresh meal of crispy fried squirrel, they think up every excuse in the book to get out of it?
Squirrel meat (when properly prepared) can be some of the best eating a person can get! It is so good that I am confident a majority of people would choose it over their normal selection of store bought meat in a blind taste test. It’s truly phenomenal.
One of the most common ways of cooking squirrel is the good old-fashioned frying method. A few simple ingredients of salt, pepper, flour, and hot oil and the squirrel meat is golden. Another great way to prepare this “chicken of the trees” is to soak the meat in Italian dressing for 24-72 hours, which produces a more tender product. After the soaking period, simply drizzle olive oil over the top, add a little salt and pepper, and bake it for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees. You’ll thank me later.
There is nothing more satisfying than harvesting your own wild game, cleaning it, and then cooking up a hearty meal for your friends and family. It’s wild, it’s organic, and it isn’t full of other junk.
Try It Out
My advice to anyone interested in squirrel hunting is to just get out there and do it! Research and read as much information as you can absorb and then test your knowledge while out in the field. Every hunt is different and some may seem better than others. But if you stick with it, you will surely be satisfied. Sometimes I wish everyone could see what I see while out squirrel hunting. It’s breathtaking.
For more articles by Adam, check out his website.