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Wisdom from the WOODS-Squirrel Season

Jun 20, 2015

One of my favorite hunting seasons is about to begin. When the squirrels begin to feed on hickory nuts and acorns, I love to go and bag a few for the frying pan. With my legs like they are from years of hunting, I do not walk too much as it is too easy for me to go down and a lot harder to get up.

There have been a lot of stories that I have heard and participated in regarding squirrel hunting. Probably the best one was from Missouri Conservation Commission Agent Chet Barnes. He was one of the best and most fair game wardens (now they prefer to be known as Conservation Commission agents) that I have ever known and that number is quite large.

Chet’s incident happened on Coon Island when he was checking a camp full of hunters from the Bootheel area. They had a big pot of squirrels frying and another pile ready for the skillet. Chet said that he got a fork from their table and started moving the squirrel pieces around in the grease. They asked him what he was doing and he told them he was counting legs. He said four squirrel legs equal one squirrel and it looked like they were over their limit.

One young fellow in the group who didn’t realize what he was doing, blurted out “Those are just the young ones. The old ones are in a pile behind that log.” Chet laughed when he told me about this and said that they had way over the limit and the entire camp was fined.

I worked with a guy one year when there was an abundance of squirrels and he told me that “they” bagged over 80 on a trip to the Ellington area one weekend and the next weekend they hunted the same area and the squirrels had migrated out. He didn’t consider that they had thinned them out of the area and didn’t leave many for seed.

The squirrel population has not been too good around our part of the country the past few years and usually if I find very many, I quit at four. That is enough for a couple of meals at our house and if there are a lot of them around, I can put a bag in the freezer for a cold day in the winter.

Since the commission figured the population was big enough to liberalize the daily limit to ten squirrels, I have not even gotten more than four in one hunt.

One of my favorite hunting places where I hunted quite a bit while a lot younger was the Mud Creek bottoms along the St. Francis River east of Rombauer. One year, my brother, dad, and I totaled around 300 squirrels during the year. They were plentiful and a lot of times I went after work, getting off at 3pm and getting a limit of six before dark. Those days are history.

My words of wisdom to close with are these:
Copperheads and ticks are plentiful so be careful when you are outdoors.