SNYDER: Squirrel-hunting challenge to bond father, son
- Squirrels can often be heard before they are seen.
- Squirrels are some of the most active critters in the woods.
- Squirrel hunting can be challenging and rewarding.
I can’t wait to take my young son squirrel hunting.
With any luck, he’ll finally join me in the woods this year. We’ll aim for the same prey that lured me into a lifelong passion for the outdoors.
The high-flying critters can be heard long before they're seen. The commotion they stir as they jump from tree to tree is enough to awaken an entire forest. Squirrels are some of the most active animals in the woods and are also one of the most fun to hunt.
While deer are often viewed as the most challenging of prey, bagging a squirrel is no easy task, with the way they soar from branch to branch; the way they spiral up a tree trunk; and the way they can lay on a branch and not be spotted, no matter how hard you look.
All of those characteristics combine to make squirrel hunting immensely challenging and rewarding.
Most of the time, when I head to the woods in search of bushy tails, I leave the scatter gun at home. My favorite squirrel-hunting gun is a generations-old single-shot .22 with open sights. When I'm walking through woods, stalking the tops of the trees, holding the same gun my grandfather used decades before, I get a sense of nostalgia unlike no other.
When hunting for squirrels, the world is still primitive. The pressure to bag a trophy is nonexistent. I don't have to fret about my scent tipping off a wary critter a hundred yards downwind. My only worry is when the sun will go down and the fun will end. It's only me, the squirrels and the generations of hunters who have walked the same ground.
I’m anxious to bring my son into the woods this year because squirrel hunting is best accomplished with at least two hunters. Squirrels have an amazing ability to crawl to the backside of a tree and never be seen again. That is unless you have a partner to walk around the tree and flush the squirrel back into view.
While most hunters have their go-to method of bagging a few bushy tails, there are plenty of ways to have a successful day.
Many hunters like to sit and wait for the squirrels to come to them. It is a great tactic. Some diehards even use calls to lure distant squirrels to their stand. I've seen enough squirrels while eating an orange at the base of a tree to know the method works quite well. I'm just not much of a sitter.
I enjoy the challenge of spotting movement hundreds of yards in front of me, slowly stalking the creator of the ruckus and lining up the prey in the old, gray sights of my rifle. It’s just as my father did decades ago, and the same as his father did decades before him.
Sometimes I miss, sometimes I get lucky, but I always feel successful. The chance to head into the woods in search of speedy and elusive squirrels is an opportunity that no hunter should pass up.
I’m excited to share it with my son.
Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.