Helping Youngsters Learn to Hunt Squirrels!

From personal experience, I know that squirrels come from far and wide to hang their “Home, Sweet Home” sign in trees with nuts.

When Hurricane Ike blew through here last September,j0236412 MDH’s* pecan crop lay littered over the ground. Would the squirrels eat them?

Nope, they wanted fresh ones – and stripped the trees of the remaining pecans.

In Some States: Squirrels = Varmints

I think we are sending a confused message about these rodents. Where we live, squirrels can be shot year round. However, in Houston (a mere 35 miles away), squirrels are protected!

If you are trying to help a youngster get started hunting, squirrels might be just the right target. The skills a young person develops hunting these creatures carries over to larger game.

For example, squirrels are wary and have sharp ears and eyes. Learning to travel in the woods, searching for these tree rats is great training for hunting wild turkeys, etc.

63 Species – From 2 Ozs. to 20 Lbs.

There are an incredible 63 species in this group, from mini-chipmunks to huge marmots (up to 20 lbs.). Today and tomorrow, I’ll offer info about some of the most common tree squirrels, what they eat, etc.; then come back and discuss hunting methods with kids.

Gray Squirrels

Probably the most common ‘shade tail’ in America, they live wherever nuts are grown.  Grays also love corn and can decimate cornfields throughout the growing season!

Everyone knows the ‘old wives’ tale’ that squirrels remember where they bury their nuts. Not so, say biologists. Instead, they use their incredible sense of smell to find them when food is scarce.

Where winters are harsh, grays move into holes (created by disease or woodpeckers). When the weather warms, they tend to build nests in the crooks/forks of  limbs.

When there is enough food, grays prefer to eat in early am and late afternoon. In times of  want, they must feed all day to get enough. What is less known is that these animals like to feed on tree buds in the moonlight (during the spring season).

Grays range over the largest area – Manitoba, all of the eastern states, Iowa, and eastern North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

They also live in the widest range of habitats: swamps, hardwood forests, piney woods,  and cleared areas with thin tree stands along rivers, thickets and urban areas.

Next: Other tree squirrels: fox squirrels, Abert’s squirrels, red squirrel and the northern and southern flying squirrels.

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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Part 2: Varmints with Bushy Tails!

 

A Rodent by Any Other Name ....

A Rodent by Any Other Name ....

 

The squirrels that reside on our property seem to know a ‘new math.’ Every time one of these tree rats bites the dust, two more seem to arrive to join the game!

I hate to admit it but we seem to be losing the race to control our pecan trees & yard.  Most of the time, the squirrels run around our yard in fearless glee!

I’m afraid they’ve found out about the “gutless wonder” that resides within.  It’s so unfair….

Richard and the Pellet Gun

As an excellent shot, Richard goes out (when the dogs signal) and helps the squirrels to “a better place.”

However, from late September to early March, Richard is running marathons around the state of Texas.  That means that he is not assisting the dogs to thin out the rodent ranks in our yard.

The dogs get so caught up in their chase that they call to me (in true desperation) — to hurry out with the pellet gun.

I have no problem bringing out the gun, I just have a problem loading and shooting it!

Our ‘Gutless Wonder’ with the Pellet Gun

One day, I was so tired of hearing  the 3 dogs bark, bark, barking for the pellet gun that I went outside with pellets and gun – in tow. After several minutes of trying to figure out why the pellet wouldn’t fit into the proper place, I called Richard at work.

He groaned.  A lot.  After giving me minute directions, that didn’t seem to make sense, MDH*suggested I wait till he got home. I told him I’d happily wait but I didn’t think the squirrel would (wait around).  I was right!

The good news is that I finally wedged the pellet in the gun. The bad news is that was not in the right place and it took MDH about 20 minutes to extract the pellet from the unfortunate spot where I’d placed it.

Through no fault of mine, the gun still works.

The other half of the problem is that the gun has to be pumped – a lot. Actually, I think someone wanting to develop their biceps would be wise to take up pumping one of these things.

I can do the first one. Period. I really struggle with the second one.

But you know what really hurts?  The squirrel I want to shoot stops and watches me. I think he’s laughing!

* MDH = My Dear Husband

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm  Comments (1)  
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Varmints with Bushy Tails You Can Shoot!

 

toobigforhermouth

Texas Greedy Gut!

 

It’s always “open season” for squirrels on our property. It’s fortunate that the state of Texas concurs – since that is where we live.

Forty years ago, when we moved to this house and property, MDH* decided to create a pecan forest.  During the bone-chilling times and the sweltering summers, Richard was out nurturing, grafting and pruning his baby trees.

Where Do Squirrels Come From?

We live on the coastal plain close to Galveston; squirrels were  missing from our environment — in the early days. Salt, sand and clay soils were hardly what these varmints want when scoping out new digs.

Richard will tell you that “tree rats” come from hell. Once his trees started to develop pecans, 24-hour-eating-machines took up residence in Richard’s pecan orchard.

Your Eyes Do Not See

I know, you’re looking at that cute chipmunk/squirrel/tree rat above and have decided that we are greedy monsters, unwilling to share our bounty with these little frisky imps.

Hah! These little vultures try to eat their weight in Richard’s pecans.  They do not understand the concept of “portion control.” The photo above proves my point!

Tree Rats vs. The Dogs

Squirrels were moving into our trees at such a rapid rate that MDH decided serious action was needed.  He called our three dogs (a Lab, a Chow and a Basset Hound) and promised a yummy meal for each squirrel they escorted to the next life.

The race was on! The squirrels started eating more nuts to keep up their strength to evade the dogs below. As the trees grew to full size, the tree rats started showing our dogs what great tree jumpers and gliders they could be!

True to his promise, Richard pulled out his pellet gun, after the dogs treed one of the fluffy tails, and helped the varmint to an early grave.

Everyone seemed happy … and then ….

Hurricane Ike

Last September 13, the hurricane came across our property and tore out the tops and centers of the pecan trees. In spite of the devastation, there was a silver lining — there was no longer a full canopy overhead!

Squirrels got the shock of their lives when they started to fly across to the next tree — and the branches were gone!

Unfortunately, they quickly adjusted to the new reality!

*  MDH = My Deer Husband

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on March 17, 2009 at 7:15 pm  Comments (3)  
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