Getting out and chasing some small game is really what got me into hunting quite a few years ago. Sure, getting the chance to go out with my Uncle for deer shotgun when I was in high school was a huge deal too, but chasing squirrels, rabbits, and doves was the entrance into all the other critters that I chase now. It's so simple to do, you don't need to spend gazillions on gear, decoys, calls, special clothes, etc., all you need is a gun and a hunting license. Yet for some reason, I haven't chased the small stuff, the fun stuff, in the past couple of years.
This season, I wanted to make it a goal to get after some squirrels at least once if not more, and to take Caleb along with me for the experience. He's been chomping at the bit to get out there too since we bought him his first set of camo coveralls! So, with the winter break coming to a close, and the last day of the year upon us, we ventured out in the afternoon for a few hours in the woods. Snacks, drinks, camera, ammo, and a gun. What else do you need? Oh yeah, the squirrel call. Don't forget the squirrel call.
On the drive up to the spot we went over the rules. We have 3 short and simple rules that the kids have to know when they're going to go shooting, hunting, or scouting with Dad. By now, Caleb can recite them with no problem, Ainsley is still learning them but she won't take too long. Rule #1 - Safety first, rule #2 - Listen to Dad, rule #3 - Have fun. Pretty simple stuff, but we refer to our rules constantly when we're engaged in enjoying the outdoors.
Walking through the woods I had to remind Caleb that he had to be quiet. The boy is always talking and asking questions, which is a good thing, but I think that the excitement of today's outing had a direct contribution to the speed, volume, and frequency of his talking. Let's just say it was a bit elevated compared to the norm. After a while, we started spotting some of the squirrel nests I knew were in the area, so we found a good tree, plopped down, and had a snack.
It was from this spot that we saw our only squirrel of the day. It was nice sized fox squirrel that barked back at us when Caleb worked on the squirrel call (that I kept hidden in my pocket during the ride to the woods for obvious reasons. Let's just say a 5 year old, with a squirrel call, inside a truck is not a good idea). Caleb followed the sound and quickly spotted the bushy tail flickering back & forth on the branch he was perched on across the creek.
After some deliberation, and long range observation through the binoculars we determined to try and take a shot. I swiveled around, waiting for the squirrel to move to a point in which the tree would be positioned as a backstop for the shot. When it was, I clicked off the safety, made sure Caleb was ready, and put pressure on the trigger. Crack! A clean miss, and a squirrel jumping through the tree tops wondering what the hell was that!!! After the shot, we went over for some further inspection, determined that Dad missed, and Caleb got to laugh at me. I did too.
We continued on for a while, just hiking through the woods really. Looking up towards the treetops at the squirrels nests, pointing out each pile of deer poop along the way, following a rub line laid down by a buck sometime this past fall, crossing the creek needlessly just because we were wearing rubber boots, and even finding a little garder snake that must have crawled out of it's winter hole to catch some of the sunshine the day had to offer. As we drove back home for dinner our talks continued on as they did all afternoon, and we both wore smiles, probably from the simple fun that a mere walk in the woods can provide.