|Phil and his .17 caliber.|
This week, after work, I was lucky enough to get out squirrel hunting on Tuesday & Wednesday evening. Both hunts were at the Patuxent River State Park. I went alone the first night, and was joined by my buddy Phil on the second night. I work with Phil; he’s an avid hunter and all-around good guy. He kept an eye out for me, and grabbed up a decent .50 caliber muzzle loader for me to hunt deer with this season (Stay tuned). At any rate, large plots of tall, old hickory trees make Patuxent Park an ideal habitat for grey squirrels. Both evenings I entered the woods around 4:30pm which is just about feeding time. Grey squirrels are active feeders around mid-morning and in the evening. If you keep your eyes and ears open, and know what to look & listen for, you stand a good chance of honing in on their location. There are still a lot of leaves on the trees which works both with, and against you. The leaves provide good coverage for the squirrels to hide behind but they also act as giant flags for activity. In the treetops, the squirrels feed on the hickory nuts, leaping to and climbing out on to the smaller limbs, which dip and shake under the weight of their bodies. You can usually see and hear this activity pretty easily. Another good thing about the leaves is that, when the squirrels perch on a branch and “cut” their nuts (chew the exterior shell away), they drop the shavings down below. You can zero in on their location by listening to the shavings drop down through the leaves. This week, at times, there was so much feeding activity that it sounded as if it were raining. Sometimes if you’re “a bit early for supper” and the squirrels aren’t out feeding yet, you can coax a few squirrels in by rubbing two quarters together. This has worked well for me in the past. The serrated edges of the coins mimic the cutting noise made when squirrels work the shell off of nuts. You want to hold one quarter firmly and drag the edge of the other quarter over its serrations, as if you’re playing a washboard. A lot of times squirrels will come to see who is eating nuts in their area. Tuesday night I sat and watched as many as eight squirrels crawl around in the upper branches cutting nuts, barking, and leaping from limb to limb. The difficult part is keeping an eye on them and waiting for them to pass by an open area, where you can send a bullet to meet them.
Tuesday night: 1 squirrel for the deep fryer.
Wednesday night: 2 squirrels for the deep fryer.
Above: Tuesday night I used my Marlin XT17 (left) and Wednesday I used my Rock Island Armory Mig 22(right).