The ravages of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic seem endless. I’m sure all my brothers and sisters in camo are just as tired of all this as I am. In addition to all the missed events like family gatherings and many other social events, if we are being honest, it has also taken away our efforts outdoors.
Remote hunting or fishing trips have certainly been curtailed, and related events like the SHOT Show, the NRA convention, and the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention & Sport Show have been canceled, postponed, or moved to virtual status for the time being. because of the nasty little bug from China.
One of the events I look forward to each year is the Squirrel Master Classic, held at the Southern Sportsman’s Hunting Lodge in Alabama. Sponsored by the Gamo airgun company, this event attracts outdoor personalities, industry writers and editors, 4-H shooters and squirrel-dog handlers from across the country. The event is the brainchild of Buckmasters founder Jackie Bushman and was his brainchild on how to solve the dilemma of declining hunter numbers and raise awareness of the value of small game.
Mr. Bushman looked at the problem this way: How do we get more new hunters, young and old, into hunting? What kind of game has easy access, lots of opportunities for success, and doesn’t require a lot of fancy gear? Squirrel hunt! Many of us grew up with it and learned to hunt that way.
Now, how to hold an event and draw attention to this type of hunting? The Squirrel Master Classic was born, Bushman joined this idea with Gamo and the rest is history.
The basic exercise for the Squirrel Master Classic is this: Go on a squirrel hunt in a fun competitive environment. The teams are made up of outdoor TV personalities, outdoor writers and editors, a dog handler with a squirrel dog to find them the game, and most important of all, a 4-H youth, who It has a very extensive shooting program. . Youth can learn and compete in several different categories of shooting sports, including airgun and pistol, .22 rifle and pistol, shotgun, recurve and compound archery, muzzleloaders, and hunting skills. 4-H shooters in the Montgomery area get the added benefit of the opportunity to participate in the Squirrel Master Classic.
Gamo sponsors the event and provides all hunters with a Gamo Swarm Maxxim shotgun. The Swarm Maxxim (now in a Gen2 version) is the world’s only 10-shot air rifle. The 10X Quick Shot magazine allows the shooter to load 10 pellets into the magazine, insert it into the rifle and fire 10 quick shots before reloading is required. Trust me, you need that quick second and third shot on this hunt because these squirrels have their running shoes on. Once they start scampering through the treetops, sometimes making spectacular leaps from tree to tree, you have to be quick or you’ll end up empty handed.
The Gamo Swarm Maxxim is capable of a pellet velocity of 1,300 feet per second thanks to the new IGT Mach 1 technology. In short, Gamo put a large cylinder of inert gas into this airgun to deliver incredible speed and power. unprecedented in a manually operated air rifle.
As for the Southern Sportsman’s Hunting Lodge, it’s a hunter’s lodge in Alabama’s famed Black Belt region. I’m pretty sure if you look for southern hospitality at Webster’s, you’ll see a picture of this lodge with a rich 35-year history of hosting deer and turkey hunters and now squirrel hunters. The walls of the lodge are adorned with rows of photographs of hunters, outdoorsmen, writers, athletes and artists who have stayed here. (And the ladies in the kitchen make the best barbecue this side of Memphis.)
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, squirrel hunting is a lot of fun. These small tree rodents are found in most states in the nation and are often abundant on public land. You don’t need a bunch of fancy gear and expensive leases to get you up and running with the squirrels. Another bonus here is that squirrel hunting will get you into the woods and you can do a lot of exploring for those big bucks next deer season. The woods are bare right now, so scuffs, scratches, and deer trails will be obvious to you. You can also look for molted antlers while chasing those bushy tails!
Grab your GAMO airgun (or your second best squirrel gun!), take a youngster with you, and see what the February squirrel woods in your area have to offer. Post your photos to your social media channels with the following hash tags for identification and join the fun: #Gamo, #Gamooutdoorusa, #Gamoswarm, #Gogamo, #huntsquirrels, #Squirrelmasterclassic, and #Swarmnation.
You can also check out GAMO’s posts on Facebook and Instagram to see how your favorite TV show hosts are doing with their squirrel hunts. Virtual Squirrel Master Classic 2021 teams include Bone Collector, Buck Commander, Buckmasters, Raised Hunting, Realtree, and “The Choice” with Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo.
The traditional in-person Squirrel Master Classic is canceled this year, but that’s not stopping us from going to the squirrel forest. Grab the Gamo Air Rifle, find some sheds, and hunt for your money this fall.
The COVID-19 bug cannot take that away from us.
“The Trail Less Traveled” is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at [email protected].