BLAINE COUNTY, Okla. (TNN) – Oklahoma has one of the longest squirrel seasons in the country, lasting from May to January.
It’s the longest hunting season in the state overall.
And while it’s more of an outdoor hobby these days, 7 News Anchor Makenzie Burk found one of the few remaining squirrel hunters in northwest Oklahoma.
He’s got more on his latest outdoor adventure.
Squirrel hunting is more common in eastern Oklahoma because of the wood, but Chris Ross and his dog Jet are doing their best to keep this dying art alive.
“I’ve been doing it for six years with the dog, but pretty much my whole life,” Ross said.
His dog, Jet, is a trained squirrel fighter.
“They are the smallest dogs, only about 20 pounds,” Ross said. “And they do their job, you know. They just keep track of the squirrels and then catch them. They use all of their senses… sight, hearing, smell, so they’re good at tracking.”
Ross says that he trains them when they are puppies using squirrel tails.
“They become familiar with the smell,” Ross said. “After that it’s just taking it into the woods and really walking. I mean a lot of time and effort put into it.”
Once Jet was looking for a squirrel, the hard part starts trying to find it. With squirrel hunting, you spend a lot of time looking up.
Ross loves it because it’s something the whole family can do. And it’s a great opportunity to teach kids about gun safety.
“Get the kids out and they can be loud, they don’t have to be quiet, you know,” Ross said. “And they can chase their dog or someone else’s dog that you know, and they really enjoy it and they can shoot the .22 or .410 and not have a problem.”
Although the limit per person is 25, Ross says that 10 to 12 is enough for him and his family to eat.
“Oh yeah, they are really tasty, everyone tries to say that everything tastes like chicken. I mean it tastes like squirrel,” Ross said. “It’s similar to chicken, you can do the same recipes or something like that. So there are Jamaican chicken recipes, chicken wing recipes, I mean, there are a lot of things. Or you can cook them and make them into jambalaya, gumbo, anything like that. I mean, like I said, I’ve been eating it my whole life, so it’s good meat.”
For those who want to get started in squirrel hunting, there are several Facebook groups for Oklahoma squirrel hunters. Even though very few people do, he says there are still plenty of people who would be willing to bring someone new with them.
“I promise you, they’ll get you out,” Ross said. “They just want people to enjoy their dogs. They do a lot of training and spend a lot of time with them, you know. We spend a lot of time with our dogs, so it means a lot to us when they go out and can make people happy.”
He hopes more people will take up the hobby, because it’s a tradition he says is worth passing on.
“Enjoy the outdoors,” Ross said. “I mean I really enjoy it. I’m glad my dad took me out to do this kind of stuff, and I can pass it on to my kids, and my kids enjoy it too.”
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