MIKE GILES: Young Squirrel Season Begins Saturday | Outdoor

Like most country boys, I trained in squirrel hunting with my father and grandfather and learned the ways of the forest.

After one particular hunting trip, I had no luck even finding a squirrel to shoot. Dad told me that if he didn’t get a squirrel he would take me to a special place.

Turns out she needed a little help and that’s just what Dad had in mind. Our last stop on the hunt near Daleville was the grove area near the Sam Dale Monument. There were no monuments then, just a few hundred-year-old oak trees stretching between the Baptist and Methodist churches.

As we crawled along in the last light, I saw a tree with a squirrel in it. I took out a fine pearl and squeezed the tigger.

“Boom!” roared the single-barreled .410 Stevens as the squirrel took off. I reloaded and kept shooting while missing again and again with a group of squirrels flying through the treetops like little gymnasts. I think I must have fired about 6 times before I finally connected and knocked my first squirrel out of the tree. I was ecstatic and it was the first hit I tried and it propelled me outdoors that would eventually take me around the country fishing, hunting and exploring the country.

Later, on another memorable trip, Dad led me along a small creek where two large water oak trees stood about 20 yards apart on the banks of the creek. As he walked away and disappeared into the woods, I wondered why he had left me here alone. However, I didn’t have much time to reflect on my situation, as I spotted a squirrel in the treetops quite a distance away.

As I continued to watch the squirrel, it kept coming in my direction almost as if it was being pulled by some invisible magnetic force. Within minutes, the squirrel appeared at the top of the great oak tree. Pulling a fine pearl on her head, I slowly squeezed the trigger of my .22 Remington rifle.

Crack pow! My first squirrel fell about 40 feet and was dead before impact. Before I could get up to retrieve the squirrel, I stopped when I saw another squirrel moving in my direction.

After settling in and getting comfortable, I quickly and quietly dispatched one squirrel after another until I reached my limit of eight squirrels without moving again. It all makes sense to me now, although I had no idea something like this was possible at the time. Those two oaks were “food trees” and produced abundant acorns. Dad and all the squirrels in the woods knew it too. Dad had learned about food trees through the valuable experience of time in the woods.

There is no time like the present and many young hunters will have the opportunity to hunt a squirrel for the first time between September 24 and 30, if they have a parent, adult or mentor to take them.

There’s just nothing like being able to go into the woods as a kid and learn how to be quiet, when to move and when to shoot. Squirrel hunting gives kids the opportunity to learn the ways of the forest and meet some of the animals and hopefully be successful in catching some of those young squirrels.

Many successful deer hunters started out squirrel hunting, and were taught well. I learned from my father and Paw paw as they taught me the ways of the forest, how to hunt squirrels, what they sounded like, and how to summon one.

Yes, I learned to bark like a squirrel and believe me, the other squirrels will respond to you and reveal your location. Sometimes you can sneak up on them silently and headshot them with a .22 rifle, or even a shotgun.

Paul Meek and Jeffrey Wood make excellent squirrel calls and can give you some instructions on how to use them if you call or visit. In addition to the exciting action a child can have during a hunt, squirrels make great table food if he knows how to tenderize and cook them properly.

There’s nothing better than southern fried squirrel, squirrel sauce, and crackers. If you don’t have a child or grandchild, you may be able to find a young person in your neighborhood to become a mentor and change their lives forever. Carpe Diem!

Call Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or email mikegiles18@comast.net.