It’s Raining Squirrels

February 8th, 2018

I’ll Teach You to Eat my Acorns

Success at last. I bagged a squirrel this morning.

I got the idea that late afternoon was not the best time to shoot squirrels, so I went out a few minutes after 7 a.m. Squirrel activity was considerably higher. In an hour and a half of walking, I saw maybe half a dozen squirrels, stalked about 4, shot at 2, and nailed 1.

The squirrel I shot was maybe 50 feet up in an oak tree. That’s where he was when I shot him, I mean. Prior to that, he was moving around from tree to tree, in the canopy. I tried to shoot him in the head, but from the looks of things, the bullet went in the upper rib cage on one side and out the other shoulder. The exit would was ragged. It was pretty exciting to watch him drop. It was my first shot of the day. First shot of the season, for that matter.

He gasped once or twice on the ground, but I didn’t have to shoot him again.

After that, I stalked other squirrels. I learned a few things.

I don’t think squirrels get spooked by human beings or guns. Not to the point where you can’t kill them. In fact, they don’t seem very bright. I nearly got a couple of other squirrels very close to the one I shot, within a few minutes of shooting him. They didn’t seem concerned at all.

I also learned that squirrels drink coffee. I can tell because they don’t seem to be on top of things right after sunup. They wander around up there, looking for the Keurig, and while they’re still waking up, they’re easier to kill.

My ideas about weaponry are changing. The .17 HMR is great, but it cost me some shots. I was only willing to shoot pretty much straight up, to prevent misses from sailing horizontally into other people’s houses and cars. That meant I had to get very close to the squirrels. Had I been able to shoot from farther away, I would have more than 1 squirrel brining in the fridge right now.

I like electronic hearing protectors. I bought my dad some Peltors a long time ago, and he can’t use them now, so I took them with me. You can turn them up so your hearing is better than normal. It helps you hear squirrels. Nice.

I had to say it, but the shotgun is a better tool then the .17 HMR right now. I can shoot horizontally with it, and I’m more likely to hit squirrels because of the wide pattern. An air rifle would also be nice, because I could shoot horizontally, from farther away, but I’m not sure it’s humane, because I would be more likely to wound squirrels without killing them right away.

I nearly nailed a second squirrel today. I took a shot at him, and it stunned him. I guess I “barked” him, which means shooting near a squirrel and dazing him. You can shoot a tree beside a squirrel and knock him down, unconscious. This squirrel reacted by running around the trunk in circles and then climbing down to stare at me. He perched about 10 feet from me, staring at me. I don’t think he knew what was going on. I had only brought 5 rounds with me, and I barked him with number 5, so all I could do was stare back. I was afraid he had been wounded, but he looked fine. Maybe he’ll drop dead from a concussion later.

I sighted the .17 in from too far away. I think I’m shooting a little high. I had assumed there was no real drop at 60 yards (my zeroing distance), but I’ll bet I’m wrong, because I missed 4 times today.

Cleaning the squirrel was not pleasant. I’ve torn a million fish apart, and it never bothered me, but cutting up cute, warm-blooded animals is a little gross.

I didn’t want to hack his head off with a pocket knife. I thought about it for a few minutes, and then I saw the pruning shears. Perfect.

I tried poultry shears on his legs and tail. Worked okay, but the pruning shears put them to shame.

I really did not want to gook up a pocket knife. They’re hard to clean. I found a Forschner filet knife in the kitchen. Of course, other people had abused it since I had last sharpened it, so I had to spend a long time fixing it with diamond hones. When I finally got it working, it worked just fine.

It seems like squirrels are very tough around the collar line. I had to cut some crap away in order to free the skin. I slit him down the belly, which was a bit nasty, and then I peeled his skin off him like a jumpsuit. His man bits went with the skin, so I didn’t have to yank them off with my bare fingers. I was not looking forward to that. His guts and other organs went down the disposal, and after that, I cut his anus out with the filet knife. I washed him down and stuck him in a lidded container full of brine, and now he resides in the fridge.

I would say I got something equivalent to one large chicken breast. I think it will be worth eating. I may go out in a few minutes and see what the shotgun produces. It’s foggy today, so I don’t think squirrels will be hiding from the heat. In fact, I know they aren’t. I went to McDonald’s for breakfast, and coming up the driveway to the house, I saw EIGHT EIGHT EIGHT squirrels. Makes me so mad.

My hands smell like dead squirrel, even after washing them and having two McMuffins. Guess I’m stuck with that.

This has been a great experience. Standing around failing to shoot animals is not that rewarding, but when you kill one and butcher it, it makes you feel close to nature. Many times, I’ve seen people write, or heard them say, that hunting made them feel like they were one with nature. I never experienced that until today. I figured it was hogwash, but it’s true.

I like animals, and it’s impossible to feel completely comfortable, blasting cute creatures with hot lead, but killing is part of life. It’s something a man needs to confront and deal with. A man should hunt and fish, if he has the opportunity. You have to confront the ugly parts of life in order to understand it. You can’t cower in the house and whimper like a woman in a Bambi T-shirt all the time. That’s not love or humanity. It’s shirking. You don’t want to admit you’re part of the cycle of life and death, so you sit back and criticize people who man up and accept their responsibility. Meanwhile you wear leather and eat fried chicken, as if they grew on trees.

Farm animals have it harder than hunted animals. A hunted animal does what it pleases for most of its life, and then it feels something briefly and expires quickly. Farm animals have tags shoved through their ears. Chickens have their beaks cut off with shears. Cattle get dehorned and castrated. Pigs get castrated while screaming their lungs out. Farmhands routinely beat animals with sticks while herding them. Slaughterhouses are only as humane as the law can make them. I don’t have much patience for self-righteous people who complain about hunting, and people who criticize fishing are just plain insane. Fish are so insensitive they will continue to try to feed after you cut them in half.

People should also think about the consequences of not hunting. Prey and nuisance animals overpopulate and starve. They destroy crops. They invade attics and do all sorts of damage. They kill pets. Right now, southern states are being torn up by wild hogs that reproduce at a phenomenal rate. They need to die, plain and simple, and hunting is one of the best ways to get it done.

I feel surprisingly good about hunting tiny ratlike animals. Think about it. Any idiot can shoot a deer, which is as big as a house. A squirrel is very small, and it moves around constantly. If I can learn to shoot squirrels, deer and hogs will be cake. How can you miss something that has a kill zone a foot across? Maybe I’m wrong, but to me, killing squirrels is much more impressive.

On the walk back, I found something disturbing. I planted some blackberries recently, and I found one of the plants sitting beside a neat little hole containing a huge…turd. There is no other word for it. Some filthy animal carefully moved my plant and moved its own project into the hole. I can’t figure that out.

Because of the size, I can’t believe this is a coon turd. I’ve seen those, and they’re about like poodle poo. Coyote, maybe? I think I need to get me a blind and put some meat out for bait.

Why on earth would it dig up my blackberry? Can’t figure that out.

I’m going to see if I can produce a meal instead of an hors d’ouevre. I’m going to get out my grandpa’s Sweet Sixteen. Wish me luck.

6 Responses to “It’s Raining Squirrels”

  1. Ruth H Says:

    Re: I’ll Teach You to Eat my Acorns

    ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’
    Those squirrels could be doing you a favor. Unintended consequences could be oak trees out the wahzoo.

    On the other hand you probably can’t make a real dent in the squirrel population or the oak tree population.
    There’s that.

  2. Ron Says:

    Steve,
    If you want more squirrels without endangering your neighbors find a .177 air rifle, something in the 900 fps range. Find a comfortable spot where you can sit down and watch the squirrels move. When you shot and a squirrel falls, don’t go pick it up. Wait quietly, you’ll soon have a shot at another squirrel. The .177 air rifles are very accurate, can accept a scope and not very expensive.

    Good hunting!
    Ron

  3. Mike Says:

    I was taught to skin squirrels by making a small cut horizontal between the anus and tail then work your fingers under the skin and pull up while standing on the tail. Works better with young ones. The old codgers were tougher, I’d make a cut in the middle of the back then pull apart. Its a messy job either way. I also wear gloves now when hacking up natures bounty, I hear there are diseases that you can catch cleaning wild game. Deer killed during the first few weeks of the season here carry all kinds of vermin like ticks etc. I don’t care for cleaning one when its warm so I wait until cooler weather to take one.
    And you are correct, killing deer is almost something you have to actively avoid here. They are stupid, especially when the mating season is on plus they don’t live long enough to learn vehicles will smash and kill them.
    Go get’em!

  4. Steve H. Says:

    “When you shot and a squirrel falls, don’t go pick it up. Wait quietly, you’ll soon have a shot at another squirrel. ”

    I never heard that before. Today when I shot my squirrel, I left it on the woods floor while I looked around, and that’s when I saw the others.

  5. Thomas Doan Says:

    It is a matriarchal society that reaches an equilibrium in your area based on food for a certain number. Killing them creates a vacuum that will constantly fill in so get a several air guns and practice your recipes.

  6. Chris Says:

    Ron has a good point about using a bb gun–they’re a very cost-effective way to get rid of pests, especially the smaller ones like squirrels and rats.

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