From oak tree to table, there’s no better way to enjoy hunting
The sweet aroma of white oak leaves and acorns permeated the air and awakened my senses to the wonderful sights, sounds and smells of the Mississippi outdoors one brisk fall morning many years ago. My dad, Jack Giles, had taken me squirrel hunting near Daleville where I first encountered the white oak trees with their bountiful acorns.
The sweet, pungent smell brings back wonderful memories even today. As a youngster, I had no way of knowing that the squirrels preferred the smaller water oak acorns, while deer preferred the larger white oak acorns.
But Dad had another destination in mind that morning, as he quickly led me beside two large water oak trees positioned some 20 yards apart on the banks of a small stream. As he walked off into the distance and disappeared into the woods, I wondered why he had left me there by myself. I didn’t have long to ponder my situation though, as I detected a squirrel in the treetops quite a distance away.
As I continued watching the squirrel, he kept coming in my direction almost as if being pulled by an unseen, magnetic force. In minutes, the squirrel appeared overhead in the large oak tree. Pulling a fine bead on his head I slowly squeezed the trigger of my Remington .22 rifle.
My first squirrel
Crack-pow! My first squirrel fell some 40-feet down and was dead before impact. Before I could get up to retrieve the squirrel, I was stopped in my tracks as I spotted another squirrel moving in my direction.
After settling down and getting comfortable, I quickly and quietly dispatched one squirrel after another until I had my limit of eight squirrels without ever moving again.
Now it all makes sense to me, though I had no idea of anything like this being possible at the time. Those two oak trees were “feed trees” and were bearing acorns profusely. Dad and all of the squirrels in the woods knew this also. Dad had learned about the feed trees through valuable experience in the woods.
Getting their shot
There’s no time like the present and many young hunters will have an opportunity to get their first crack at a squirrel Sept. 24-30, if they have a parent, adult or mentor to take them. There’s just nothing like being able to get into the woods as a youngster and learn how to be quiet, when to move and when to shoot. Squirrel hunting gives kids an opportunity to learn the ways of the woods and get to know some of the animals and hopefully be successful at harvesting some of those young squirrels.
Many a successful deer hunter cut their teeth on squirrel hunting, and it taught them well.
I learned from my father and paw paw as they taught me the ways of the woods, how to hunt squirrels, what they sounded like and how to call up one. Yep, I learned how to bark like a squirrel and believe me the other squirrels will answer you and reveal your location. Sometimes you can slip up on them quietly and make a head shot with a .22 rifle, or even a shotgun.
In addition to the exciting action a kid can have during a hunt, squirrels make excellent table fare if you know how to tenderize them and cook them up right. There is nothing much better than southern fried squirrel, squirrel gravy and biscuits. If you don’t have a child or grandchild, then you just might find a youngster in your neighborhood to become a mentor and change their lives forever.