Grandpa Aschenbeck raised his right index finger to lips. I nodded. He then raised his left arm bent at the elbow, hand pointing skyward. With his right hand he made a circling motion around his left arm. As instructed I started circling the tree while he remained where he was, pointing his single-shot .22 rimfire rifle toward the tree top.
The squirrel, which had been hiding from us on the opposite side of the trunk, spotted me and started circling to keep the trunk between it and me. Immediately I heard the sharp crack of grandfather’s .22. The squirrel tumbled to the ground landing with thud. I ran to where it fell, picked it up by the tail, made certain it was dead, and then carried to my grandfather.
“Sair gute! Junga eicatza!” said he in German, dropping the plump young squirrel into the sack he carried that carried the other three we had taken earlier that morning. Four squirrels were what we needed for the fried squirrel and gravy supper my grandmother had planned that evening. We headed back home to skin and dress the squirrels.
During my early years growing up in Texas’ rural community of Zimmerscheidt, just above the Colorado River and the Gulf Coast Plains, squirrel hunting was not only a fun and educational past time, it was a necessity. Bagging squirrels meant meat for the table.
Fast forward many years from the time I roamed the creek bottoms and gravel hills alongside Cummins Creek with my granddad, and occasionally my dad, and a fair amount by myself hunting squirrels, to the planning stages of a squirrel hunt with Jeff Rice and Luke Clayton with whom I do our weekly video show, “A Sportsman’s Life” that airs on the Pride Outdoor Network. Luke and I also do a weekly radio show, as well as the weekly “Sporting Classics’ Campfire Talk with Larry Weishuhn and Luke Clayton” podcast available through Sporting Classics Daily, and the twice monthly “Hunting Wire Radio.” Jeff and Luke quite regularly “appear” on my personal weekly podcast, “DSC’s Untamed Heritage” which will soon be renamed “DSC’s CAMPFIRES with Larry Weishuhn.”
There was a time when squirrel hunting was huge, anticipated and celebrated the same as the beginning of deer season. Somewhere along the way, squirrel hunting seems to have lost some of its “shiny.” Hopefully moving into the future some of its “luster” will return.
Squirrels can be hunted in mostly every state; the larger fox squirrel and the somewhat smaller gray squirrel. Some States, such as Texas, have year-round squirrel seasons throughout much of the state. But Texas too, depending upon the region, has specific fall and spring seasons, as do many of our other states.
Before hunting squirrels ALWAYS check local and current state regulations!
One of several great things about squirrel hunting is that they can be hunted on a variety of public land, such as national and state forests, state-owned recreation lands, and of course private lands (with proper trespass permission). Even if hunted on private lands, squirrel hunting is extremely economical and often bag limits are quite liberal. Too, squirrels can be taken with a wide variety of firearms. The more popular caliber/rounds are .22 and .17 rimfire rounds in rifle and handguns, as well as .410 to 12-gauge shotguns. Squirrels do not require specialized firearms. But that is not to say one cannot, nor should not have a “designated squirrel rifle”!
My personal choice for squirrels is my Ruger 10-22, a remnant from when I was on staff with Shooting Times magazine as the Hunting Editor. I used that particular rifle in a 5,000-round “torture test.” Even after 5,000 rounds, the rifle shoots with pinpoint accuracy. My only changes to it since all that shooting is that I replaced the original scope with a Trijicon Huron 3-9X40, same scope I use on numerous of my big game hunting rifles.
Unfortunately, Hornady does not produce .22 rimfire ammo. Thus, I use a variety of other .22 Long Rifle rounds. My rifle is sighted in dead-on at 50 feet, the distance most squirrels even those high in trees, are shot. My Ruger 10-22 is quite forgiving when it comes to .22 Long Rifle ammo. It shoots most extremely accurately and essentially in the same place at 50 feet.
I will let you know how we do on our upcoming squirrel hunt. After revisiting some of the squirrel recipes of our youth, Luke, Jeff and I just might have a recipe or two for you as well.
Regardless of what is going on in the world, there are always small things, of beauty and splendor, for us to enjoy, admire and appreciate!
Watch “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” TV show on our YouTube Channel, or on CarbonTV.
If you haven’t heard any of the “DSC’s Untamed Heritage” podcasts, visit blubrry.com/untamedheritage/ to listen to one of our dozens of podcast episodes.