My first bushy tail hunt of '19 season

Discussion in 'Traditional Muzzleloader Hunting' started by Docgp, Oct 17, 2019.

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  1. Oct 17, 2019 #1

    Docgp

    Docgp

    Docgp

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    I write these things for myself, so forgive me if you think it is hokey or stupid. I like to journal these things for myself for future memories. I hope at least someone finds it interesting.


    I like being "that guy". You know the one. The one who the other guys at camp look sideways at for wearing all the "old timey" stuff. The one who they think is nuts cause "those moccasins aren't waterproof!!" The one who loads his smoke pole from (gasp) the front end!. All that said, I love my crew at squirrel camp. Great bunch of guys, and always supportive (if not a little envious I think) of my eccentricities.

    Anyway, the weather forecast was perfect. We have been having 80 degree days in NE Texas, but the night is supposed to drop to 38 degrees and clear skies. I LOVE hunting with a nip in the air. Alarm goes off at 6:30, sunrise at 7:30. Tossed on my gear and grabbed my partner for this adventure. I have a beautiful little Caywood 62 caliber fowler with curly maple. Medium dark stain and a few miles on her. I call her "Moriah" in honor of Mark Baker, although I think I spell it differently. I love reading his stuff.

    My standard load is 70gr 3f and 1 1/2 measures of #6 shot. My dress includes elk hide moccasins and leggings made (poorly) my me, fall front knee breeches, a long walnut stained linen work shirt under a walnut brown hunting frock, my flop hat a small brain tanned deer skin shooting bag with small powder horn.

    Upon arrival to the woods, I carefully load my girl, making sure that the proper order was followed, and place her on half cock. The morning is absolutely perfect!! There is steam rising from the forest floor as the sun just starts to peek through the trees and warm the duff underfoot. The smell of pine, hickory and oak when you get far enough into the woods to loose sight and hopefully sound of the road. I love to walk up on a high bluff and wonder "what is down there". That is an adventure for the next trip.

    I have only been doing this for about 5 years, and have so much yet to learn. I love the feel of slipping through the woods in moccasins. You can feel the woods alive under your feet. Put your foot in the wrong place and you can feel the half inch pine limb bow as it warns you it is about to snap and give away your location. It gives you a chance to reposition your foot so as not to spook the game. I also really like my old flop hat, but I am going to have to cock it up in the back. It is a pain to look up to the top of these old oaks looking for the little tree rats. (Bushy tails are my passion).

    I quietly slip along for about 20 minutes, and spot 2 or 3 at a distance scampering away as they spot my silhouette. I am content in a way I am nowhere else. I don't own these woods. Technically they belong to the State of Texas, but these are MY woods. My great grandfather hunted them, my grandfather, father, myself, and my son have all hunted these woods. Good lord willing I will get to hunt with my grandson's and maybe even great grand children. I am no great hunter by any means, but I dearly hope to keep the tradition alive.

    After another 10 minutes I come to a beautiful oak flat. Grand old ladies of the woods. most would take at least 3 people to reach around. Huge canopies of squirrel playground and even more important, dining hall! I figure this is as good of a place to stop as anywhere, so I begin to scan for a good spot to sit a spell and just watch the forest. I find a straight, tall elm about 10 inches in diameter with a nice thick bed of pine needles and leaves at it's base. There has been just enough rain that you can move quietly and not disturb the serenity when you nestle down for a spell. I quietly arrange my shooting bag, canteen, and fowler in the appropriate positions and then lean back and rest on the trunk of the elm tree. What a glorious little oak flat. I haven't been to this exact spot that I can remember, but I can assure you I will be back. As the crow flies, I am about 50 yards from a lake, and you can occasionally hear the call of an angry great blue heron as she is disturbed from her fishing.

    After about 10 minutes, the woods settle back down to it's normal routine, as if I am not there. A pair of red tail hawks soar overhead calling to each other, or maybe they are warning other red tails as they stake out their territory. One lands in the tree above me, but it is a terrible angle for me to observe, so I just listen to them talk. In the distance I hear 2-3 squirrels barking and grumping their discontent, whether with me or something else, I do not know. This is why I come to the woods, for moments like this. The peace and tranquility is good for a man's soul. I smile as I listen to the language of the forest, and then I doze off to sleep.

    When I awoke, it had probably only been 10 minutes or so, but long enough that my toes were getting chilled. The damp moccasins and 35 degrees tend to work in concert to cool ones feet below the comfortable range. As I survey the scene, I catch a glimpse of motion to my left. A large fox squirrel has just jumped from one of the few pine trees across to one of the oaks. She quietly slips down the limb until she reached a large crotch, conveniently only 25 yards away from me. I watched for a few moments as she expertly pealed the petals off of a green pine cone to get at the seeds within. Knowing that it doesn't take them long to finish one cone, I knew it was time to act. Ever so slowly I raised the Caywood and pulled back the hammer. "CLACK!!" Dang I don't remember it being that loud! She froze and now was looking directly at me. Thankfully I had already had the fowler in position and all I had to do was pull the trigger. The flint faithfully shaved off the tiniest piece of molten steel, which also did it's job in the priming powder, and Moriah barked to life in a giant ball of flame and smoke! Oh how I love that smell. And while the view of the crotch where the squirrel sat was now obscured, I did see her fall and hit the ground. The woods were now silent. The smoke hung over the forest like the steam which had been present earlier that morning.

    The next 10 minutes were spent ever so slowly and carefully reloading my fowler. When sitting in woods, every movement seems like a signal beacon. Every sound multiplies ten times. But eventually all is finished and I settle back in to watch and wait......and enjoy. After another 15 minutes the woods come alive again. A particularly loud woodpecker lands on a tree about 50 yards away and begins his shrill little chirp and the rat-a-tat-tat of a miniature jack hammer.

    I catch movement in a tree straight in front of me. A little cat squirrel is working her way down a limb on one of the giant oak trees. She is about 35 yards away. Probably at the maximum distance that I feel comfortable with my old girl. It turns and starts to move parallel to me, and from the direction of the limb, I know this is as good as the shot will get. Once again the fowler roars to life. Very little pause between flint and steel and ignition of the main powder charge. However this time I don't see it fall. I catch movement through the haze and it crawls up in the canopy. Obviously it is hit, but not a clean kill. I hate to wound an animal, or waste an animal. I try to reload more quickly this time and hopefully get a second shot to finish the job. I have now lost site of her in the canopy, and decide to stand and see if I can find her. For about 10 minutes I attempt to locate the elusive creature in the tree, but to no avail. I am only about 10 yards from the first squirrel, so I picked it up and examined. It is a beautiful, fat female fox squirrel. Still clutching the half eaten pine cone in her mouth that she had been feeding on. I put her foot through the ring on my shot bag and used a small stick piercing the foot as a toggle. Picked up my gear and took another look to survey the area before walking away, and sudden movement caught my eye. Something was falling from the trees. It was the little cat squirrel. She had finally gave up the ghost and thankfully fell from the tree. Now I have two beautiful little squirrels. At this point I have been in the woods for about two hours and I am fine with the harvest. Knowing that we have several new hunters in the camp who will have surely returned by now, I am content to return to the campfire and share the stories of the hunt. I slip as quietly as I can out of the woods and return once again to the "real world". This adventure now permanently relegated to my collection of hunting memories.

    Doc
     
  2. Oct 17, 2019 #2

    Brokennock

    Brokennock

    Brokennock

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    Not hockey or stupid in my book. I find it interesting. This is where I turn when I can't get out after them myself. I thank you for taking me along with you.
     
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  3. Oct 17, 2019 #3

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

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    Enjoyed reading that sir, thank you.
    Walk
     
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  4. Oct 17, 2019 #4

    ghostdncr

    ghostdncr

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    That was fine reading, right there. Thanks for sharing it!
     
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  5. Oct 17, 2019 #5

    Britsmoothy

    Britsmoothy

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    Great writing :cool:
     
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  6. Oct 17, 2019 #6

    ZionHeritageFarm

    ZionHeritageFarm

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    Thank you sir. Your writing style reminds me of the stories I read in my youth. The awe of nature and hunting which drew me to it then, and the part I try so hard to recapture today. It is a struggle sometimes with the hectic pace of life. Thank you for the redirection reenforcement !
     
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  7. Oct 17, 2019 #7

    BIGBEAR

    BIGBEAR

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    Great story sir : I think I'll take a day off work and just enjoy the fall woods and shoot a squirrel or two .... :)
     
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  8. Oct 17, 2019 #8

    Sparkitoff

    Sparkitoff

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    Nicely done
     
  9. Oct 17, 2019 #9

    kemart17

    kemart17

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    wonderful story, thanks for sharing!!!!!
     
  10. Oct 17, 2019 #10

    hanshi

    hanshi

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    You make me anxious to get out there and shoot squirrels!
     
  11. Oct 19, 2019 #11

    Ricochet

    Ricochet

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    Nice story and hunt Doc! I, too, love to hunt the little rounders!
     
  12. Oct 19, 2019 #12

    Stony Broke

    Stony Broke

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    So when you get back to camp, do you cook up some for the guys ?
     
  13. Oct 19, 2019 #13

    Docgp

    Docgp

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    Stoney,

    Oh absolutely!! I like to soak im buttermilk overnight, flour well, brown, and drop in slow cooker with gravy for about 3-4 hrs. Make a big pot of rice or mashed potatoes!! Mmmmm
     
  14. Oct 20, 2019 #14

    Boomerang

    Boomerang

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    Thanks for sharing your story with us! Squirrel hunting is my favorite thing to do.
     

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