Squirrel Crazy

In 2010 my squirrel hunt was one of the highlights of my hunting season and I couldn’t wait for the squirrel season to start this year. I decided that this season I would be in the trees opening day with a few friends. I had hunted turkey in the spring in unit 4b and found a camping spot that I was pretty comfortable with. We headed up to that same spot the day before to get our bearings and set a plan for opening day. There was a lot more traffic in those woods during the early Elk season then there was while I was up there chasing gobblers but our camping site was secluded enough that we were not bothered by any traffic, well not hunters anyway.

After unpacking our gear we hiked down to a couple of waterholes about a half mile from camp but didn’t see any squirrels. While we were out we climbed into a few old turkey blinds and did some predator calling for about a half hour with no takers. There was a ton of elk sign near the water and we found that at least a few turkeys had been stomping around. That Spring I had seen a herd of antelope in the trees nearby and there were fresh tracks from them as well.

For dinner we roasted a whole pack of hotdogs in tinfoil right on the fire. About half the pack was pretty burned but with some mustard and a can of sardines it was actually a great meal.

Things started getting crazy as soon as the fire went out. Shortly after climbing into our tents we heard a bull elk bugling, it sounded like it was about a half mile away at the waterhole. The guys that I was hunting with had never been this close to a bugling elk before and they were pretty excited. Then the bull started coming closer. Every minute or two this bull was screaming and coming closer. At about 3am it sounded like it was right on the other side of our truck 25 yards away. At this point a pack of coyotes joined in the chorus. First we heard them just beyond where the elk was standing, then one opposite camp, then another to our North, slowly more and more coyote joined in until they were all around us. After about a 10 minute screaming match between the coyote and that bull elk everything went silent. But the silence didn’t last. Within about 30 minutes the bull elk started bugling again from a few hundred yards on the other side of our camp site and did not stop until dawn. Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep.

When we finally rolled out of camp that morning we spotted the herd of elk that had been keeping us up all night. It was about a dozen cows and one big 6×6 bull. They ran right across the road in front of us as we were headed to some better squirrel country about 2 miles north of camp.

Sunrise in the Ponderosas

We did not see any squirrels for at least the first 3 hours of daylight. But did get to watch an awesome sunrise through the tall pines. We did get dive bombed by about a half dozen crows that managed to fly right between the shot from my buddy Jared’s 20 gauge.

Finally around 11 am I spotted the first Aberts Squirrel of the day. It was sitting right in the split of a big Ponderosa about 80 feet up. Jared had never shot a squirrel before so I pointed it out and he knocked it from its perch with some no.8 shot from his break action 20 gauge. I found a nice mule deer shed about 30 feet from where this squirrel landed to add to the stack at the house.

I think that the shed must have been a good luck charm because within about 5 minutes Jared had harvested his second squirrel of the day. He was looking forward to so squirrel and dumplings so we stopped to clean these two. As they were being skinned out I spotted our 3rd squirrel of the day watching us work and added him to the menu.

One Down

The three of us were pretty tired from the lack of sleep and all the hiking that morning and we decided to head back to camp. As we were rolling into camp I saw a flash of white a few hundred yards from the road and headed that way after we stopped the truck. After about a 5 minute chase this one turned out to be the largest squirrel of the day. I packed him whole on ice and took him to my taxidermist for a mount.

All in all we collected a one man limit between the three of us and had a great time doing it. I am already looking forward to opening day 2012.

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