Can you feel it in the air yet? I know it’s hot and muggy right now, but it won’t be long until we can all enjoy those cool fall mornings that every hunter yearns for around this time of year. Most of us are probably daydreaming about fresh peeled-back yellow bark on a fat cedar tree or that heavy-racked “Mac Daddy” buck that managed to get away last season. These are the thoughts that bounce around in my mind throughout the day at work, but I also start thinking about how I was first introduced to hunting. I grew up squirrel hunting in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky with my father and grandfather and I wouldn’t trade those precious memories for anything in the world.
There is no doubt that chasing squirrels with a single-shot, 20-gauge shotgun made me the hunter I am today. It’s where I learned the art of quietly sneaking through the woods without being noticed and how to read an animal’s body language. Woodsmanship skills like identifying trees or knowing when to move and when to be absolutely still were all lessons I picked up from squirrel hunting. This is also how my son started out hunting and I found myself teaching him the same lessons that were taught to me by my father and grandfather many years ago. Squirrel hunting is a great way to introduce a young child to the outdoors and the easiest way to shape and mold a true hunter.
Last season, my son James harvested well over 50 squirrels with a bolt-action .22 rifle and most of these bushytails were shot in the head. The skills he learned squirrel hunting have enabled him to take two nice bucks including a wall-hanger 13-point. I can’t think of a moment in my life when I have been more proud than on that cold November morning when James dropped his first buck with a Remington bolt-action rifle. Without question, squirrel hunting taught my son stealth, a genuine respect for the outdoors, and has allowed him to fine-tune his marksmanship skills. This fall start your kids out right by taking them squirrel hunting and I guarantee they will become better hunters. Plus, these quick and inexpensive squirrel hunting trips can help forge strong family bonds that will last a lifetime.—Travis Faulkner