My friend and my brother and I used to hunt squirrels, and other game, on a game-filled property in the heart of the Maryland farm country. Things with wings were the main attraction, like ducks or mourning doves. Canada geese, however were the real lure that brought us there, and populations were on the upswing in the early 1970’s. The shooting was often truly extraordinary.
The goose hunting was more than satisfying for our fathers and their friends, but not always enough for us. We were, after all, young boys bursting with inexhaustible momentum, and guns, and we badly needed something to do when the morning flights of Canada Geese had ended and the birds had laid up to rest.
For me, it was not just a way to pass the time until the late afternoon hunt. Goose shooting is thrilling, and fun, but squirrels…now that’s a young hunter’s big game.
Fortunately, the hardwood fingers between the cornfields and the backwaters of Chesapeake Bay were absolutely jammed with the elusive bushytails. We spent a lot of time still hunting through the autumn leaves, sharpening our eyes behind the rifle sights and practicing our future whitetail hunting skills. Squirrels fell all around us, though I doubt that we ever really put much of a dent in their numbers. They are, among so many things, a restless and boundless survivor in the long-term scheme of things.
I miss those days spent within that colorful cathedral of canopy, slipping soundlessly around the trunks of tall trees with my chin pointed to the sky. Patience is a virtue in this game, as is focus and sharp eyesight. A flash here and a flash there was sometimes all you got, but sometimes, if you were lucky or good, you got a little more too. A squirrel’s head is a tiny target, and you could fancy yourself quite a marksman if you could drop one cleanly and quick.
Long ago I graduated to hunting much bigger and glamorous game, in places where the terrain and scenery could not be much more different from that gentle land. But those squirrels of my youth have never journeyed very far out of mind, and that is a good thing.
I long to hunt squirrels. I crave those simple and rewarding days in the land of sassafras and scolding bluejays. Some are quick to say that the world moves on, and that you can never really revisit a time gone by. Perhaps that is true, but certainly not in all things. I would like to think that squirrel hunting is one of those.
I feel a well deserved squirrel hunt coming on, and some Brunswick Stew to go with it, wherever they may be…
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“Sure, the usually available squirrel is fine game for the beginning hunter. No game animal will give him better training in hunting fundamentals – stalking, concealment, woodsmanship, and shooting and gun handling. And should he become so fortunate that he has a chance at them, those early lessons will serve him well on this continent’s most prized big game animals…Frequent jaunts to a convenient squirrel woods season the long and colorful careers of many of our most famous hunters…
The hunter pussyfooting through the squirrel woods is not seeking a trophy animal, is not concerned about the behavior of an expensive bird dog, nor is he attempting to impress a hunting partner with his wingshooting. He is in the hardwoods for the pure joy of hunting…
-By Bob Gooch, found in All About Small-Game Hunting in America. Edited by Russell Tinsley.
All About Small-Game Hunting in America. By Russell Tinsley
Published by Macmillan, 1984. Very Good condition in Very good Dustjacket.
$12.95 plus $4 shipping (in U.S.)
Few events are more memorable to a hunter than the taking of his or her first buck. My guess is that you would probably agree.
Here is a picture of mine, which I recently found in a box of old Ektachrome slides. It is the only physical record I have left, as the mount was lost in a fire so many years ago.
I took this Maryland buck in 1971 when I was thirteen years old, with a Pumpkin Ball slug fired off the bead of my Remington 1100 shotgun. It could not have been a more beautiful, crisp, November morning in that wonderful land of whitetails. It was a fine shot too, for it is not so easy to make a fifty yard shot with that equipment. I was more than thrilled, and I don’t think anyone could have wiped the smile off of my face for several days.
I can recall almost every detail of that scene to this day, and I don’t mind revisiting it periodically in my mind. Obviously, it is not the biggest whitetail buck ever harvested, but it may as well have been, at least to me. Why it was as big as the world.
I hope that you have a memory like this in your box of experiences, and if not, may you get one soon.
Long live the white-tailed deer…
You Can read the full story HERE
Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty
The Whitetail Deer Guide-A Complete, Practical Guide to Hunting America’s Number One Big Game Animal
by Heuser, Ken
Hard cover. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York (1972)
Very good in very good dust jacket. xii, 208 p. : illus.; 22 cm. Includes Illustrations.
$9.95 plus $4 shipping (in U.S.)
October 15, 2015
“One hot afternoon in August I sat under the elm, idling, when I saw a deer pass across a small opening a quarter-mile east. A deer trail crosses our farm, and at this point any deer traveling is briefly visible from the shack.
I then realized that half an hour before I had moved my chair to the best spot for watching the deer trail; that I had done this habitually for years, without being clearly conscious of it. This led to the thought that by cutting some brush I could widen the zone of visibility. Before night the swath was cleared, and within the month I detected several deer which otherwise could likely have passed unseen.
The new deer swath was pointed out to a series of weekend guests for the purpose of watching their later reactions to it. It was soon clear that most of them forgot it quickly, while others watched it, as I did, whenever chance allowed. The upshot was the realization that there are four categories of outdoorsmen: deer hunters, duck hunters, bird hunters, and non-hunters. These categories have nothing to do with sex or age, or accoutrements; they represent four diverse habits of the human eye. The deer hunter habitually watches the next bend; the duck hunter watches the skyline; the bird hunter watches the dog; the non-hunter does not watch.
When the deer hunter sits down he sits where he can see ahead, and with his back to something. The duck hunter sits where he can see overhead, and behind something. The non-hunter sits where he is comfortable. None of these watches the dog. The bird hunter watches only the dog…”
From the chapter entitled “The Deer Swath” in A Sand County Almanac”, by Aldo Leopold.
I read this for the first time many years ago, and the basic premise of it has stuck in my mind ever since. It is classic Leopold, whose writings always seems to leave behind more thought-provoking questions than he answers. He was, and still is, one of the preeminent teachers of the natural world.
Looking back, I realize now that I have always sat with shoulders squared up to something at my back, watching.
Perhaps I am just a deer hunter at heart. It is the promise of deer, for which I wait.
Where do you sit?
You Might Also See The Aldo Leopold Foundation
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A big thumbs up to Jenna McBride, who took this magnificent Wisconsin Eastern Turkey in April 2017.
Jenna is becoming quite the huntress too! At fourteen years old, this is already her second bird…
“It was an interesting day, we were in a blind and I called once or twice early when the turkeys were still roosting.
We then had a hen come to our two decoys and stay by the decoys for 2.5 to 3 hours or so until this tom came in. We had one other tom that stayed just out of range for almost two hours before leaving once it started to rain. So I never had to call again as I had a very cooperative hen with us all morning.
Jenna did all the gun work though. She told me if she gets a shot, she would get a turkey. She didn’t miss!
And I forgot, I’ve never got one that big”. – Kevin McBride, Proud Father
Not to be outdone, 16 year old sister Molly McBride followed up in May with an even bigger 27.1 pound tom.
Now that’s a turkey hunting duo to reckon with!
Dad had a tag in his pocket too but never picked up the gun. He says that it is much more fun to be their guide. And yes, Kevin also acknowledges that “the girls had a good year”.
Now that’s the turkey hunting understatement of the season…
My biological nature makes me wonder if there is something in the water out there, or just what in the world these turkeys had been eating to get so big. Whatever it was, it certainly did the job. If registered, both birds would fall in or near a list of the top 50 heaviest birds ever recorded with The National Wild Turkey Federation in Wisconsin.
Search The National Wild Turkey Federation Record List Here
As for Jenna and Molly, something tells me that this will not be their last turkey hunting adventure. I can only hope that I get a chance to hunt with them sometime, or at least follow them around for a bit. No doubt they could show me a thing or two about how it should be done.
Now that’s a mean set of wheels, and some spurs to be proud of!
Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty
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A TROUT OF A LIFETIME – UNTIL NEXT TIME!
A big trout is an extraordinary creature – built for power, speed…and battle. Some, like this guy, are more than a match for any fisherman.
We all wish to catch a trout like this one day. If any of you already have, then you know that maybe, just maybe, there is another fish like this out there…deep below the surface…finning…watching…waiting – for one more cast…
May your waters be wild, and big!
And Oh, By The Way – You Might Want To Get A Larger Net…
Original Pencil Drawing Of a Brook Trout By Charlie Manus of Marble, Colorado
Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty
“I never lost a little fish. It was always the biggest fish I caught that got away.” – Eugene Field
“There is always a feeling of excitement when a fish takes hold when you are drifting deep.” – Ernest Hemingway
Here’s a buck that I have watched grow up over the last few years. I can only imagine what he may look like next year – should he survive another Colorado winter and a long hunting season. The light may not be very good, but as you can see, he is a good buck by any measure.
Unfortunately, this buck roams from private land to private land and my guess is that he never steps foot in a place where you could hunt him. But then again, perhaps he does.
There is a small piece of almost inaccessible public land that borders his normal range. I think I shall hunt him there, next year. Or should I say, I will try.
A man has to look forward to something, particularly through the long interval between seasons.
But for now, it’s sure nice to see him again…
Ray Seelbinder of Western Colorado has recently completed the North American Deer Slam with his latest trophy – A Columbian Black-tailed Deer from Oregon. More impressively, he did it all with traditional archery tackle and a bow that he built himself.
It looks like a good one too.
Congratulations Ray! You are an inspiration to us all.
– Word Just In – It looks like this buck might just make the Pope & Young Record Book by about 1″ (green score). Hopefully, it won’t shrink much during the P&Y required waiting period. I’ll cross my fingers for Ray!
*The North American Deer Slam includes the fair chase harvest of a mule deer, white-tailed deer, coues deer, black-tailed deer, and Sitka Deer.
**”Two forms of black-tailed deer or blacktail deer that occupy coastal woodlands in the Pacific Northwest are subspecies of the mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). They have sometimes been treated as a species, but virtually all recent authorities maintain they are subspecies. The Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) is found in western North America, from Northern California into the Pacific Northwest and coastal British Columbia. The Sitka deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) is found coastally in British Columbia, Southeast Alaska and Southcentral Alaska (as far as Kodiak Island).” – Wikipedia
For an excellent reference on the deer of North America, you might wish to purchase:
Mule and Black-Tailed Deer of North America: A Wildlife Management Institute Book. Edited by Olof C. Wallmo.
We usually have a copy in stock. Please email us at email@example.com for more information.
You Might Also like to read a little about his latest Coues Deer buck at Coues Head Soup.
Here are some photos from my annual Thanksgiving Day fishing adventure. And yes, I am a very lucky man…
Now, time for some turkey and stuffing with wild chanterelle mushrooms. That’s what I’m talking about.
Pat Hayes and his last season, last day, 2017 elk.
Any wall space left in that trophy room?