The Ozarks have been like most of the Midwest for the last three or four weeks--very hot and, for the most part, dry. This is typical for late July and August but also signals that we’re heading toward the end of summer. A couple of other things it always brings to mind for me are school starting up and squirrels feeding on hickory nuts. In our area both of these usually begin right around Aug. 15.
Squirrel season opened on the fourth Saturday in May and will remain open until Feb. 15. The daily limit of squirrels is 10 and the possession limit, or the most any one person can have whether in camp or at home, is 20. Squirrels may be hunted with a dog, but the most common method in our area is likely still hunting.
Right now and for the next three weeks or so, though, an often very productive method is just to find a hickory tree that is loaded with hickory nuts and sit down close to it. After just a few minutes of sitting quietly you will very likely hear the grinding noise of a squirrel cutting the husks off the hickory nuts, followed by the sound of those cuttings falling through the leaves and to the ground. If you do you’ve found a hot spot that many squirrels are likely to be working, and you may be able to get a good start on filling that daily limit.
Don’t be in a hurry to get to the first squirrel you shoot, though; just sit quietly and in a few minutes you’ll likely hear another one or two working the same tree. A trick I like to use to calm those remaining squirrels back into feeding mode after any shooting is to rub the ribbed edges of two quarters together. To do this hold one quarter flat and the other crosswise to it and then just apply pressure against them while scratching one with the other. Done correctly, this produces a sound that very closely mimics the grinding of a squirrel’s teeth on a hickory nut and can reduce the amount of time you have to wait between shots. I also think it, to a certain degree, calls more distant squirrels to your location.
Now, if you really want to have fun, pick a nice and somewhat cooler morning to go; but also ask one of those kids who so recently had to start school again to go with you. They’ll love it, and I guarantee you will too. After the hunt, squirrel with biscuits and gravy will just be a bonus!
Sunklands Conservation Area, Angeline Conservation Area, Rocky Creek Conservation Area, Current River Conservation Area and Birch Creek Conservation Area.