Scattergunning for Squirrels

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

dropped me off in a section of the 60-acre woods. I carried an old Hunter Arms, double-barrel 12-gauge shotgun, Fulton Model. The left barrel was choked full, and the right barrel was choked modified. Both barrels were loaded with highbrass number 4s.

As Mark had assured, the woods teemed with fox squirrels. Shortly after first light, I spied eight squirrels shaking limbs as they foraged for ripening pecans and shellbark hickory nuts.

A young fox squirrel less than 20 yards away in a pecan tree to my right offered the first shot. I shook a small sapling and imitated the bark of a squirrel. The young squirrel spun around on its perch and, from behind a limb, peered down at me, with only its head visible. My old double spoke, and the squirrel tumbled. I stood still as squirrels scurried and barked.

Another young fox squirrel, curious over the commotion, jumped to the pecan tree where my first squirrel had been feeding. It, too, peeked at me over a limb, and I sent it tumbling. Thirty minutes later, not having moved from the pecan tree, I cleanly killed another young fox squirrel. I could have finished my limit from that spot, but I wanted to see more of the timber.

I gathered up the three young fox squirrels, strung their feet on a sharpened stick and moved about 100 yards. I sat at the base of a huge sweet gum tree, at least 4 feet in diameter at its base, and waited for other squirrels to appear.

I admired the three squirrels I had already taken. Each was in practically perfect condition. I felt the front legs. Maybe one or two had taken a piece of shot. Their backs and hind legs were unmarred--perfect for frying.

The woods held such an abundance of squirrels, I decided to use my pocket binoculars to study squirrels as they foraged for nuts. I would do my best to shoot only young ones. Within 90 minutes I finished my limit with five young squirrels and an old female that I would use for dumplings.

That evening, as I finished cleaning the squirrels, I thought about the merits of using a shotgun to hunt bushytails. It was still challenging. The challenge was simply different than that of using a rifle.

With a shotgun, the challenge involves selecting your shots to kill a squirrel cleanly without ruining the meat with pellets. This requires learning

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