OUTDOORS: Cottons, squirrels and other things SeptemberWORTHINGTON — The dove season seems to have come and gone in about four days. The 35-mph winds that accompanied the first week of the season sent almost all of those birds a packin’.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The dove season seems to have come and gone in about four days. The 35-mph winds that accompanied the first week of the season sent almost all of those birds a packin’.
I was out on Sunday and had the opportunity to shoot three doves in about two hours. They all came over in one bunch, which allowed one shooting opportunity in 2 hours. This is not hot and heavy action by any means.
I have heard very little about the early goose season, but when my son comes home for a few weeks he will take in the Turkey Day celebration, two weddings and then chase a few geese. I will then get a better idea of what’s happening on that front.
September is a busy month at my house with my step daughter Erin Haberman getting married on the 18th, and my daughter Brittany Rall getting married two weeks later on Oct. 2. This will keep everyone hopping for the next few weeks.
The opener of the squirrel season starts Sept. 18, and it is going to come and go with me tied up with other important activities. I am going to make an effort to hunt squirrels this season and this is something I haven’t done for many years. There are many other hunters that pursue them though, and last year they harvested more than 150,000 squirrels statewide.
This is one very interesting creature. Squirrels are one of the few animals that have actually thrived as the human population in the state has grown. They seem as perfectly well suited to living in someone’s back yard as well as a state forest somewhere. Almost all wildlife suffers when habitats become fragmented and human activity increases. They seem to buck the trend in this area. The high quantity of bird feeders is another possibility as to their success.
Gray squirrels grow to about 10 inches in length with a tail about the same length. They weigh about a pound and a half and reproduce twice annually. They nest in hollow trees or nest balls made up of a 12- to 16-inch clump of leaves and twigs located in the tops of trees. I think their favorite nest site is in my wood duck boxes. They are perfect for the purpose and when a squirrel occupies a bow, the duck stands little chance in my opinion. They have two to four young that weigh less than a ½-ounce at birth, but are totally independent at 12 weeks
I used to cover the openings of my wood duck boxes in the fall to keep out squirrels and other undesirable birds. A squirrel is total capable of determining that the hollow cavity exists and has no problem chewing a new entrance hole right through the side of my duck boxes. It did not take long for me to abandon the idea of closing the holes in the fall.
There seems to be more than ample places to squirrel hunt. Abandoned farm places are a great start and there is usually almost no competition from other hunters when it comes to getting permission to hunt squirrels. They are one of the most sought after of Minessota’s small game animals and, when pressed close to a tree, are more than challenging to hunt.
Most hunters will use a .22-caliber rifle and a slow saunter through wooded areas to hunt squirrels. I, for one, am very cautious anytime I shoot a rifle skyward. You need to make sure you have the right angle. This means only taking a shot where the tree provides an ample back stop. The bullet from a .22 can travel more than a mile in the open.
This hunting requires solid firearms safety. It seems hunters are doing a great job in this area because I have not heard of a single accident report from squirrel hunting.
The limit is seven squirrels per day with 14 in possession; and the season runs until Feb. 28. I will have a hard time chasing squirrels once the pheasant season opens. Squirrel hunting hours are a ½-hour before sunrise to sunset. You can actually keep your eyes peeled for a cottontail rabbit as the seasons for those are the same as squirrels. I have hunted and eaten cottontails and they taste great.
When you think about the amazing creatures we share the planet with, even the common gray squirrel can amaze. They have the ability to hide or bury 25 nuts in a half hour and — months later — can find 80 percent of them. I have a hard time keeping tabs on one set of trucks keys on certain days.
This is another good time to remind you to take a kid or young adult out in the field with you. The temperatures are moderate and activity levels should be enough to keep a kid interested.
We all have an obligation to introduce someone young or old to the joys and mysteries of an outdoor lifestyle. One of my favorite sayings is people who don’t hunt or fish miss out on the great parts of the day. That would be sunrises and sunsets. Be it squirrel hunting or any other outing, make a commitment to spend more time outdoors.