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Author Topic: Don’t Take it to the Squirrel Woods - by Ray Zesch  (Read 532 times)

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Don’t Take it to the Squirrel Woods - by Ray Zesch
« on: June 12, 2003, 02:22:00 PM »
Don’t Take it to the Squirrel Woods

by Ray Zesch


Have you every heard “the voice”, the one that nags “you can’t stay here, you should be…”? It is hard to leave this uninvited, tag along, reminder of responsibilities behind.  There is always a chore, duty, or responsibility. Yeah, you know “the voice”. This voice often seems to be the loudest when we want to hear it the least.  Strange thing, I don’t remember when I first started hearing it, but when I was young I am sure it was not there. Anyway, there is no place for this voice in the squirrel woods! Leave that meddler and kill joy somewhere else, anywhere, but don’t take it into the squirrel woods! Only young boys and unencumbered men can properly purse the squirrel.

On this particular day, I could not get ”the voice” to leave and I am sure I would have been the better for the enjoyment without it’s company, but it would not leave. Maybe we should start a new club, an association, or a brotherhood of  “don’t take it to the squirrel woods”, oh well, no one would come to the meetings; after all, we should all be doing something else more important.

It was an early August morning, just made for pursing the bushy tail. The squirrels were in the hickory trees early this year. The day was a clear sky blue with cool dry air. It was a great squirrel morning that held the promise of the coming fall. I was strolling down one of my favorite hardwood ridge tops, all ridge tops with squirrels are my favorite, and strolling is no doubt an appropriate description, you see you need to be a boy in the squirrel woods to properly stalk the great bushy tail. In Missouri we have gray and red (fox) squirrels. The reds are my preference to hunt, and the grays are my choice for the skillet. But any squirrel taken with the bow is a trophy of immense stature fit for only the most noble of hunter. It takes an optimist or perhaps a boy at heart to purse the great squirrel. An attitude that is not concerned with what probably will be, but rather what could be. Such was this morning in August.

As is often the case the rustle of leaves is the bell tower that calls the hunter to attention. Those of us who love to purse the squirrel are well acquaint with these unique sounds. There are many of them, but the two most basic are the “hurried scramble” and the  “poke around” sound. No, you will not find these “technical” classifications in any science book. The “hurried scramble” is a squirrel on the move, going from one place to another, no time for stopping, maybe he is hearing “the voice” also. The “poke around” sound comes and goes, it includes digging in the leaves and short distances of three to four feet at a time. In both cases the rhythm is unmistakably squirrel in nature.  It was the “poke around” sound that first caught my ear and caused an abrupt stop. No, I didn’t stop with one foot still hanging in the air; I will leave that for people with better balance than me. As I looked in the direction of the sound, as is often the case, I did not see anything at first. The squirrel ranks high, but not quit as high as the whitetail on the scale of “you are there but I can’t see you”. One of the squirrel’s weakness, there are many, is it’s bushy tail, a burden to bear. On this morning in August when I first saw the large red he was flat belly with all fours legs out against a wide limb only twelve feet or so up in a large white Oak. Thinking back on that day it seems that I was being goaded and dared the whole time. Being an optimist I had visions of a squirrel hanging from my quiver, but that was not to be. Let me say now, this particular squirrel wanted me to shoot him. Moving within a reasonable distance (for me something less than 15 yards, the closer the better) I drew my trusty bow and let fly my deadly projectile.

There is no sound that I like more than the thumb of a bow in the woods, it belongs, and it says all is well. I especially listen for it when I am in the woods it is part of the pleasure there. My arrow flew directly at the squirrel and was less than an inch low, not what I wanted, but it wasn’t a terrible shot. No excuses here, I just flat missed, I am accustom to this circumstance, another arrow was on the string. No room for hesitation here, an opportunity deserves an arrow. The squirrel headed for the treetops. This is always a dilemma, stay or go. I find myself waiting more often than not, I am not fond of shooting arrows up to the treetops and I don’t. Another weakness of the squirrel, they have less patience than me, imagine that, I like them for that. On this day “my squirrel” was moving from tree to tree, performing a high wire act that always leaves my neck hurting. This is an especially dangerous time for the hunter. The floor of the woods are full of traps when you are looking at the sky.  My squirrel, he now belongs to me, was really not intimidated, but he was annoyed that I would interrupt his day. After several trees it was time to come to earth again, I was hot in pursuit.

I like squirrels that are brave, not intimidated by arrows flying by, daring by nature, and resolved that this is their home not mind; such was “my squirrel”.  A head from behind a tree about shoulder height dared me to try my skills. The arrow was off heading directly towards its mark, and it most certainly would have hit it, one of my better shots, but “my squirrel” effortlessly withdrew his head. I am sure he was laughing as the arrow went by. Who said there is anything easy about hunting squirrels?  Not me!

The events that followed that day afforded two additional opportunities, but I was to go home without a trophy. However, I was far richer for the time. I have resolved that the voice that hurries, nags, and constantly reminds me of appointments, responsibilities, and commitments will not be my companion on my next trip.

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