Squirrel-hunting prospects are great throughout Carroll County this fall.
The season began on Oct. 5 and continues through January, making it Maryland's longest small-game hunt. The bag limit is six a day and has been for as long as I can remember.
Squirrel hunting is a very special sport for many hunters. Bushytails are often the first game animal sought by novice hunters. Yet a limit of gray squirrels is one of the most bTC consistently difficult bags to fill.
Given a good mast crop, such as we have this year, squirrels are abundant just about everywhere. Most importantly though, I know of no better place to be than in a colorful, smoky-scented wood lot in October. That is exactly where I spent a recent afternoon.
Because the trees still were wearing most of their leaves, I carried a full choked 12-gauge pump loaded with a full 1 1/4 ounces of No. 6 shot. This is a favorite choice of bushytail hunters who must shoot through heavy tree foliage or in the vicinity of homes.
The .22 rifle is my personal choice when stalking within shotgun range is all but impossible due to dry leaves carpeting the ground. At this time shots tend to be longer.
The mild little rifle is ideal for squirrel hunting -- quiet, accurate and inexpensive to shoot. Later I'll be squirrel hunting in a sparsely wooded meadow that only can be tackled successfully with the rimfire.
I have hunted this week's wood lot for a number of years and
knew of the locations of a couple of den trees, so I picked a " comfortable stump near one and waited for the activity to begin.
We tend to forget that when this country was being tamed, most of the landscape was heavily wooded and squirrels provided a valuable food source. But, this abundance of bushytails also had an unfavorable impact.
They are great crop destroyers. This menace was so serious that at one time nearly every colony and early state placed a bounty on them. Even today, any wood lot bordering a corn or other grain field is a hot spot for squirrels. Slowly walk the edges and you usually can fill a limit with little difficulty.
I had chosen my stump well and in a little less than an hour had four grays in my game bag -- enough for a tasty stew and another October afternoon to tuck away in my memory.
Trap shoots scheduled
The Dug Hill Rod and Gun Club plays host to a public trap shoot beginning today at noon. This is a popular gathering the third Sunday of each month.
Today's shoot and next month's are probably the most popular because a lot of bird hunters attend to get in some preseason practice before serious pheasant, quail, rabbit and waterfowling gets under way. The cost for a round of trap is $2.50.
The club, in its 51st year, is on Wine Road, near Manchester. From the Westminster area, turn right off of Route 97 onto Bachmans Valley Road, then left onto Wine Road.