This year's squirrel season could be one that we remember for a long time. Every Carroll County wood lot I've explored these past couple of weeks has been teeming with squirrels.
The season began Wednesday, and I enjoyed one of my all-time favorite hunting sports for a few hours before dark by hunting a squirrel haunt practically in my back yard.
I usually carry either a shotgun or an accurate, scoped .22 rifle, but this time out the nod went to a .177 caliber spring piston pellet rifle made by Anschutz and imported by Crosman about 10 years ago.
This is an accurate single shot that is perfect for 20-yard shots on squirrels in areas where the sound of a shotgun or .22 rifle might cause alarm. Any pellet rifle capable of pushing a .177 caliber pellet at least 1,000 feet per second from the muzzle will pass as a residential-area squirrel tool.
Because only a few leaves have fallen, the careful hunter should be able to get within pellet rifle range with little difficulty. The key, even with a thick carpet of dry leaves, is to move slowly.
Take a couple of steps, lean against a tree and look and listen for squirrel movement. A little later in the season, when there is less tree cover to conceal movement, I tend to either sit near a den tree, near a heavy acorn fall, or use one of several calls.
The squirrel hunter, like any small-game hunter, knows how to move through game country, what to look for and how to handle wind, calm, rain or cold. He knows how and why to plan and place a shot and when not to shoot.
An experienced squirrel hunter will know how to blend into the surroundings. Most tree sitters would be lost if they had to actually find and stalk within range of most gamebirds and animals.
I moved cautiously along the steep bank of a narrow stream bed, managing to collect three gray squirrels and miss two. It took about an hour to move 100 yards and then I crossed the woodland stream and worked my way back toward home. On the return trip, another fat squirrel was added to the bag and lots more were marked for additional short hunts until season's end on Jan. 31.
Check your deer rifles
The early muzzleloading deer season will take place Oct. 20-22 when Carroll hunters will be permitted to bag one antlered buck.
If you are not sure where your frontloading rifle is putting its load, drop by the Mayberry Game and Fish Protective Association, off Mayberry Road, just east of Taneytown, to take advantage of the free Department of Natural Resources-sponsored muzzleloader sight-in between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. next Sunday.
A similar DNR-sponsored sight-in day for rifle/slug hunters is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Deep Run Rifle and Pistol Club, near Union Mills.
Fishing has been great
Fishing at Liberty, Piney Run and Prettyboy reservoirs has been great and will continue for a while.
Liberty's striped bass (rockfish) are hitting live shiners near Oakland Point, as well as trolled deep diving crankbaits. Largemouth bass are slamming live shiners and rapala lures near ledges during the day and around grass beds in the evening.
At Piney Run, large crappie are nailing small spinners fished near structures. At Prettyboy the largemouth are hitting white spinnerbaits in shallows and white perch are grabbing spinner/nightcrawler combos in the mouths of coves.
Learn to fly fish
If you like to fly fish or want to learn more about it, attend the 7 p.m. monthly meeting of the Patapsco Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited Thursday at Greenway Gardens.