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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Squirrel season opens Thursday in Indiana, Saturday in Kentucky

Doyle Coultas hunts squirrels in a Perry County woods.

A year rolls around quickly. Once again squirrel season is arriving and will be kicking off hunting for the 2013-14 season.
For me, the squirrel opener in Indiana is easy to remember. It falls on my birthday, Aug. 15. Another year more mature for the old man, but the start of a new fall Hoosier hunting season.
From all indications, this fall’s season should be a good one with plenty of squirrels to hunt.
Opening day and the early part of squirrel season in Indiana is generally a hot weather time of the year. It opens during those lazy hazy “dog” days of August. That brings problems with dehydration and insects as well as finding the bushytails in the thick, dense canopy of leaves. 
Hunting during the early days of the season requires different tactics than late in the season when the weather has cooled and leaves have fallen from the trees.
Die-hard squirrel hunters take to the woods opening day, but ticks and heat keep many southern hunters out of the field the first few weeks, while their counterparts further north in Indiana get an earlier start. Some hunters prefer to wait until leaves begin to fall from the trees, while others enjoy sitting under an umbrella of leaves. It’s a matter of choice.
Across the river in Kentucky, state biologists recently completed a study that shows most of the state’s squirrel hunting takes place in August, September and October.
One of the advantages of early season squirrel hunting, is chances are better for shooting young squirrels. That equates to tender squirrels, which are better for frying. And, that’s what I happen to prefer.
During the early  hot days of the season, squirrels seem to be most active the first hour or so of daylight, and late evening, especially in hot weather. They also seem to prefer days when the wind is calm.
Squirrels are active in the fall as they scurry to store nuts for the winter. Often they are found on the forest floor looking for nuts, but at the first sign of danger they head for the nearest den tree.
Nut rich woods are good hunting sites in late summer and fall. Squirrels seem to particularly like shagbark and other hickories, white and black oaks, beeches and black walnut trees.
The best gun for squirrel hunting again is a matter of personal preference. Most hunters use either a .22-caliber rifle or a shotgun, and many use one or the other depending on the situation.
If you use dogs and tree squirrels, a rifle is a good choice. If you stalk squirrels, then many of them may be running on the ground and a shotgun is a good selection.
Most hunters first started hunting for squirrels. It is one of the best ways to get young hunters involved in the sport.
During early squirrel season, the weather usually is good and doesn’t discourage youngsters. There also usually is plenty of action.
And the skills (safety, patience, scouting, shooting accurately, etc.) learned while squirrel hunting, apply to other forms of hunting.
Squirrel, fried crispy brown is mighty tasty, and there is nothing better than squirrel gravy made with the skillet leavings. Fried squirrel, and the gravy over mashed potatoes make a great meal, unless you are on a serious diet.

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