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Monday, August 4, 2014

Indiana squirrel season opens, Friday Aug. 15, Kentucky the following day

It’s not time to put away fishing rods, but hunting begins with squirrel season Aug. 15. Squirrel season leads the way for other seasons soon to follow.
Indiana squirrel season runs through Jan. 31, 2015, and the daily bag limit is five. Kentucky season opens Aug. 16 and continues till the end of February 2015.
Squirrels are a mainstay of small game hunting. While their numbers vary from year-to-year, squirrels continue to thrive and are plentiful. The numbers of other small game such as rabbits, quail and grouse have declined significantly in the past several decades.
Despite a very bad winter, indications are there will be plenty of squirrels to hunt this fall.
The state primarily has two types of squirrel to hunt -- fox and gray. Red squirrels may be found, but are so small very few, if any hunters, seek them.
Fox squirrels are larger than grays and they are characterized by their large reddish tales. Their backs are brown and the belly ranges from light cream color for younger animals to a darker cream or almost yellow for older squirrels. They usually weigh about a pound and a half to two pounds.
Gray squirrels are named for their obvious color. While their back has a touch of black most of the body and the tail in particular appears gray. The belly of the younger squirrels is white and as they get older it appears more cream color. They weigh about a pound to a pound and a half.
Diehard squirrel hunters take to the woods opening day, but ticks and heat keep many  hunters out of the field the first few weeks, while their counterparts further north sometimes get an earlier start. Many 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. 
Traditionally, when I have the opportunity, I like to get out opening day, if if is just a short trip, to kick off hunting season.
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.
Squirrel can be cooked many ways, and the way they are best may depend on whether the squirrel is young or old. The younger bushytails are good fried, while the older squirrels are best baked of with some other similar slow-cook recipe.
Young 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. But even if you are, you can cheat once in a while.

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