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The evil uprising of the squirrels

By DAVID GRAVELY, sports@southwesttimes.com

 

Courtesy Photo // Cody Rorrer has been known to get the job done at the lake, but Friday he was able to get it done in the woods as well. Cody took this dandy five-point buck, his first buck ever, on private land in Montgomery County while hunting with his dad, James Rorrer. He took the buck with a perfect 30-yards shot. Send your hunting and fishing photos to sports@southwesttimes.com.

I hate squirrels. I also don’t know of too many hunters who particularly like them, but my list of close friends isn’t exceptionally large, so that opinion could be rare.

 

Why do I hate squirrels? I’m going to assume that most people who will ask that question are not deer hunters. If they were, I wouldn’t need to explain the terrible and incredibly rude things that squirrels do on a daily basis to hunters around the country.

 

I like to get to my tree stand before dawn. Normally I try to get there early enough that I can be in my stand at least 45 minutes to an hour before the sun comes up enough to be able to see. Why do I do that? I enjoy watching the woods wake up. I know, not everybody does it, but for me being able to enjoy that part of the hunt is important. Of course the older I get, the less likely it is to happen, but I always try to make it happen at least a few times each year.

 

So as you sit there in the pre-dawn darkness, your senses become fine-tuned to the woods around you. It’s a little something I learned in the Army. We always sat in the dark with our eyes closed and listened to the woods before we started a mission. You learn what the normal noises are, that way when something new is heard, you recognize it easier and quicker.

 

We didn’t see to many squirrels in the Army. That was likely a fortunate thing. If you’ve never sat in a deer stand in the quiet woods, you don’t understand just how much noise a single squirrel can make. Countless times I’ve sat in my stand, thumb ready to take the safety off my weapon, heart beating a mile a minute in anticipation of what surely must be the biggest buck of all times coming toward me through the woods … only to have a squirrel stick its head around the tree and laugh.

 

The closest experience I had to that while in the Army took place at a place some old time Army guys and gals may remember. Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, was the former home of the Joint Readiness Training Center for the Army. It was one of those realistic training areas Uncle Sam sent his fighting forces to go against a simulated enemy force, only the enemy was real people pretending to be bad guys. At the end of the rotation you were evaluated on how you reacted to contact and all of the other things you did in the Army.

 

One of the guys in our unit, we’ll call him Private Murphy for security and privacy reasons, was from the northeastern part of North Carolina. Murphy knew all about the woods, having grown up in a town much like Pulaski. He was a hunter and fisherman, as most of us were.

 

As we lay in an ambush position one day, quietly and alertly awaiting the arrival of the bad guys in our ambush kill zone, Private Murphy heard a noise. Always ready for action, Murphy looked over the log he was hiding behind, but didn’t see anything. Like the good soldier he was, Murphy reported hearing the noise to his squad leader.

 

That squad leader, who we’ll call Sergeant Smith, listened for a few moments and told Murphy, “It’s just a deer, go back to your position.” Sergeant Smith was from the great state of Arkansas, so this trip was like coming home to him. He was confident in his assessment, so we waited.

 

A minute later, Murphy again heard noise, but this time he heard whispered orders being issued. Confident that deer do not whisper orders to each other, he reported again to Sergeant Smith, who listened for a full 30 seconds before telling the young Private, “Murphy, I told you it’s just a deer. Now get back to your position.”

 

Without hesitation, Murphy did as he was told and took up his over watch behind the log.

No sooner than Murphy had settled in, the enemy opened up with blank ammunition fire (remember, this was all simulated warfare) and began moving to overtake our position.

 

Always the good soldier, Murphy immediately did the right thing and reported the status change to his leader as only he could.

 

“Sergeant, Bambi’s got a gun!”

 

I’m unsure if I was laughing harder at the initial statement or the look on Sergeant Smith’s face, but Bambi and his bad guy friends were unsure of how to take it as they advanced on us, so they turned back their advance and retreated into the woodline.

 

I guess somebody on their side might have thought we were squirrels?

 

There have been plenty of nice deer taken this hunting season. The big buck photos started coming in with the onset of archery season and haven’t slowed down. Apparently the only hunter who hasn’t gotten a big buck yet is me.

 

There have also been plenty of bears spotted again this season. I’ve noticed at least five local hunters who have taken big to really big bears, at least two of them with archery tackle.

 

It also seemed like more people than normal harvested turkeys during early archery and early muzzleloader seasons. The big birds may be best known for their Thanksgiving usefulness, but I’m still eagerly awaiting spring and hopefully another delivery of turkey salad from Jeff Hinton of Snowville.

 

Hopefully we’ll all be able to get out into the woods more now that football season is ramping down. I was able to get out last weekend, but never had a clean shot at anything.

 

Maybe I should just go out looking for squirrels?

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