John's Journal...



EDITOR’S NOTE: I've learned you can take more squirrels by talking and walking to bushytails rather than by sitting and waiting on them. Instead of moving into an area where I've seen cut nuts and uneaten nuts and sitting and waiting on one or possibly two squirrels to appear, I aggressively walk, hunt, call and cover a lot of ground to find large groups of squirrels. Squirrels often travel in bands with as few as five to as many as 20 squirrels moving and feeding together. Hunting areas with larger numbers of squirrels allows me to take more bushytails in a shorter time. I call to the squirrels, listen for them to call back and then stalk in closer before I start calling again. Squirrel calling can add a new dimension to your bushytail experience and actually increase your odds of finding and taking more squirrels. The many new tactics that have been developed and the new calls on the market have made the sport of calling squirrels much more fun, exciting and productive than ever before.

Click to enlargeAlthough I never had hunted squirrels in a national forest, the forest ranger of the Talladega National Forest, just east from my home in Birmingham, Alabama, Kent Davenport, had told me that squirrels were along every drainage in the forest. He said, "Just slip down the creeks, and you'll find the squirrels." However, after traveling 100 yards, I hadn’t seen or heard a squirrel. I reached into my pocket and retrieved a squirrel barker. I patted the rubber bellows part of the call and cupped my hand around the wooden throat to make the barking sound of a squirrel. Before I completed the call, not 30-yards away, I spotted a squirrel jumping up onto a small sapling. Then it started to bark back at me.

With my black-powder shotgun, I aimed and fired. After a loud explosion and a puff of gray smoke, the woods were still. I waited about 30 seconds after reloading and barked again on my call. Then I saw a squirrel's head pop out of a nut hole 20-yards away before looking both ways. The squirrel ran out of the hole, perched on a limb and barked. The smokepole once more breathed hot lead. The second squirrel tumbled into the crimson, yellow and orange leaves of fall. The barker had located one squirrel for me and called the second squirrel out of its hole.

Click to enlargeAccording to Brad Harris of Neosho, Missouri, a well-known outdoorsman and skilled outdoor videographer, "The barker probably is the best call to use to locate squirrels. If you're hunting in new woods and don't know where the nut trees or the den trees are, you can use a barking call to make the bushytails talk to you and give away their locations. Also a barker will stop running squirrels. If you hear squirrels running out in front of you but can't see them, bark at them. Many times they will jump up on the nearest tree to bark at you. With some barkers, you can take the rubber bellows off the back of the calls, make the barking call and follow that call with a scream to add more excitement to the call. Often squirrels will scream without barking to give away their locations to other squirrels."

Another important application of the barking call is to utilize it when squirrels are running around or through the trees and won't stop to present a shot. One day I was slipping along a woods road when I spotted leaves falling off a tree 40 yards ahead of me. I assumed squirrels were eating, playing or mating in the tree. With my binoculars, I found the rampaging tree rats. I quickly took my bellows call out of my pocket and bumped the back of the call four or five times. The squirrels stopped running. One bushytail scurried out on a limb to sit up and to watch to see from where the barking had come. Bringing my .22 to my shoulder, I looked through my 2-7X scope, spotted the squirrel and zoomed the scope from 2X to 7X. I prefer a scope with a greater magnification than 4X because I am a serious squirrel hunter who likes to make long, accurate shots. When the crosshairs settled on the bushytail's shoulder, I gently squeezed the trigger. The squirrel fell.

Click to enlargeAlthough the second squirrel hadn’t seen the first squirrel fall, it had heard the crack of the rifle and the lever action of the .22. With the skill of a gymnast, the second squirrel bounced from limb to limb headed for a den tree. Again, I barked on the call, and the squirrel stopped to look behind as it whipped its tail back and forth excitedly. Replacing my call in my pocket, I raised my rifle, braced against the tree and fired. The scope was accurate, and the second squirrel tumbled. I waited three minutes before barking again on the call, but nothing happened. After sitting still for 5 minutes, I barked lightly. As I was putting my call back into my pocket, I heard toenails against hardwood and saw a squirrel climbing up a sapling not 15-yards away. When the squirrel went around the tree, I raised my rifle to shoot and screwed my scope back from 7X to 2X. When the squirrel went around the tree, I raised my rifle to shoot and screwed my scope back from 7X to 2X. When the bushytail reappeared, his image filled the scope. The crosshairs settled on its head just before I squeezed the trigger. I had taken three squirrels in less than 15 minutes. Barking at squirrels and shooting accurately had paid off.


Check back each day this week for more about “HOW TO HUNT SQUIRRELS AGGRESSIVELY”

Day 1: Calling All Bushytails
Day 2: Barking
Day 3: Screaming
Day 4: Cutting
Day 5: Rustling Leaves to Draw Squirrels



Entry 320, Day 2