Updated: Dec 6, 2019
Every fall, I head off into the woods, bow in hand, with hopes of shooting a giant whitetail buck; I mean who doesn't right? I have many stands setup in thick oak tree country where the acorns fall by the thousands come early October. This is one of the many natural food plots we are blessed with that all types of critters take advantage of; squirrels, hogs, deer, turkey, and numerous bird species to name a few. An acorn falling from the top of the canopy all the way down to the earth floor is such a distinct sound in my mind. I can tell the difference between a branch or leaf hitting the ground compared to an acorn. They start hitting leaves on the initial decent and really has a nice thump to it once it hits bottom.
Squirrels live thick in these areas and take full advantage of the seasonal opportunity to stock pile their winter food source. Fun fact, squirrels actually bury their nuts in stashes in the ground and come back to them throughout the winter and dig them up to eat. Many of the stashes never get tapped into and result in the planting of a nice new tree. Squirrels plant thousands of new trees every single year, crazy!
I think every tree stand hunter would agree that at one point in their hunting careers they have been fooled by a squirrel thinking it was a monster buck walking in. That is definitely true for myself, it happens to me multiple times a year. I like to believe that shows hunter awareness and demonstrates you are indeed listening intently and using all of your sense to better your chances in the field. It does often feel a little embarrassing to get your heart racing and riled up but who cares!
I will never forget what I saw two years ago on October 25th, 2017, I was sitting a tree stand in mid-Michigan at a farm where I had been seeing a lot of deer, particularly in the evenings. I set out early to my stand and got there 3 or 4 hours before dark. Of course, I was sitting in thick acorn country and it was just getting to the point where things got really crunchy on the ground with all the leaves flying. I had been seeing tons of squirrels all evening and watched them through my binoculars as they ran all over the place. But right about an hour before dark, I heard some heavy crunchy of the leaves to my 6 o'clock. At that exact moment all the other squirrels in front of me gorging themselves with acorns took up a tree for cover...
I slowly turned to see what was coming my way and I kid you not, at first glance I thought what I saw was seeing was a small raccoon. In my head I thought there is no way that can be a coon, its much too red. Then my gut instinct told me, "Maybe it's the neighbors dog?". The closer it came I started to put the pieces together and saw what it really was once the tail started bobbing like a bobber with a gill on the end. IT WAS A FOX SQUIRREL!
Folks, I kid you not this squirrel was bigger than a small dog. It looked like a mix between a baby hog and Arnold Schwarzenegger but had the athleticism of a ninja. The mass this critter had was unreal! He weighed 8+ LBS, no lie. The average size of a Eastern fox squirrel is roughly 1 LBS on the large side. I don't know what the record for the largest squirrel is in the U.S. but this guy was bigger than anything else out there. I am honored to see what I saw the night of the 25th, October, 2017. I don't care if a single soul believes me, I saw what I saw.
Small game hunting for squirrels is a great activity to take kids and new hunters out to get their feet wet. If you have never been hunting or just have never tried hunting squirrel, I highly recommend it. The meat tastes great and they are rather easy to clean. There are hundreds of squirrel recipes to choose from as well and it only takes a few squirrels to fulfill a recipe. If you need help getting started into squirrel hunting and need pointers or tips to help you get going, please leave me a message on the contact tab at the top and I will get you out and rollin in no time.
Have you seen something spectacular in the woods that nobody quite believes you on? Let me know your story in the contacts page! I love good stories!!