Archive for the ‘Squirrel Hunting’ Tag


Kevin and his two pre-teen sons find a scenic camping location with a waterfowl in a remote location. As they pitch their tent, have dinner over an open fire and settle in for the night, four drunken teens announce their presence.  The location is a favorite drinking location for them.

The teens, embolden by their drinking decide to evict the family. As the discussion becomes more threatening and the teens encroach on the campsite.  Kevin pulls his pistol and points it suggesting that perhaps the teens may want to find another location.  They decide to leave rather than risk a shot from an angry father.

Once the invaders are safely out of sight, Kevin packs up his children and gear. They safely leave what could have been a very serious situation.

This parent protected his family thanks to his right to concealed carry.

Stories such as this spotlight the need for concealed carry for the outdoor recreationist as well as potential victims of crime in urban areas.

However, before you carry your concealed weapon on your next outing there is some precautions needed.

To begin with some states have laws prohibiting carrying while in the field. For instance a state might ban bowhunters from carrying a firearm in the field regardless of the reason.  Some governmental agencies prohibit handguns at all times on their parks and refuges.  Still other states do not recognize concealed carry permit from other states.  This is reciprocity.

If you are traveling from one state to another it is important to know the law in all the states through which you are traveling. Your permit might be valid in your home state and the destination state but you might be traveling through another state where it is not valid.

How can you keep up with the ever changing laws that might affect your carrying protection while in the field? One of the best sources of current information regarding concealed carry is the website of United States Concealed Carry Association (

They also have an App there as well so that you can access the information on your phone while in the field.

One of the easiest ways to get information on reciprocity is the State Reciprocity Map (

Another valuable website is the Safe Gun Travel site (


Kids Shooting0002

The season of gifting is fast approaching. For some it might include the gift of that first gun for a child.  There are some basic considerations in gifting a firearm.

The first consideration is the proposed use. It may be for waterfowl hunting, upland game hunting, sporting clays, trap, etc.

Then there is the size of the person who is going to use it. If it is a woman, the problem is not as great as with a youngster who will continue to grow.  It is important to choose a gun that will not beat the person to death with the recoil.  Nothing is more discouraging to a novice shooter than being beat up by the weapon.

Shooting like all activities must be fun for the beginner. The smaller the shooter the more the recoil will abuse them.  This can be a catch twenty-two situation.  The more mass of the weapon, the greater the recoil.  The heavier the mass, the more difficult it is to carry and aim.

Recoil, however a genuine problem, is vastly overrated as a problem.

Adolescents and women do not suffer the degree of ills from recoil that men complain about. They are more likely to listen to instruction and have not been brainwashed into expecting a recoil problem.  Women and adolescents are more inclined to ride with the push of the recoil.  They have good shooting techniques with a flexible shooting stance.

In addition to the gauge of the shotgun, it is important that a weapon fits the person using it. If the stock is too long or too short, the angle of the stock to the barrel gives the individual the wrong sight picture when aiming.

Things like the length of pull or pitch need checking. A gun that fits properly improves the accuracy of the shooter and is an excellent way to reduce recoil.  A good gunsmith can help with fitting a shotgun properly to the person who will use it.

Single shot guns cause one to become a better hunter in terms of taking shots that are very ethical and getting into better position to make a killing shot. Because you do not have any back up shots with the single shot, you pay more attention to your first shot.  You only have the one chance to make a mistake or drop a bird.

Mentally, if you walk into the field with a single shot, you are thinking differently than if you have a repeating firearm or an over/under shotgun.

The single shotgun is not just for a beginner’s weapon. It is a weapon for the most advanced hunter as well.  As we examine the very high end of ethical hunting and it becomes more about the quest than the completion of it.  A single barrel shotgun adds to the challenge and teaches one that he does not need a repeater because he is a hunter.

Single shot hunting is light tackle hunting. Light tackle hunting with a small gauge weapon is probably the pinnacle of the sport as well as a good choice for the novice.


Snug in a leafy treetop canopy, squirrels present a challenging quarry for the early season hunter.

Snug in a leafy treetop canopy, squirrels present a challenging quarry for the early season hunter.

Chasing this ghostly king of the treetops is a small game hunting challenge that requires careful planning. All too often the quarry is underestimated. In southern Illinois there is an abundance of squirrels and public land upon which to hunt them.

A wise hunter will utilize information regarding the available food supply. Both Gray and Fox squirrels prefer hickory, black walnut, and white oar acorns. Look under trees for signs of squirrel feeding. This can be pieces of hulled-out nuts, and acorns bitten into and cast aside for one reason or another.

In the local forests, hickory trees might be somewhat scarce. Find one with fresh cuttings under it and you have a squirrel hunter’s gold mine.

Oaks, both white and red, are a second choice for most squirrels. Again study the ground around the oaks for sign that the tree rats have been feeding there. Squirrels will leave empty acorn caps, pieces of acorn shells and partially eaten acorns. Squirrels are messy eaters and leave plenty of notice that they have been in the area.

Squirrel hunting, for the most part, consists of a slow walk through the woods pausing every now and then to scan the upper canopy of the trees for activity. Some view this time as an opportunity to do some pre-season scouting for deer, make decisions on treestand placement and the clearing of shooting lanes. It also provides a chance to thin out the squirrel population near intended treestand sites. Nothing ruins a chance at a deer faster than an irate squirrel baking at a hunter.

Many hunters prefer to hunt squirrels alone so as to be at one with nature and enjoy the early fall weather. But, the team approach probably is more productive in terms of meat for the table. It consists of a slow walk with one hunter 25 to 30 yards in front of his partner. As the squirrel’s attention focuses on the lead hunter, the trailer takes the game.

Squirrel calls to get the quarry to expose themselves to the hunters. The call is not to “call” the squirrel. They are a tool of aggravation. Once the quarry hears the sound of a stranger invading his territory he cannot resist scolding the intruder. This scolding gives away his position.

Another tool of the wise squirrel hunter takes advantage of the squirrel’s habit of moving to the far side of a tree from where the hunter is located. He then peeks around and watches the hunter walk on past. Smart hunters sit still and wait of the squirrel to come around the tree trunk to see why the hunter did not pass. If the squirrel does not come around, one can toss a stone or branch to the other side so as to make noise. The squirrel will scurry around to be opposite the noise and runs right into the sight of the hunter.

The hardwood stands on 400,000 acres of public land in southern Illinois are home to many squirrels.


coyote in winter

Coyotes have a tough time finding food in winter but wildlife watchers are more apt to see them.


A red fox dives for fleeing mice in field of brown grass.  An eagle soars overhead calling to its mate with a shrill scream.  A white-tailed deer browses on the edge of a thicket.  Canada geese rest in the wetlands.  This is Illinois at its wildest.

The woods and fields are alive with wildlife.  Nature lovers can find all sorts of birds and animals to watch throughout the county.  Especially popular is bird watching and eagle tours.  But, other areas can provide equally interesting viewing.

A variety of vegetation and terrain in this area attracts and holds numerous species of birds and mammals.  Two hundred and thirty-seven species of birds are resident, migrants, or frequent visitors.

Watching wildlife does not take a lot of expensive gear.  Binoculars and some guide books are a good beginning.  Field guides assist in identification and help at home when reviewing ones notes from a day afield.

When heading out, be sure to take a notebook.  Field notes should include the date, location, weather conditions and animal behavior, along with any unique observations.

Beginners must learn to identify animals and birds by sight and sound.  Noting the color, shape and other outstanding observations make it easier to identify species.

Familiarize yourself with animal behavior and favored habitats.  For example, deer tend to prefer thick cover until late in the day when they move out into fields to feed.

Learn to recognize animal habitats.  This knowledge assists in identification and helps to eliminate species not associated with a specific habitat.

Advanced wildlife watchers learn the calls and songs of mammals or birds.  This helps to identify those species hidden in dense cover.  By familiarizing oneself with bird songs and mammal calls, one can chase down each sound until he discovers the source.

The direct approach is not the best way to seek out wildlife.  Wild animals must always be wary of possible danger and when an intruder comes straight at them it usually signals a threat.  By acting disinterested while sneaking a glance now and then, you may be able to observe the unfolding drama of their activities.

It is important to be patient and avoid direct attention to the animal encountered.  Appear disinterested.  Fiddle with vegetation, look away from the animal while moving slowly closer and you will be able to approach much closer than you would think.  Staring at an animal causes them fear and uneasiness.  Quick looks are much less obvious and less likely to make the animal nervous.

Some animals such as ducks and geese can become very approachable due to constant association with human activity.  Other animals are so skittish that the first hint of the presence of humans sends them fleeing.

Generally, however, the use of patience in observing wildlife works well.  It will result in closer views for you and less intimidation for the animal.  Watching wildlife can be challenging and educational.



Gun Protect 1

We have all done it.  And we will do it again.  You come home from a hard day afield, drop your cased gun and gear off, and go on with life.  Later you or the spouse put the gun wherever you store it normally.

Sometime later you either remember you forgot to wipe it off or when you are going out again, you notice rust forming on the metal parts.  If you wait too long the problem will be out of control and require re-bluing by a gunsmith.

Sitting with TJ Stallings of TTI Industries following a day of crappie fishing out of the world famous Rend Lake Resort this subject comes up.  TJ explains how some of his cohorts have come up with Gun Protect, a firearms cleaning treatment and storage system.

The system comes in a kit for total corrosion protection.  The Spray Shield and Weapon Wipe part is for protection, lubrication and cleaning of the weapon. There is a Safe Environment Module to place in your gun case or safe that contains modules that attach to metals for protection at a molecular level.  If the safe is more than 20 cu feet you place a module in the bottom and another in the top.

The third product in the kit is a Rifle-Shotgun Cloak.  Just place the weapon into the plastic cloak and close with a reusable plastic tie.  It provides up to a year of protection from rust and corrosion.  Target shooters are also putting ammo in the cloaks for protection of the brass.  The theory is that bright jackets eject faster which is handy in the field.  They spray it first and them place in the cloak.

The cloak and modules emit molecules to form a corrosion inhibiting skin (CIS) on the metal surfaces.

That is a lot of recovery and future protection for less than 30 bucks.  For more information go to



More people are turning to the observation of nature as a way to get away from their existence with concrete and complications.  Whether used for watching wildlife or for hunting enhancement, the increase has resulted in a need to protect the life of optics.

To that end, here are some excellent precautions and recommendations.

The thing you see a lot of people do all the time is using a shirttail to wipe off your lenses.  That is probably the worst thing, especially if it is early season hunting.  You sweat a lot and you get dirt and dust that becomes mud and grit inside you shirt.  It may not look like it when you start wiping those lenses but you are making minor scratches.  You may not put them into the lens you put it in the coatings.

The coatings are what control so much of light transmission and even clarity.   You want to protect them at all cost.  Even when wearing the binoculars around your neck.

If in a situation where you have to wipe lenses you always take two steps.  If you can, get the dirt off without touching or putting anything on the top.  Blow air on the lens.  That is the ideal situation.

If you have to touch it a lens do not touch it dry.  You want to lube it with some lens cleaner.  If you do not have lens cleaner try a lens cloth or lens wipe tissue, those are better anyway.  If you are stuck in a situation without anything, and you have to use your shirttail, then at least breathe on the lens a little bit.  Fog it up so to speak on the outside.  It provides at least a little bit of lubrication.

Carrying binoculars around your neck is the most protected from dings and jars.

Even the best binoculars in the world are damaged if they take a hard enough hit.  Try to keep them in the case as much as possible.  People put them up on the dash and the heat is not really going to hurt them a whole lot.  It may fade the finish a little.  It loosens up them up from the vibrations.  Put them in the case or keep them around your neck for real protection.

What kind of coatings should people look for when shopping?

Every company seems to have different ones and everyone is proprietary.  You do not really know what is in the coatings.  The easiest thing to look at is, whether or not it is multi-coated and is it fully multi-coated.

Multi-coated means at least one lens inside has more than one coating on it.  The more coatings you have the better your glass is going to be in terms of light transmission and resolution.

If you are shopping for new optics, the first thing is to set your budget.  Know what you are going to spend and then look at the products in that light.    Just like all things, the value for what you pay is so much better.  However, fully multi-coated is ideally what you want to see.

If you are buying from a major manufacturer, they all have good coatings.  A lot if it comes down to ergonomics, how it feels in your hands.  Fully multi-coated is what you should seek.

Finally, carrying a cleaning kit to do those kinds of things is an easy thing to forget.  Nevertheless, you can buy those small cleaning kits and even those little lens wipes you see people using to clean their glasses.  It is better than doing nothing.

Even lens wipes, used the entire season, there comes a time to throw them away and get a new one.  They collect dirt during the season.  Those little cleaning kits, such as found in a photo shop, are just a good way to protect your investment.



Over the past few years, there has been an increasing interest in day packs.  It’s a trend that has probably saved more than a few lives.  A day pack can vary from a fanny pack to a back pack.  The idea is that it contains all the things the hunter might have need of during the trip afield.

It use to be that hunters in the Midwest did not feel a need for a day pack.  We are after all quite close to civilization and can walk out of any risky situation.  WRONG!  How are you going to walk out if your leg is broken and your hunting partner is not within voice range?  Not long ago a mother, with her young child, went for a walk near their home in southern Illinois.  They became mixed up in the directions and night fell upon them.  The pair had to spend the night in the woods until rescue teams located them the following morning.  They were only a few miles from a large town but did not know which way to go.

What should a day pack contain?  First of all should be a first aid kit.  Good ones can be purchased or one can be constructed by the hunter.  It should contain everything from aspirin to band aids.  Burn ointment and bee-sting medicine is also a good idea.  If you have any particular medications that are taken on a regular basis, such as high blood pressure medication, that should also be included.  If the hunter does not see well without glasses, then a spare pair, in a hard case, is a good idea.   Moleskin is a good idea for treatment of blisters.

Next should be a space blanket, the type made of foil and light in weight.  A fire starting kit can be made of waterproofed stick matches and lint from the household dryer.  The lint can be packed in a zip-loc plastic bag.  Matches can be waterproofed by coating the heads with a heavy coating of clear nail polish.  This works better than coating with wax as the wax tends to melt in hot weather.  The nail polish coats the wood and match head to prevent penetration of moisture.

Also on the market is duct tape under the name of Duck Tape.  It comes in a three-yard flat pack that is easily stowed.  It is much easier to work with than taking a role of the usual grey duct tape.  Either type of tape is handy for repair of equipment or in emergencies.  It can be used to mend waders and to cover blisters.  It can be used to seal pan legs to keep out ticks or to tape an ice pack to a sprain.  You can even wrap ankles with the tape immediately after a sprain to provide stability and help reduce swelling.  It can be used to hold splints in place to support a broken bone.

A high shrill whistle is a good idea.  Whistles hold up longer than vocal cords when trying to attract help.  Three short blasts on a whistle is a recognized distress signal.  Another signal device is a mirror.  There are aluminum ones available in camping stores.  A good compass is a welcome navigational tool.   A map of the area can be helpful in case you become lost.

Another good tool is a multi-blade knife like the famous Swiss army knives.  A small flashlight and fresh batteries are a must.

It also helps to have some hard candy or a high energy bar as survival food and for peace of mind that you won’t starve to death.  Water purification pills and a large zip loc bag can be used to prepare water for drinking when your canteen becomes empty.

There are things like a wire saw or a saw-blade knife are handy for hunter in that they can use them to clear shooting lanes or to help in field dressing game that has been downed.

The purpose of the above survival items is to supply the necessities to provide for you positive sense of psychological as well as physical security.  It is there if you need it.

Other items in a day pack are more directly related to the type of hunting one is doing and the weather conditions one might encounter.  There is nothing like warm clothes to change into even if it is just dry socks after one has fallen into a stream.  A sweater is helpful if the weather situation is likely to change during the day.  Fall often means warm temperatures during the day with cold temps in the early and late portions.

Often a poncho or light weight rain suit is appropriate depending upon the type of hunting one does.  There are any number of thin plastic suits on the market that are very light in weight.  They do not have to be expensive if they are only to be used in emergency situations.  A large plastic garbage bag will even work.  Just cut holes of the head and arms and slip it over the top of your other hunting clothing.

Most day packs have several compartments.  The outside ones should be reserved for the first aid kit and for things like calls that might be needed on a minutes notice.  Bulky things like clothing can be packed inside the main compartment.  By packing and re-packing several times, the hunter is soon aware of the order he needs to use.  Try not to over load the pack.

You will find that the more you use the pack, the more sure you are of what to put in it and in what order.  Things like calls and trail gear as well as food stuffs (lunch and snacks) and water can get too heavy.  Take only what you think you will need.


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