went out for a few hours yesterday afternoon, but only went to about a dozen or so dens. did not lay eyes on a single squirrel yesterday. I had a good chance to encourage the dogs on a few trees that they were really hot on, took a few action photos. was cold, but nice out, and no rats to skin. "all the fun, none of the work."
we did a little better today. Slick treed 5, but he would not stay on the tree on the first one. I had an easy shot, but he ran off the tree twice, do I tied him, coached him up a little and then walked away from that one. Lefty kinda helped him out on the second one. Slick was slamming a tree for as long as it took me to hobble nearly 400 yards. as I approached he and lefty both ran about 100 yards across the woods barking he whole way and got on another tree for about 10 seconds, then Slick sprinted back to the tree he was originally on, Lefty sauntered back. I looked for the squirrel for a minute or so then Lefty got on another tree about 20 yards from Slick. The squirrel was in the tree Lefty was on, and I was able to get a good shot. I'm calling that a joint effort. I'm good with a little teamwork. Slick got on another one pretty fast, within a couple hundred yards of the previous one. took me a minute find it in a huge white oak, but both dogs stayed treed solid the whole time. They must have seen it or were getting a serious downdraft to stay on it that long, lol. We walked a long way for a few more dens and made our way back across a very large woods. Slick hit one more near the end of our walk out, and it offered itself up nicely. I shot all four of these in the head. Three of them were still pretty alive when the hit the ground and required manual dispatch. The first one got it's head smacked against a tree three times and into the bag. While I was walking to squirrel number two, that little bastard started crawling round in my vest. I carry my gun across my back when I'm walking, so it couldn't get out, but still, carrying a live squirrel around in your game bag isn't ever a good idea. I had to re-kill that one after I collected rat number two. Lefty wanted nothing but to get into the cab of the truck when we got done. that dog ain't right in the head. Slick did all the work, anyway.
Slick actually treed 5 today, but he doesn't get credit for the first one since he ran off the tree twice. Lefty didn't really tree any, but pinpointed the one Slick found. I guess he deserves some credit for that. He did actually hunt some today, but not too much.
Uncle Charlie (aka, "the goof") and I headed south to Deercreek today. We went to one of my reliable spots first and Lefty found one, then Slick found one, and we watched Slick chase one up a tree and directly to a hole. We decided to try a place I've never put the dogs which, turned out, would be a great hunt if the rats were out. cuttings everywhere, den trees and leaf nests everywhere. we'll go back there a again next season dogs went to several dens, but we didn't see a squirrel on that stop. we did see some serious beaver activity. dozens and dozens of fresh cuttings and eventually found a beaver dam. I think it's the first one I've seen in Ohio. I've seen some beaver huts in a few places, but this was a relatively new dam, and a well made one, too. it was about 40' across.
I guess the engineer cut that one too long the first time. had to trim 14" off of it.
we dropped the dogs three more times, struck out on the first two, Slick found three more on the last stop of the day. one got away on a missed shot. the goof didn't shoot worth a damn today. missed every squirrel at least once, and one got away twice. that one ran down to the ground and somehow avoided both dogs and led them on a crazy chase that ended in a leaf nest. I fired twice and two rats died. On the last squirrel, Goof missed and it timbered immediately, but stopped in a nearby tree and hid again. the dogs stayed on it, we moved, and I loaded my gun while moving, just in case. Squirrel laid up and goof missed again. squirrel runs down the tree and sees me moving when I shouldered my rifle. rat held still just long enough for me to make a quick off hand shot. was a fun day. saw 6, killed 4. dogs hunted well. they are wiped out after three days in a row. I'm kinda happy it's gonna be a washout tomorrow.
dogs are on a big old osage tree. there is a hole in the other side of tree that both dogs stuck their head in at one time or another while they were on this tree. pretty sure there was a rat in there. they were pretty dang sure!
I headed up to Mohican State Forrest today for one last romp. We didn't do worth a damn there the two other times we went this year, but today was the best day we had there. It was eerily quiet in the woods today. no wind to speak of, no tweety birds singing or chirping, no road noise, but I did hear one plane fly over. There was snow on the ground, and clinging to every little twig. visibility was poor, but there were a few squirrels out today. Slick found 4, Lefty found one, and they all came home with us. had to make some tough shots today. first four trigger pulls made four squirrels dead. number 5 wasn't having any of that. it sure sounded like I hit the squirrel on the first shot, which was a 50+ yarder, which is a long shot for a treed squirrel, but it ran around the trunk and stopped. I had to move 50 yards to get a look at something besides the end of rats tail. got on it again, but got a deflection that time. heard the giveaway whirring sound of a tumbling bullet. squirrel moved again. I had to relocate again to get a shot at 1/4 a it's head. I managed to hit it. only one hole in squirrel, so I must have missed on the first shot. aside from coming home completely soaked from above my knees to my toes, including inside my boots. wet snow clung and melted on me all day long just walking through brush in the woods. as wet as I've been in a good while on a squirrel hunt. Dogs both hunted very well today. we had a very enjoyable hunt.
With squirrels, you never know what you're going to get. some days seem like they should be great and wind up being duds, some days that you'd guess would be slow turn out great. this time of year it gets even worse. I guess the rats are enjoying the stable weather, normal temps and light winds. Lefty found the first one today, the second was a joint effort as both dogs chased that one out of the woods, across a small clearing and into another woods, about 150-200 yards. both dogs going full speed, yipping and howling the whole way. I was highly amused to see Lefty with sassy pants on two days in a row. that is business as usual for Slick, and the rest of the morning was all Slick, but Lefty was in his hip pocket most of the way. Each dog found a den tree, and Slick found another squirrel in the small thick swampy woods that they chased the last squirrel into. I bumbled upon a small flush of Oyster mushrooms. they looked really good, but were partially frozen. I cut them to see if they would be worth eating after completely thawed. I walked the dogs back to the big woods where the chase began and Slick ran off 400 and some yards and cut loose again. I could barely hear him. He had himself a double in that tree. I made the mistake of shooting the lower squirrel first, then going for the higher one, which did stay put. I missed the second one 5 times. I had two good chances, but I just couldn't hold still. the rest were hasty shots at a very antsy rat that eventually timbered through three or four trees before I watched it go in a hole. It's good for the dogs to get to chase one that is timbering, and they both stayed with it. I walked past a squirrel that I spotted while walking to the dogs on another tree 50 yards away. nothing in the tree they were on. I sent them on, and it was only a minute or two Slick was on another tree. As I approached I could see that he was on a dead pine on the edge of a small patch of white pines. I gave it a quick look, and was pretty surprised to see that squirrel laying out on a dead limb, which made for an easy shot. I would have bet money that one was in a hole in that dead pine. Slick doesn't lie. he ain't got time for all that, . So now I have five fox squirrels and the 3lbs of Oyster mushrooms I cut in the small swampy woods they chased the second squirrel into already crammed into my vest. my little Filson strap vest is loaded to the max. Our hunt in this spot was pretty much over, but we had about a half mile or so to walk back to the truck. I led the dogs out of the woods and into a rabbit field that was bush hogged since that last time I was there a couple weeks ago. we also have to cross a small drainage that is choked with a bunch of damn Japanese honeysuckle, but does have two huge, sprawling Oaks. they are not super tall, but are extremely broad with a ton of large branches. Slick ran across the field, into the drainage and jumped on one of the oaks. by the time I got there he had left the tree. I stood there for a minute to see what he would do, and he got back on the tree, Lefty confirmed that something was there by joining in the chorus, so I went about trying to find a proverbial needle in a haystack. Somehow, by luck mostly, I managed to find the squirrel and maneuver into position for a shot with a decent rest in some pretty thick shit. First two shots sent twigs flying. rat held tight and third shot was right in the noggin. number 6 in the bag. well, I didn't bother to even try that, I just carried it back to the truck the last 600 yards in my hand. we didn't start hunting until a couple minutes past 10. We were back to the truck at 12:30. Was two hours of serious action. Helluva good day of squirrel hunting considering it was drizzling and spitting snow most of the time. Dogs were aces today, especially Slick. I should not ever complain about my dogs. they are both exceptionally good at finding active squirrels no matter the conditions in the air or on the ground. We've had two really fun and exciting hunts in a row. We've been covering some serious ground, too. Dogs are whooped. I'm pretty beat, too. The dogs rest tomorrow. I'm going to brace a bow and shoot a few arrows. Tomorrow I deer hunt, then we'll chase rats for the last two days of the season. can't believe it's almost over, again.
this time of year the weather has a very direct influence on squirrel hunting. no doubt, squirrels be diggin' this steady weather and light winds. we had ourselves another banner day today. I loosed the dogs in a woods that we have not visited since before Thanksgiving. it really isn't a big hunt, but it is along a big creek with lots of walnuts, locust, sycamore and a few big red and white oaks. I think we got two or three there back in November. I figured that would be about how we might do today. Such was not the case. The first tree was a collaboration. Slick found the squirrel, but was on the wrong tree. Lefty found the right tree 30 feet away. Slick found another right along the creek in the small amount of cover that is there. Ran out of cover and had to turn back shortly after. This river bottom does open up a bit going in the other direction. Our usual path is to follow the creek to the end of the public ground, then away from the creek to a small ridge with big oaks on it, then back toward where we started. Well, Slick wasn't having any of that this trip. once got to the fresh ground Slick beat it out of sight and away from the creek. Lefty was following the creek like we usually do. Both dogs out of my sight in opposite directions is what I like to see. They are both hunting, not following each other around. I couldn't see either of them, and nobody had barked for a few minutes. I'm looking at the tracker to see where they are and notice Slick is over 400 yards out and not moving, Lefty is moving fast toward Slick. I start marching and after about 100 yards I could hear Slick barking. they were together on a tree. The squirrel was there, high up in the tree, and facing up and away from me. the shot angle was steep, but doable. I hit the squirrel in the head, but it was not low enough to be a direct hit and kill it, but knocked it out of the tree immediately. when it hit the ground Lefty snapped it up like he always does, but this time the rat bit back. I mean this fucker had a death chomp on Lefty's face. Lefty was whining and growling and shaking the squirrel like he meant to tear it in two. after a few seconds of thrashing, the squirrel gave up the ghost. Lefty was pissed off, and loving it. he was quite pleased with himself for doing his duty. I don't get upset when he destroys my squirrel in that circumstance. Three in the bag, three head shots, sort of. I sent them off again, and both dogs ran along the small ridge together for a couple hundred yards. Lefty cuts loose on a big red oak and I can see him hard on the tree as I get within 100 yards or so. Slick is still running around with his nose on the ground, but before I could start looking for Lefty's squirrel, Slick starts hammering another big oak about 75 yards away. Lefty still hammering his own, so I start glassing for Lefty's squirrel. I found it, but had to move three times to get into position for a clear shot. Slick ran off his tree when he saw me kneel down to shoot, which spooked the squirrel around the limb enough for me to have a nice shot, which I made. I beat Lefty to the squirrel, grabbed is up and ordered Slick back to his tree. He sprinted to the tree and got busy barking again, Lefty followed. I spotted the squirrel fairly fast, but it was waaaay up in this big white oak up which was a good ways up the hill from me besides. I had to get closer, but the squirrel just slid around the other side of the large limb it was on when it saw me move. I found a good rest with a clear shot, picked up a stick about 3" in diameter and two feet long, glanced back up to make sure squirrel was still holding tight, then chucked the stick as far as I could toward the other side of the tree. the racket from that moved the squirrel back toward me just enough for a clean head shot. Now I have 5 rats in my little strap vest, AGAIN. we are as far away from the truck as we can be on this hunt now. I sent the dogs off to the south, back toward the creek. the area between this oak ridge and the creek is a swampy sea of Horsetail Rushes and briars with a few large cottonwoods. it opens up once you get back near the water. the dogs both barked a little on a big cottonwood about halfway to the river bank, but both moved on pretty fast and split up. Lefty started barking just when he got out of my site. by the time I got there, Slick had joined in. I'm thinking to myself that there is no way I'm gonna kill a limit of squirrel in this small river bottom in less than two hours. it just doesn't happen like that. Well, sure enough, Lefty had one and it was in a nice spot for a good shot. I was too far away, and as I approached, the squirrel moved just out of sight. I found a place to shoot and waited. Slick ran off the tree and ran back. when he did, he spooked the squirrel enough that I had a beautiful wide open shot. I don't know how I missed, but I did. the squirrel slid around the limb, out of my sight. a few seconds later i saw it sailing to the ground, and the chase was on. I had a helluva time getting to the tree where the squirrel stopped, dogs still hot on it's heels. dead logs laying everywhere and had to climb over, under and through a lot to cover 100 yards. as I got close enough to shoot I see the squirrel run down the tree, jump onto a small sapling, jump to another tree and disappear. I walk over to look for a hole, which I found about 20' up on a small sycamore with half a rat sticking out of it. I was laughing, the dogs are going nuts because they can see it, too. I took a pic and fired a round at the squirrels tail to try and roust him out of the hole, assuming he was only sticking out because he couldn't fit. he disappeared into that hole instantly when the bullet hit the tree next to him. gone for good. pisser. that was the easiest shot I'd had all morning. off we go, now heading back in the general direction of where we started. Slick went to a large Sycamore den tree with two holes in it big enough for me to crawl in. I sent them off again. they stayed pretty much together and didn't really stop moving. I could tell by the tracking screen that they were just about to where our hunt began, but I'm still over 300 yards behind them when Slick starts barking serious. I pick up the pace to get there, and he had another one. I spotted this one from a fair ways away in the open woods. I found a nice place to shoot and just waited. the dogs saw this one and were going ballistic. after a minute or two the nervous squirrel rolled up on top of the limb he was on offering me a perfect shot. nothing but brains this time. just like yesterday, I didn't even try to cram another rat into my vest. I just carried this one the quarter mile or so back to the truck. All of this in less than two hours today. crazy. Squirrels don't have much of a chance when both of my dogs are hunting. Lefty has surprised me this week. He has really hunted this week for some reason. makes me very happy.
rat in a hole.
somebody pinch me. this has been one exceptional week of squirrel hunting. I'm incredibly fortunate to have such hard working dogs. this really isn't as easy or as common as it may appear. they are just really, really talented, and I have the luxury of time to put them in the woods. I sure hope when the time comes that I can drink from the fountain of this pedigree one more time. Dreadful to have to stop hunting and go back to work, but we'll have one more hunt tomorrow. if nothing else, we maximize recreation.
Outstanding!!!! Lefty surely realizes I never lost faith in him. Likely the reason he stepped up his game. Perhaps it was the horrid thought of him moving to Highland County... regardless, I’ll take credit. You’re welcome. 😁
Over the years we've had some pretty damn good hunts on the last day of the season. The squirrel hunting gods have smiled down upon us this week like never before. We had another spectacular day today. The Goof and I started on a small piece of private ground that is loaded with rats. We got 6 there in less than two hours. Once you cover all of it, you're pretty much done for the day, and we covered all of it, shooting the last squirrel exactly where we started. Our plan was to hit that spot, knowing it's only an hour or two hunt, then head to some public ground and finish the day. we did stop long enough to skin six squirrels and pile into one vehicle for our drive to the public ground. I decided to go visit a spot along the river that I've only visited one time this year. Turns out that I chose wisely. We hunted as far north as we could go and got two more, plus went to a couple of dens. We went the other direction and got the last four. We did stretch this hunt further than I've ever walked south along the river, and was pleasantly surprised with the amount of huntable ground that I had never stepped foot on. We only did this because Slick got so far ahead of us and found squirrel number 12, which we had to go after. The weather wasn't fabulous, but there was no wind to speak of, and the light snow didn't bother us, the dogs, or the squirrels enough to matter. The Goof actually shot pretty good today, and so did I. 10 out of 12 were good head shots, and I made a couple of nifty off-hand shots, too. We only had one squirrel get away today, and that was because it was a double on one of Lefty's trees. One rat fled, the other held tight and got dead. We only went to handful of dens today. We always go to at least a few, but today it seemed like less than usual. The dogs both hunted extremely well. Did me proud on our last romp. It's almost like they somehow knew this was our last real hunt of the season. The dogs treed a total of 15 squirrels today. Lefty got 6, Slick got 9. The dogs each treed one squirrel on our way back to the truck after we had killed our limit. Lucky squirrels, those two. The only day I didn't kill a limit of squirrels this week was on Monday, but we got 5 that day, and Wednesday when I rested the dogs and took my bow to the woods. A phenomenal week of squirrel doggin' capped off with one of our best hunts of the season. I hate that it's over, but I couldn't have scripted a more enjoyable week of squirrel hunting behind my dogs, and that is what this thread is really about; the dogs. The joy they bring to me is beyond words (no matter how aggravated I get with them). These two are quite a pair. a pretty tired pair now. Thanks for hangin' with us. It has been fun sharing our season.