Blog Entries from the WeHuntSC.com blogging crew
The below blog entry is a guest blog entry by Andy Hahn:
Some folks say they hunt squirrels because it hones their stalking and shooting skills, making them better big-game hunters. Other guys tell me they only hunt squirrels because their kids enjoy it. Well, I need no such excuses. I go squirrel hunting because I love to hunt squirrels.
As a teenager in Pennsylvania I used to rush home from school, grab my single-shot 20 gauge and orange vest, and head for nearby woodlots in search of bushytails. When I was in my mid-20s, I lived in Philadelphia. Every Saturday in October and November I?d wake up at 3:30, drive to State Game Lands in south central Pennsylvania and greet the dawn on a hardwood ridge overlooking the Susquehanna River, squirrel gun in hand. My pulse always got to racing at the glimpse of a tail flicking among the branches or the sound of a small critter shuffling through fallen leaves?and it still does!
In 2006 I was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig?s disease), a neurological condition that has put me in a wheelchair and rendered my arms nearly useless. Now I hunt with the help of friends and adaptive shooting equipment. While a ?point man? handles the rifle, we watch the sight picture via a special video camera and monitor that show with a scope?s-eye view, crosshairs and all. When things look right, I squeeze the trigger with a cable release.
Three years ago my buddy Ron Wagner and I were hunting the last week of deer season at Bang?s Paradise Valley Hunting Club in Ehrhardt, SC. We commented that many of the stand sites seemed overrun by swarms of grey squirrels. ?No wonder my corn bill is so darn high!? joked the lodge owner, Bang Collins. ?Maybe you guys can help me by thinning out the rodent population.?
We needed no further encouragement. Bang lent us a Ruger 10/22 and the following day we started collecting the main ingredients for a big pot of Brunswick stew. That evening as we talked about our ?rodent-control project? I noticed a youngster listening with wide-eyed attention. Nine-year-old Klay Elixson had come to Ehrhardt with his grandfather Rick Hires, another regular visitor at the lodge with whom we?d become good friends. I asked Rick, and when he gave his permission I invited Klay to join Ron and me for a tree-rat safari.
The next dawn found the three of us in a pop-up blind, anxiously waiting for some squirrels to appear. We didn?t have to wait long. We used the Ruger and my shooting equipment, which kept everyone involved in the hunt. Ron aimed while Klay and I took turns using the cable control to squeeze the trigger. Klay displayed fine hunting skills by keeping still, spotting bushy-tails and patiently waiting for high-percentage shots. The scope camera proved an excellent teaching tool as we followed squirrels on the monitor and discussed why different situations and angles made for good or bad shot selections. Our apprentice soon earned the title of No-Playin? Outa-the-Wayin? Lead-Sprayin? Squirrel-Slayin? Machine.
Sharing our knowledge and watching a young hunter enjoy himself, Ron and I probably had more fun than Klay that morning. Time in the woods with an enthusiastic kid also showed me that despite having special needs, disabled hunters can and must take responsibility for helping pass on our outdoor heritage to the next generation.
The following season I bought a Marlin Model 917 VSCF .17 HMR, added an Alpen Kodiak 6-24x50 scope and dubbed it ?The Squirrel Eraser.? Ron, Klay and I now get together at Bang?s once a year for a tree-rat roundup.
Last year a deer hunter scoffed at our small-game pursuits: ?I don?t waste time hunting squirrels.?
?Me neither,? I replied. ?I enjoy every minute of it.?