There are two main reasons for this favorable fall’s forecast. In the near term, the rich tradition of squirrel hunting and gravy should both be served up in bountiful proportions. The number of squirrels, or simply stated the “population” as well as the mast situation, is what makes for such a rosy forecast.
This year’s combination of excellent squirrel numbers in combination with more modest mast works in the favor of the hunter. By mast we mean the ever important nut crops of the hickory, beech and, of course, the oak groups’ acorns. Beech and hickory are scarce and of the acorn group, there are some white, red and chestnut oaks but not a bumper crop by any stretch.
As the abundant squirrels must search further, longer and wider for sustenance, they become more readily available to predators. That includes the two-legged ones toting poke-stock shotguns.
As squirrels congregate about that more limited mast, hunters should be able to take their six per day limit with less effort. It’s not always so as most woods-wise hunters would attest. We have had excellent hard nut mast the past two years. Squirrel survival and reproduction are directly related to that nut crop. That’s why the present population is so good.
Some late killing spring frost and droughty conditions are believed to be the factors in the prevailing so-so mast situation.It’s not a mast failure the likes of the fall of 1997 or of the miserable mast of the flooding and rain drenched springs earlier this first decade of the New Millennium.
The mast and squirrel population thing come in annual doses or cycles dealt out by Mother Nature. We are all but helpless to sit back and take the cards she deals.
Back in 1997, squirrels were all but annihilated by mast failure.Folks might remember the masses of road kills and famine struck squirrels. Population were thus a bust for a while as it took a several years to recover only to be knocked back by that poor mast of the early 2000s.
Those same conditions wreaked havoc with our deer and turkeys and with a nasty winter or two thrown in for extra measure. Nevertheless, if it weren’t for the annual unknown dealings of Mother Nature, it wouldn’t be very exciting.
Squirrels are an underutilized resource and becoming more so each passing year as hunters continue to abandon them for bigger game fare. For those that still partake, the woods should be nigh all yours. Hunters generally have very little impact on the population in contrast to those stated natural world dealings.
Don’t forget the special youth squirrel hunt slated for Saturday, September 29 and the regular season opener the following Saturday, October 6. Pick up a license and regulations pamphlet at any local sporting outfit for details.
So enjoy these bountiful hunting conditions while they last.It might be some time before such sassy squirrel hunting aces are dealt again.