Outdoors: Hunting seasons begin to open
By the time you read this, several hunting seasons, including small game and big game, have opened statewide.
As for big game, it’s muzzleloader bear season in WMUs 2B. 5B. 5C and 5D that runs Oct. 13-20. The small game list includes rabbit, grouse and squirrels with split seasons that run Oct. 13-Nov. 24; Dec. 10-24; and Dec. 26-Feb. 28. The exception is grouse that whose seasons are Oct. 13-Nov. 24 and Dec. 10-24.
This weekend, pheasant season opens and it has a split season of Oct. 20-Nov. 24; Dec. 10-24; and Dec. 26-Feb. 28. This cherished gamebird is similar to trout in that they’re essentially a put-and-take situation. The Pennsylvania Game Commission stocks birds and ones that aren’t eaten by foxes, coyotes and hawks, remain for upland hunters.
Local farmers are just beginning to take down their corn and soybean crops so depending on where the PGC stocks pheasants, it may result in a prosperous day afield, or a nice walk taken. Rest assured, state game lands are guaranteed to hold birds because that’s where the majority of them will be stocked. And rightly so, as huntable farm land is dwindling thanks to development and warehouses.
That leaves one small game species that is the most plentiful of all species. Plentiful in that female squirrels often bear yearly litters of 4-5.
Squirrels make great table fare when properly made. Their diets comprise a variety of woodland fare of acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, beechnuts, corn (only the germ at the base of the kernel is eaten), dogwood, wild cherry and black gum fruits. That’s why they probably taste so good as their meat is sweet.
Most small game hunters typically use shotguns in hunting squirrels as they’re already in the woods for grouse or rabbit. But to make the pursuit more challenging, you may want to take a scoped .22 rifle instead. This way you can aim for a head shot so as to not spoil the meat. If using a shotgun, picking out shot when field dressing squirrels is time consuming. And if missing one, may require a visit to the dentist to fix a broken filling or tooth when biting down on a piece of #6 shot.
If going the .22 route, and if I may, check out Ruger’s dandy new Ruger American Rimfire Target .22LR rifle. If you already have a .22, this one will entice you to trade yours for this most accurate tack driver.
While any .22LR will do, Ruger’s new American Rimfire Target .22LR bolt action rifle with 18-inch bull barrel, scope ready and adjustable trigger, is exceptional. If you know anything about bull barrels, they’re thicker in width to provide the ultimate in accuracy. According to Paul Pluff, Ruger Media Relations Manager, a heavier barrel does not heat up as quickly as a thinner conventional width barrel, hence it maintains accuracy better then a smaller profile one.
So once you have a few squirrels for table fare, there are a pot pourri of recipes that range from sherried squirrel with sherry or wine sauce; southern fried squirrel with gravy; or squirrel stew with two tablespoons of brandy and half cup of red wine mixed into a pot or crockpot.
And lastly, don’t discard your squirrel tails. Instead, send them to Mepps (www.mepps.com), the spinner bait fishing company who recycles them for lure dressing. They’ll buy them or trade for their fishing lures.