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Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

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Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby FireCloud » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:46 pm

I don't know for sure, but I have been seeing a lot of squirrels everywhere on my land this year. Last year, the squirrels seemed to be much less in number but this year it looks like a good crop of young squirrels are doing well and getting fat like this one.

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I saw six of them in my side yard under the oak trees digging for acorns one day this past week. The three hawks that patrol up and down the creek running through my land do keep a sharp eye out to see if they can pick one of the squirrels off for dinner. I think the hawks really decimated the young squirrel litters last fall. While sitting on my patio late one afternoon recently I watched a squirrel head back to its nest for the evening. One of the hawks detected the squirrel jumping from tree to tree as it traveled along the creekbank and glided into a perch close to the squirrel. I helped the squirrel live to die another day (hopefully via my .22 this fall) by scaring off the hawk.

Just wondering how the squirrel population is looking in the other areas of the state?
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby gtk » Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:58 am

I can't tell you the last time I saw a squirrel around our house... Not enough food I guess. Not a whole lot of trees either.
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby jv » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:13 am

I hope so because i would like to do some squirrel hunting this fall.
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby Poser » Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:37 pm

Yeah, we are covered up with them, too. In Tennessee, we have a Spring squirrel season that runs from May until mid-June. It is not a very popular season because of the heat and the fact that there is so much cover for the squirrels to disappear into in the tree canopy, but I braved the hot days and bagged quite a few squirrels for summer eatin'. I am looking forward to the Fall season. Squirrel is one of my favorite game foods and hunting them is such a good time because you almost always come home with something, it can be social, and much more relaxed atmosphere than big game hunting.
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby FireCloud » Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:52 pm

I have been hoping Mississippi would enact a spring squirrel season but it has not happened so far. Realistically, there is not a valid reason to ever close squirrel season here, as even if it were open year round there would not be a significant impact on the total squirrel population statewide from hunting alone. There just are not enough people hunting squirrels anymore to do them any real damage. And as you say, Poser, most people are not too keen on suffering in the summer heat and fighting off snakes, bugs, etc. merely to hunt a few bushy tails.

The concept of "open" and "closed" seasons for most small game species needs to be reconsidered and changed to allow hunting year round for squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, possums, crows, frogs, and the like. Given that only 7% of the total population in our state hunts ANYTHING at all, and far fewer hunt most of the species I have named, there is no need to "conserve the resource" as the wildlife people are fond of saying by protecting these species from hunting. Hunting is just not affecting the population enough to justify ever closing any of these game seasons.

And frankly, there is a lot of wisdom to having a year round raccoon, possum, crow, etc. season as when someone does get a chance to shoot a few of these animals at an odd time of the year they are definitely doing turkey hunters and others a huge favor in doing so. But if it is not legal to hunt them, most ethical hunters won't shoot them "out of season." In my opinion, the turkey population would benefit greatly from whittling down the number of raccoons, crows, and possums particularly before nesting season starts. But as it is now, if a turkey hunter sees a raccoon. crow, or possum raiding a nest while he is out turkey hunting he cannot legally shoot them as the seasons are closed in order to protect these creatures. I'd like to see a poll as to how many people, sportsmen or otherwise, really want to protect crows, possums, and coons versus how many would rather reduce the populations of these critters by year round open hunting seasons.

As for rabbits, squirrels, and the like, they rate of reproduction for these critters is so high that I seriously do not believe you could do any real damage to them even if you put a bounty on their hides. And exactly who in their right minds would believe we could eliminate frogs even if we hunted them year round?

But of course the "status quo" has existed for so long with the concepts of open and closed seasons to "conserve the resource" that the wildlife people just cannot imagine doing it any other way. Consequently no one does any serious research regarding the effects of having a year round season on these animals. We don't do a census to determine the true population, the birth and death rates, and the numbers taken by hunters. So really we don't know squat about the actual basis upon which decisions are being made as to when to open seasons on these animals, how long they should be open, or even what the bag limits should be. We just do it like we have always done and figure it has worked so far thus it must be ok.

We have steadily made changes over the years to the deer season to increase the opporunity for sportsmen to hunt deer more, bag more deer, and use more weapons. But when it comes to the small game seasons, we simply ignore applying the same principles of game management that recognize increasing numbers of animals versus decreasing numbers of hunters should spell longer, more generous hunting seasons.

Ok, sermon's over :D ...but it was my thread so I decided to expound a bit on it when the concept of a spring squirrel season was brought up. It's a great idea and I hope we can eventually get one.
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby Poser » Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:41 am

I see your point, Firecloud. It would definitely be nice if squirrel season in MS at least opened up before bow season. October seems proportionally late compared to other Southern states for squirrel season. A year around season would be even better. As you said, the hunting numbers for small game is extremely low anyway and most hunters will not brave heat or cold to hunt squirrel, so most squirrel hunting would happen during the currently established seasons as it is. A few hardcores would venture out, maybe a few more deer hunters would hunt squirrel since they can do it outside of deer season, and it would be fun to go turkey hunting and pop a few squirrels while you are out since turkey hunting tends to be a empty handed affair more times than not :)
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby LadyHunter » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:12 am

I know here on the farm we seem to have a bumper crop of squirrels! I have them in the yard and now they are in the peach and apple orchard. Not good, I have declared war!!
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby FireCloud » Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:18 pm

Poser, thanks for the input. Like you, I love eating the tree rats. Nothing like some squirrel smothered in gravey, some hot rice, and a plate of home made biscuits to dip in the gravey. I steamed what I think is maybe the last pack of squirrel I had in my freezer tonight and enjoyed them greatly. Hate to see them run out, but I am eager to refill the freezer with them whenever the state sees fit to allow me to shoot them. It's a sad day when you own land and cannot legally harvest food from it that you actually eat. Our society was founded upon the land and nature's bounty provided by the land was considered a blessing. Now it is merely a money making adventure for the state to control. Sad indeed.

Ladyhunter, by the time legal shooting season arrives (according to when the state says it is) in 3 more months, the squirrels will have won the war you declared by stripping the trees of your fruit. Sorta like the crows in one of my other posts; all you can do at this time of the year is watch them eat.

According to the state, you must let the animals eat your food at will until the state says you can legally kill them. That way, when you have no food left to eat because the animals helped themselves to your food, you can get a job somewhere, work and pay taxes to support the government folks that won't let you harvest animals from your own land, and spend the money you earn to buy commercially raised food shot through with growth hormones, chemical preservatives, and containing far more fat and cholesterol than you need to intake.

The alternative would have been to kill some squirrels, then eat them along with the fruits you saved from the squirrels, thereby eating very healthy and avoiding becoming an obese health risk the state taxpayers must take care of under some "health care law." But who in the state government would want that? Obviously NOT the people who write the game laws!!! That's why I crusade over and over to fire most of the game management people we have on board now and hire some with plain common sense and an appreciation for our heritage of "living off the land."

I've made my case over and over that the game laws, especially for seasons. bag limits, etc. on most of the small game I listed earlier in this thread, are woefully obsolete and throwbacks to a time when game was (assumingly) less plentiful (although that is very doubtful in most cases.) And thus, since there is NO GOOD REASON to not, for example, have a crow season year round, it defies all logic for only being able to shoot these pests legally during a certain few weeks of the year. Exactly who, pray tell, really wants to increase the number of crows we have anyway? I guess there may be one or two "crow lovers" out there but they are few and far between as compared to those who would happily shoot them any time year round. Who's cheering for increasing the number of possums? Are there really any "Eat More Possum" fans left?

What we really need is a Governor that is willing to appoint a set of Game Commissioners that don't think like those we keep getting in those positions. We need a set of game commissioners that will start fresh, make some new game laws that make sense, and which are based on SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH and not upon how it has been done in the past. If the scientific research shows that having open season on small game will not seriously diminish the population, then we should have year round seasons. It is just that simple. Base the laws on what is proven fact...not on opinions, beliefs, whims, politics, etc.

On my small 20 acres of land I have customarily killed about 100 squirrels, more or less, every year for the past 3 years I have owned the land. The hawks, owls, snakes, and other predators kill some too. And of course some squirrels just don't survive for other reasons (disease, old age, etc.) I would hazard a guess that at least another 100 die from all these other causes every year. That math works out to about 10 squirrels being taken per acre, yet the annual rate of replenishment at least equals or exceeds the death rate every single year as best I can tell.

I really don't how many squirrels would have to be killed each year before there was noticable depletion of the total squirrel population however it appears to be more than 10 per acre. I'm sure some statistical research already is out there which would document how many can be harvested from an established population per acre. It would be interesting to see how many can be harvested. I'm thinking the number would be far higher than we would think.

Given that squiirrels are in every part of the state, in both rural and urban areas, and thrive anywhere there are trees of nearly any kind, it is readily apparent that eradicating or even making a dent in the squirrel population by hunting them is a nearly impossible task, given the limited number of people who squirrel hunt. Like I say, there is NO VALID ARGUEMENT that I have heard presented as to why we cannot have a spring squirrel season or even a year round squirrel season. It's merely politics with the legislature and various sportsmen groups (like some turkey hunters) who don't want anyone hunting in the woods during turkey season which prevent this from happening.

As someone who resents government taking way our freedoms, my belief is that government should NEVER limit a priviledge enjoyed by its citizens unless there is a very valid reason to do so. And in the case of squirrel or other small game seasons, a valid reason is just not there. Thus, what govenment should be doing is restoring our freedoms to hunt and kill animals year round (especially on private land you own!) unless there is a DANG GOOD REASON not to!!

I have pointed out many times that we can have fishing season all year long because there are plenty of fish to catch. By the same logic, if there are plenty of small game, we should be able to hunt for them all year long. We control fishing via creel limits and we can and should control hunting via bag limits. If you properly set bag limits and enforce the laws accordingly, there is no valid reason to ever close any hunting season really.

I know that some don't like the idea of killing animals during a reproductive cycle. However we do that now all the time, just as we catch fish during their reproduction cycle. Many deer for example have already been impregnated during the rut but we still hunt and kill them anyway after the rut ends. Since it is more difficult to tell that a doe is carrying unborn fawns early in the cycle, we don't see the evidence very often of the destroyed fawns yet statistically nearly every doe will be impregnated by the end of deer season in Mississippi. Thus if anyone shoots a doe after the rut, they will very likely be destroying one or more fawns in the process. That is a simple fact.

Therefore there is no reason to not shoot that doe in June, for example. The fawns that would die then will be just as dead as if the same doe carrying the same fawns had been shot in January. The only way to prevent shooting animals during their reproduction cycle is to set seasons at times when they are clearly not in reproduction. But with many animals that is virtually impossible to do. So we kill them while pregnant and ignore that fact because it is politically incorrect to advocate that idea.

I am not one who cares whether we kill the animals early or late in their cycle. As said, they are just as dead either way; it makes no difference. Accordingly, if you get past the incorrect idea that we don't want to kill animals during their reproduction cycle and understand we do it now, then that removes the only really common objection to having year round seasons. Mostly that idea is only championed by the "anti" hunting crowd anyway. Most hunters understand the reality of what we do already and realize that to set up seasons when there is no chance of killing an animal carrying unborn babies would severely limit hunting in general.

I say its time we started thinking and acting logically when it comes to our game laws. A good first step would be to enact year round game seaons for most of the small game. Or at the least we should reclassify some "game" animals to nuisance animals and thereby allow hunting or trapping 24/7/365 for them. Crows, possums, and raccoons all can go on the nuisance animal list as far as I am concerned. And while we are moving animals from the "protected by seasons or laws" list to the "Nuisance" classification, we need to add some more nuisance animals to the list, such as armadillos, poisonous snakes, alligators, and the like.

Whew,....now that I got all that out of my system, I feel much better! :D
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby Poser » Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:31 am

Firecloud,

Check this list out of Steve Rinella's top 5 North American game meats:
http://www.americanhunter.org/articles/americas-best-game-meats/

Squirrel makes number 1 on the list.

One of my favorite ways to eat squirrel is braised. I also enjoy some of the more traditional dishes such as squirrel meat pie) found in 1960s editions of The Joy of Cooking. If you get later editions of the book, the game recipes are removed.

As for the state politics of it, I am not really in a position to complain as a MS non resident. Every state has oddball laws and seemingly strange, complex, archaic and sometimes outdated management practices. The most important thing for a state wildlife agency to do is to do their best to make sure all types of hunters are happy: Meat hunters, small game hunters, bird hunters, waterfowlers, trophy hunters, dog hunters, hog hunters, falconers, etc. States that go single handedly in the direction of trophy hunting, really squeeze out many types of other hunters, for example.

I live 20 minutes from the state line and hunt in MS quite a bit. I tend to hunt in TN more, but I do hunt quite a bit there and have invested interest. If I, as a non resident, am allowed the forum to complain about a game law it would be the following:

A non-resident may not kill antlerless deer except on lands he owns or on lands where he leases the hunting or fishing rights,

That is a bizarre bit of legislation for a state with 2 million deer. For my non resident tag, WMA permit, spring turkey, and fishing license, I pay ~$600 a year and am not allowed to shoot does. I only bring this up because, in my interactions with MS resident hunters, most seem unaware and a bit perplexed that this law exists.

My other observation is that there seems to be a general lack of enforcement of the antler restrictions. Personally, I do not shoot juvenile bucks, however, I have no problem with others shooting juvenile bucks. In TN, there are no antler restrictions and I see people shoot button bucks, spikes and 2.5 year old 4 points all of the time. However, in MS, I can't tell you how many times I have watched a buck that does not meet the minimum restriction move through an area I am hunting only to hear a gunshot moments later, even on public land.

Again, it does not ethically bother me, and I would let those bucks walk anyways, but if you are going to have restrictions, they should be enforced. This is not really a complaint, but an observation.
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby FireCloud » Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:30 pm

I agree with all the points you made Poser. They are very valid observations. Mississippi gets a lot of revenue from non-resident license sales and there is no valid reason why the taking of any game be it a doe or any other animal should be based on the place of residence of the hunter. That is idiocy at work (and politics...wait...maybe that is one and the same thing!) :D

I don't moderate the forum but in my time here I have never seen any restrictions regarding the rights of our non-resident forum member to post on any subject just as a resident does. My understanding is the forum is an open discussion area for all members. Post responsible and I doubt anyone will mind what comments you offer, even if they disagree with your viewpoints. People disagree with mine all the time. It is done in a civil and respectful way on this forum and that is part of what makes it a great one!

As for enforcement, there is no question that antler laws cannot be effectively enforced given that we have no "checkpoint" or tagging system in place on private lands at least and on some public lands and people can remove and transport deer at will without anyone ever knowing.

The trick being done here is when people shoot an illegal small rack buck, they simply cut off the head and leave it in the woods somewhere. Then there is no evidence to prove what the rack was left on the carcass they are transporting. So even if someone knows a hunter killed an illegal buck they have to find the head in order to prove it.

Game wardens do try to monitor their territories I am sure but there are too many hunters scattered too widely to even begin to catch those who might shoot an illegal buck except every now and then when they happen to get lucky. Thus the laws are really worthless as they only regulate the behavior of the honest hunters. Unfortunately, the percentage of hunters who break one or more game laws habitually (shooting illegal bucks, baiting, poaching, tresspassing, and countless other laws) is quite high. Complete obedience to the game laws has always been very problematic in Mississippi as mostly people here "do what they want to" when they hunt. It is a long standing tradition especially on private land.

The laws are slowly but surely being "loosened" to allow private landowners to pretty much "do what they want to" as the state has come to realize it lacks the dollars, manpower, and perhaps even the political willpower to strickly enforce game laws against landowers, especially large landowners.

It's coming down more and more here to being "all about the money and the politics" rather than being about ethics, sportsmanship, wise game management, or anything of that sort as it should be.
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby gtk » Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:42 pm

Poser, where you from? Memphis? I stays just south of Olive Branch..


FireCloud wrote:I don't moderate the forum
I thought i made u moderator one time.... ?

FireCloud wrote:My understanding is the forum is an open discussion area for all members.
Correct !
FireCloud wrote:People disagree with mine all the time. It is done in a civil and respectful way on this forum and that is part of what makes it a great one!

I had some smart elick comment that wasn't civil or respectful, and danged if I didn't backspace and loose it.. .Oh well.. :welcome:
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby FireCloud » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:12 pm

GTK, I was NOT hinting or asking for more work as a moderator! :D
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby Poser » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:46 pm

GTK,

Yes, I live in Memphis. I hunt quite a bit in the Arkabutla area of Desoto County and in Upper Sardis WMA. I do have access to one small private property that backs up to Arkabutla land. The land owner leases me the hunting rights for $1 a year so that I can legally shoot does on it.
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby LazyGhost » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:08 pm

FireCloud wrote:GTK, I was NOT hinting or asking for more work as a moderator! :D


If things ever get dull around here you could make me a moderator. I guarantee ya id liven things up! :rotflol:
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby BigRic » Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:44 am

LazyGhost wrote:
FireCloud wrote:GTK, I was NOT hinting or asking for more work as a moderator! :D


If things ever get dull around here you could make me a moderator. I guarantee ya id liven things up! :rotflol:


:shock: she won't let you be a mod.. :W: :stir:
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby LadyHunter » Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:15 am

BigRic wrote:
LazyGhost wrote:
FireCloud wrote:GTK, I was NOT hinting or asking for more work as a moderator! :D


If things ever get dull around here you could make me a moderator. I guarantee ya id liven things up! :rotflol:


:shock: she won't let you be a mod.. :W: :stir:


:shock: :pop:
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Re: Lot's Of Squirrels This Year

Postby LazyGhost » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:49 pm

BigRic wrote:
LazyGhost wrote:
FireCloud wrote:GTK, I was NOT hinting or asking for more work as a moderator! :D


If things ever get dull around here you could make me a moderator. I guarantee ya id liven things up! :rotflol:


:shock: she won't let you be a mod.. :W: :stir:


What u tryin to say? :gas:
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