I took a stand this morning for deer hunting on the west bank of the creek about 75 yards west of my food plot. The spot is a high bluff about 25 feet above the creek at a popular deer crossing.
As I leaned against a large pine tree awaiting sun up, I heard a noise to my left and behind me. I eased around to catch a glimpse of a fast moving squirrel dart across the ground for cover behind an oak. Staying motionless, the squirrel soon reappeared. Although I was using my shotgun today and had an ammo belt with plenty of squirrel shot, I decided to let the beast roam free so as not to disturb my deer hunt with a gunshot.
I ignored the squirrel, despite the fact he was making an incredible amount of noise in the early morning stillness rustling the leaves around looking for acorns and jumping here and there on the bushes and fallen limbs. This was a young squirrel and he was only about 10 to 15 yards from me. Due to me not moving, he became bold enough to soon come see what I was doing sitting in his territory. He ran across a downed pine until he was about 3 or 4 yards away. Satisfied that I still was not moving, he then resumed his normal scrounging for food.
Soon another squirrel arrived, chased the young squirrel around for a few minutes, and then bridged to the other side of the creek via a handy leaning tree. The young squirrel however saw me move a little to watch the other squirrel leave and that did it. He began to scold me for all he was worth.
So I decided to have some fun with Mr. Squirrel. I stayed perfectly still and began mocking him with some squirrel chatter of my own. This aggitated him considerably. I cannot make every sound a squirrel makes with my mouth but I can do several of them. While I am not sure what any of the squirrel noises actually "say" in squirrel language, I kept up a steady stream of various squirrel chatter and other noises while the young squirrel scolded me. When he paused, I paused. When he chattered, I chattered back at him.
This probably was the first time that young squirrel had ever seen a human in his part of the woods and he was completely baffled as to why the large creature sitting below him was chattering like a squirrel. It got him pretty upset actually. He began bouncing around from one tree to another and back, or running out on limbs to get a view of me from different angles, and to try to make me move. I never moved but chattered at him whenever he made noise.
He became so intrigued that he soon stopped the scolding chatter and switched to several of the low, quiet small noises squirrels make to each other. I gave him a few of those back too. That really blew his mind! He became so curious about me that he began coming closer. He obviously knew I was not a squirrel and he was scared to get too close, but as I continued to coax him with the "private" sounds squirrels rarely make to humans, he grew bolder.
He jumped slowly but steadily from limb to limb and tree to tree until he was in the tree my foot was resting against. I still did not move. The only thing moving was when my eyes blinked. I had a full face mask on so he never saw my mouth move either. All he heard was noise and all he saw was me stone still except for my eyes blinking and moving to follow him.
This squirrel became very nervous due to being so close to me. He was perched about 10 feet up in the tree my feet were up against and looking down at me. He would peer hard from one side of the tree, move to the other side and peek around, climb up or down a little, move onto a limb and back, but always looking intently at me. I still softly made some noises from time to time and the squirrel would make a few too. While he sounded much more realistic with his noises than I did, my responses were good enough to at least get his curiosity working.
He decided to move down the tree trunk until he was about 5 feet from me. I still did not move. He lost his nerve and beat a hasty retreat back up to the first limb. He peeled some bark off the tree and chewed it nervously. Then he move a couple feet and chewed on the limb itself. Chewing the bark calmed his nerves and he then hopped onto the big pine tree beside me. I waited until he went behind the tree and move my head to where I could see him better.
He played peek a boo by darting from one side of the big pine to the other and peering around the tree. Finally he grew confident enough with me staying still and making coaxing squirrel noises to come down to the base of the pine tree. At that point, he was no more than 2 feet from me. Although I did not move, I did keep a close eye on him in case he decided to jump onto my head.
Most people have never had the experience of "talking to the animals" using their own sounds, much less being able to coax a wild squirrel who may never have seen a human before to within 2 feet. It can be done; I did it this morning just for amusement while watching for deer.
There are a lot of secrets to getting animals close to you, and the most important one is to remain perfectly motionless and let their own curiosity work to bring them closer. Move only when they cannot see you move, if possible. It also helps to learn several of the sounds they make and realize that animals ordinarily communicate in very soft, low tones to each other. They reserve the loud, alarm sounds for when they detect danger, such as humans. Animals, like squirrels, have extremely keen hearing and eyesight. Thus the very smallest noises or movements are more than enough to get their attention.
My new found squirrel friend decided he had gotten close enough to me and was content with his observation of me. He then "accepted" me as having a place in his world and simply climbed back up to the tree where my feet were propped and sat on a limb. This time, however, there was a distinct difference. He no longer made any noises and was not peering down at me. He was simply enjoying the day and seem happy enough to have made a new friend.
Since he was a fairly young squirrel and still small, for my part I decided to kill and eat him another day after he grows a little more and so I returned my attention to the deer hunt as he moved off through the trees.
Small Game & Varmit hunting Talk
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