Sharing My Tree – A Deer Hunter’s Defense of Squirrels

Each deer season I hear at least a couple of fellow hunters
mention their frustration with the army of active squirrels
surrounding their tree stands. Typical objections to bushytails
include their “made you look” impersonations of approaching deer,
their tattle-tale manner of barking at hunters, and the occasional
“thought he was going to jump on my head” incident. While these
points have some validity, I always rush to the squirrel’s defense
and point out that they are much more of an ally than a nuisance.
Here’s my case:


1) The crashing sound of a moving squirrel is usually distinct
from the cadence of a deer’s gait, but they can fool you sometimes.
Still, the noises help to keep you alert and scanning your
surroundings so you don’t lull into a daydream (or worse yet, a
nap). Watching them is often good entertainment during the slow
periods, so it helps pass the time as well.


2) Yes, squirrels bark at you, but they also bark at everything
else – especially deer. Deer get barked at everywhere they go, and
my opinion is that a barking squirrel is more apt to tweak a deer’s
curiosity about what other deer may be around than make him wary of
the area. Plus, a squirrel’s tendency to bark makes it the perfect
early warning system. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve
been prepared for silently approaching deer or tracked the
movements of deer through the woods just by being mindful of where
and how squirrels are barking. And it works the same for those
sneaky, quiet toms in the spring turkey woods as well.


3) OK, nobody likes the thought of having a surprised rodent
land on their noggin or in their lap, so when they come racing
through your tree without paying attention and get in point-blank
range, it can seem a little unnerving. Still, a hateful hiss and a
little eye contact usually gets their attention and sends them back
the direction they came from, and you have to admit that the look
on their faces when they realize what they almost stepped on is
always good for a laugh.


I say the more the merrier, but if I still haven’t convinced
you, squirrel season is open until February 15.

Categories: Illinois – Jay Nehrkorn

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