Time to take advantage of the Illinois squirrel season while you can

Shane MalawyAs I stepped out of my house the morning of Aug. 1 with no regard of the date on the calendar only knowing that it was just another day at work, I was met with a not so distant “Boom” of a shotgun blast. Immediately I was snapped into a somber reality.

The date was August 1 and the opening day of squirrel season. In reality it was the opening day of another Illinois hunting year. The sound of the shotgun instantly took me back some 30 years ago. I couldn’t help but close my eyes and imagine that the shotgun discharge I heard was a young hunter, much like myself all those years ago, squeezing the trigger on his first bushy tail.

Some of the most memorable and exciting hunts took place for me as a youngster in the squirrel woods. I remember the anticipation in the hours before opening morning only to have my visions of my bag limit put on hold due to my mother’s worried nature. “You can’t go hunting tomorrow. There will be too many hunters in the woods.” She would proclaim about opening day. Too many hunters in the woods may have been the case 30 years ago but that doesn’t seem to be the issue lately. Fewer and fewer hunters are taking to the squirrel woods. Squirrel hunting has markedly decreased in popularity in recent years.

Most hunters that I know got their start just as I got mine. A single shot .20 gauge shotgun or a .22 rifle in pursuit of the arboreal acrobats was a rite of passage for a young hunter.  As our hectic pace takes time away from us, it’s important to remember our roots as outdoorsmen.

There are many theories as to why squirrel hunting has lost some of its allure. I’m not going to begin to offer any additional suggestions. I will only offer some food for thought. At this point in my life, I no longer count my age in years. I count my age in squirrel seasons. How many squirrel seasons I have been privileged to enjoy and how many squirrel seasons do I have left?  

How many squirrel seasons do we have left? None of us know the answer. As for me, before another season is gone, I’ll have a squirrel in my crosshairs every chance I get. 

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Illinois – Shane Malawy, Social Media

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