Well, today was it. I had to stay home and wait for the plumber who was coming over around 9:00. Which worked out well, since I had to take my son to school at 7:20, leaving me over an hour and a half to finish off the season with Gonzo and Tess.
We found ourselves back at Nags Head Woods. I considered trying the ridges, but as this was my last hunt, and I only had a limited time, I opted to hunt the bottoms where I was pretty sure I would find some squirrels.
We've been here before, and it has been fairly reliable. There are squirrel nests dotting the trees, low down where I could see them. The sky was dark gray, and the temperatures were warming up. We were expecting rain. It was a great day to sneak in a hunt.
The bottoms were wet, slick , and foul smelling. I had to be careful to stay out of the muck as it could suck me down rather quickly, but the squirrels have no problem traversing these treacherous grounds. Often, we surprise them on the ground here, and the hawks follow them from above as I crash through the cane and briers.
Early on we flushed a screech owl, and then a snipe. The hawks gave chase, but the smaller birds were both more maneuverable in the thick cover, and we soon lost them.
At one point I saw something launch itself from the top of a pine and come soaring down. Tess reacted instantly, nailing it as it hit the ground, killing the pine cone dead. I just shook my head and had to laugh to myself
We saw lots of animals, or at least animals' sign.
But what we did not see today, were squirrels. We shook lots of nests, we found squirrel sign, and good habitat, but today was one of those days that we just couldn't seem to locate any squirrel.
There were two casualties.
My hunting hat got knocked off my head and fell into the water and instantly started to sink. I was able to retrieve it, though I don't think I'll wear it until it can be cleaned.
The second casualty was this half mummified squirrel. Gonzo found it on the ground as we were working our way back to the truck and killed it - again.
I can't complain though, the hawks followed close. The weather was great. It has been a fantastic season. My head count is just two shy of my all time high and I'll be hunting almost a month less than I did for that record. The hawks have worked well together, and their techniques have melded nicely. This was my first season really putting two birds together and really making a go of it, and it was a resounding success!