Monday, February 16, 2009
Getting to know you.
A little while back, Patrick, over at Terrierman, had a really good post. You can find the whole thing here. Basically, it boiled down to the fact that hunting takes time. It takes knowledge. It takes a willingness to learn about the game you want to hunt. It is easy to kill, anyone can do it with nothing more than a sharp stick. But what takes time and energy is the hunt. Finding the right habitat, learning how your quarry moves, works, lives. Where does it den, how does it get to its feeding grounds?
Around here, squirrels will often build their nests in one place, and go to another to forage. you see sign of them everywhere if you care to look. A grey squirrel lives in a leaf nest, called a drey. Sometimes they will build nest, either alone, or communally, in a hole in a tree, a birdhouse, the roof of a barn. They line their nests with leaves, needles, fur.
One of the most obvious signs of squirrel habitation are the middens they leave behind. Around here, squirrels will often eat pine cones, stripping them in an attempt to get at the pine nuts whithin. They leave the empty shells behind.
Often times there will be one male, who lives alone, but will travel as much as a mile radius to visit all of the lady squirrels that live in the area.
Squirrels are one of the few animals that can descend a tree forward. This is because they can trun their wrists around backwards so that they can hold on. Squirrels are not afraid to drop from dizzying heights. It happens all the time when they are being hunted by the birds. They leap, spread their legs like a flying squirrel and guide themselves, using their tail as a rudder. And squirrels are dangerous. I know they look cute, and are furry, and frisky, but they have teeth like razors. They fight, and they fight hard. One wrong bite and and the squirrel can slice a hawk's toe off. Already this year, Tess lost half a talon to a squirrel chomping it off.
We had some guests with us a while back, and they were surprised at how smart, and tough, and tricky, that squirrels could be. They learned to appreciate the quarry. If you learn nothing while hunting, you shouldn't be out there. Every time I hunt, I see, or learn something new.
If you deer hunt, or elk hunt, or pig, or fish, it doesn't matter - you need to learn about your quarry. Most people won't take the time. They will be all the richer, if they do.