The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More

Friday, June 28, 2013


Summertime squirrel hunting success is often about as sure of a thing as you can find.  There's little pressure, lots of opportunity and squirrels are plentiful and available when the season opens June 1.  More often than not an experienced hunter can shoot a 5-rat limit in about 90 minutes or less if all goes according to plan.  And it does MOST of the time.  But on occasion things don't work out as evidenced by a hunt last weekend.

I was in Topeka visiting family and told my 16-year-old nephew, Dylan, we'd run out to the public hunting surrounding Perry Reservoir and try our luck chasing tree rats.  He's game for anything and has really got hooked on hunting and fishing in the last few years.  He took up trapping, too, and loves all time spent outdoors.

When my alarm went off at 5 a.m. and I opened the bedroom door Dylan was already sitting up waiting for me in the living room.  This bright-eyed approach was impressive, particularly considering he didn't get to bed until almost midnight the night prior after a doubleheader baseball game.  He was chompin' at the bit.

It didn't take us long to gather our gear and load up.  We commented on the stickiness of the air and the fact that it was already 77 degrees an hour before sunrise.  It would indeed be a muggy morning.  And it was going to get worse.

I had several maps of the public hunting areas surrounding Perry Reservoir.  I had penciled in some likely-looking spots after checking them on Google and we made our first stop.  The wind wasn't too bad when we hopped into the first stand of timber but my mood would quickly sour.

The undergrowth was intense, woolly and nearly impenetrable in some instances.  Plentiful spring rains had the vegetation lush making movement difficult at best.  After several failed calling attempts we decided to move on to another spot. 

We called and called using our squirrel distress and bark calls and didn't have much success.  We had a couple respond from way off, but nothing real close.  Finally, one fox squirrel came to investigate and after Dylan got one shot off to clear the way he connected on the second one. 

But that lone rat would be it for the morning.  We actually saw more turkeys than squirrels and we only saw 4 turkeys.  I was disappointed for Dylan.  I had gotten his hopes up and wasn't able to produce.  The timber we hunted looked like it should have squirrels every 15 yards but it just wasn't to be for whatever reason. I was perplexed and bummed as the morning wore on.   

Despite liberal dousing with bug repellent we were both chewed up with mosquito bites and ticks were crawling on us like crazy.  And it was HOT!  By mid-morning we punted and headed for cooler climates.

It was likely one of the most miserable mornings I've had in the great outdoors in recent history.  There were many other places I would have chosen to be after enduring everything else that morning. 

But Dylan was a trooper and never once complained.  He was glad to be out wandering the woods and seemed to enjoy it despite the brutal conditions and our lack of success. 

And when I jokingly asked later that day if he wanted to go again in the morning he said, "Sure!"  The kid's got it bad and that's a good thing. 


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