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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Oftentimes reading the words "kids" and "guns" in the same sentence in mainstream media is cause for concern, particularly these days.  It's sad, really, as firearms aren't bad.  They play an integral part in hunting's heritage and the outdoors.  Guns are necessary to take small and big game, waterfowl and upland birds and kids and adults have been doing it nearly accident-free for decades. 

You can bet any adult hunter remembers their first firearm and many of them likely still own it whether it's a beat-up, rusty old pump shotgun or something a little nicer.  Even if it's been "retired" it likely still has a place of honor in a gun cabinet with fond memories recalled every time it's handled.

My first gun was a Savage over-and-under with a .22 rifle barrel on top and a .410 shotgun barrel below.  It had a hammer and could only be cocked with my dad's permission.  That made shooting at escaping pheasants or quail nearly impossible so bagging the occasional rabbit, squirrel or hedgeball was the highlight of many early hunts. 

Up until this summer my twin boys and I shared a .22 rifle for squirrel hunting.  Or more accurately, I'd tag along and supervise their use of the firearm and they'd try their hand at shooting squirrels.  The boys turned 16 years old this spring and they were ready for their own firearm.  So I bought a Savage Mark II bolt action .22 for them to share (another pitfall of being a twin) when we hunted as both boys don't often go on the same hunt.  And frankly Cody's interest in hunting is higher than his brothers right now so in effect it became "Cody's gun."

Cody was excited about the new gun and helped sight it in.  A nice scope was included and the combination would no doubt be perfect for squirrel hunting.  The accu-trigger took a bit of getting used to in practice but it shot nice groups.  Cody couldn't wait to try it out on a recent, muggy morning.

We eased into the timbered creek bottom right after first shooting light and hit the squirrel call.  Immediately, we got a response from two different squirrels.  Unfortunately, Cody was screened from them and couldn't shoot.  I killed them both and we eased down the creek.

Cody would shoot the next five squirrels in nearly as many shots as the action was consistent over the next hour.  Even squirrels at quite a distance fell to his .22 and it was apparent we had it dialed in pretty good.  He remarked how much he liked "his" new gun with words like "sweet" and "awesome."  It's amazing what success does for confidence.    

Ol' dad finished up with his 5-squirrel limit shortly and we shot a few photos.  We cleaned all 10 squirrels at a low water crossing in a scenic Flint Hills stream and placed them in a cooler for the ride home. 

The next evening both boys and I dined on fried squirrel, fruit salad and a big ear of fresh sweet corn.  Everyone asks what squirrel tastes like and the easy answer is "chicken."  But even more accurately, young squirrel tastes like frog legs although everyone says these also taste like chicken.  It's a vicious circle, but good nonetheless.

Cody will continue to use this .22 on future squirrel hunts and it will likely become "officially" his at some point down the road.  Regardless, he'll remember this outing and the gun he used for years...just like every other hunter that's been down the same path in the great outdoors.