Journal Entry 11/28/14 “Fox Squirrel Friday”

Seeing as we haven't hunted our fox squirrel sanctuary all year, there was no better day than the day after Thanksgiving to give it a try.  Brad and I were hoping to make it in the woods by twilight, but we actually pulled into the property just after.  By the time we settled into the woods it was just before 7am.  Temperature was a bit chilly at 29 degrees.  We settled almost in the same positions as we did the previous year.  Both of us took a fox squirrel each in the same location in 2013, and as you'll read, things played out almost the same for this year.

After picking our spots, we deployed our chairs and let things settle down.  By the time 7:30 am rolled around neither of us had seen nor heard a squirrel.  I told myself, we'll give it 15 more minutes and then we are gonna try another spot.  Fox squirrels tend to rise later than gray squirrels do, and with no gray squirrel movement we both were getting a little anxious.  Shortly after checking my watch I caught movement to my left.  A branch of a water oak tree began to shake.  There was zero wind at the time so I knew it must be a squirrel.  I slowly moved from my seat to the ground in front of me to better use my shooting stixs.  The squirrel then moved from the neighboring water oak into a pine tree.  She was attempting to collect a pine cone for breakfast.  From first sight all I could tell was this was an all black fox squirrel, of which I had already taken that color phase.  North Carolina only allows one fox squirrel per day in certain counties, and ten fox squirrels per season.  Color phase wasn't going to stop me from taking this squirrel at a distance of 25 yards.  The squirrel suspended itself from a pine branch and hung upside down to reach for a pine cone.  By this time I was already settled into my rifle and had made the needed adjustments in parallax and magnification.  I knew at this distance I needed to aim low, as subsonic rounds shoot about 1/2" high at this distance.  When the shot broke there was a resounding thud and the squirrel hung motionless.  I cycled another round in case it was needed.  The squirrel then loosed its grip and fell to the forest floor.  The shot entered her neck and exited midway of the ribs.  I was attempting a head shot but was just off of my mark, nonetheless the shot was effective and humane.

11-28-14 Nate's Tri-color Fox Squirrel

 

After letting Brad know it was a fox squirrel, we met in-between our spots to discuss what had happened.  As we were talking things over, I caught movement in a water oak that was directly in front of my original position.  "Brad, Brad!"  I exclaimed in a low tone.  "There's another fox squirrel!"  Much to both of our amazement's there was a larger fox squirrel headed our way.  Problem was that, number one I broke the rule of leaving my rifle and stix at my seat (not that I could shoot this squirrel), and two there were zero trees in our immediate vicinity for Brad to brace on.  I went on film duties.  We wanted to move but didn't want to spook the squirrel.  Brad didn't want to free hand the shot so I told him to brace on my shoulder for more stability.  This fox squirrel made his was through a series of trees, into the water oak just behind my original spot.  The squirrel posted up in one of the main crotches of the water oak to survey his surroundings.  His positioning left Brad with no opportunity at a body shot, this one would be head only.  I'd say the shot was around 25 yards, and we were lucky the squirrel never spotted us.  I was on the squirrel and Brad braced the rifle slightly on me.  Brad broke the shot and the massive fox squirrel somersaulted out of the tree.  It was a perfect, just under the ear, head shot.  One of Brad's best shots of the season.  The RWS Subsonic hollow point struck accurately and effectively.  We were still in shock that this squirrel never spotted us, and for consecutive years we had bagged double fox squirrels in essentially the same spot.

11-28-14 Fox Squirrel Double2

We collected Brad's kill and inspected his shot placement.  What a giant squirrel!  Then I made my way down to mine.  As Brad was filming me lift the squirrel up, he began to say "What a beautiful black, eh."  What we both thought was going to be a completely black fox squirrel turned out to be what I call a tri-phase fox squirrel, basically having three different colors.  It's a color phase I've always wanted to take, and with the squirrels stomach region facing me when I broke the shot I had no idea what the back color was.  I was very excited upon gathering the squirrel up.  Certainly gonna be another trip to the taxidermist in early spring.

11-28-14 Brad's Fox Squirrel

We decided after "tagging" out on fox squirrels that we would cover the area for gray squirrels.  It took us a while to come upon the first.  The wind began to pick up after 8am which we thought discouraged movement.  When we did finally come upon a couple of squirrels, I spotted the first silhouetted perfectly on a pine tree enjoying a pine cone.  I plopped down and settled into my shooting stix.  This was going to be one of those "classic" shots.  I parallaxed the range at 30 yards and the squirrel came in nice and clear.  I placed the crosshairs on the head and began to squeeze.  With a echoing thud I struck right where I was aiming.  Another squirrel had either seen or heard what had just happened and began to screech.  Once I found him I tried to get Brad on him.  By the time this happened the squirrel disappeared, not to be seen again.  The only other squirrel we saw was another large fox squirrel, feeding in a pine, next to a field edge.

11-28-14 Morning Solo Gray

The afternoon took us to a gray squirrel only area.  We decided we would set up within 20 yards of a hardwood creek bottom to see what would happen.  From a previous hunt, we had heard lots of calling in this area.  We also knew of a den tree that was frequented, close by.  Wasn't too long before I spotted movement across the creek.  I tried to get in position for a shot, but there was too much scrub brush in the way.  The squirrel headed in Brad's direction.  He prepped for the shot, by steadying his rifle on the tree he sat behind.  He missed the shot and I tried to find the squirrel to take a shot, but no luck.  We decided in the following minutes that there wasn't enough activity here.  We then moved toward the front of the property.  Upon reaching that area we caught movement.  Two squirrels hurried to a nest in a water oak tree.  Well shucks, I guess we'll go home skunked.  About that time a third squirrel headed to this water oak.  I was prepared for this squirrel.  The first shot, the squirrel was transitioning between trees and I just missed.  Once the squirrel made the water oak, it settled on the main trunk.  I had been tracking the squirrel in the scope the entire time.  When the squirrel stopped, I made my shot, and down it came.

11-28-14 Solo Afternoon Gray

The sun was setting quickly and that made this our last squirrel of the day.  It was an enjoyable day, and we are truly blessed with every opportunity we have a chance to chase squirrels.  Until next time.....

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Michael December 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

It sounds like y’all had a great hunt. Congratulations. We don’t have many fox squirrels in our area. I have only seen a few in my years of hunting. I applaud your restraint in only hunting them once per season. Your conservation efforts should pay dividends of larger future populations. It is easy to see the two of you are not just hunters but also stewards of this gift from God.

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