Passing it on, Comes to Fruition…..

Passing on the hunting tradition to my daughter has been something that I've always focused effort towards.  If you recall back in 2015 I wrote a post about my struggles with getting her into hunting, while maintaining my composure.  In that post I wanted to make sure other new Daddy's didn't make the mistakes I did, and offer my moments of clarity on the situation. FUN was the goal I had to achieve if she were ever going to consider hunting again. I'm happy to confirm I accomplished my goal, and I like to take you on a trip on our first successful hunts for the 2017 season.

 

The day before Thanksgiving we embarked on our first "real" mission in the squirrel woods.  That morning she bounced out of bed, and was eager to get the hunt started.  As we discussed what the day would be like in our living room, she noticed Sassy, our 10 year old mountain feist getting excited.  I really hadn't considered taking her on a hunt, because of her age and stiffness afterwards.  Anytime camo clothing goes on in the house though, it piques her interest, and she thinks it's time to go squirrel hunting.  So after my daughter begged for her to go, I gave in and said yes.  The decision turned out to be a good one.

 

We arrived about 10 minutes before sunrise, and prepped for the woods.  I brought the CZ Scout, and a single shot .410 to give her a choice for her first official squirrel.  We hadn't left the truck yet when a murder of crows flew in.  For me, anytime during squirrel season, it's crow season.  Two decided to pitch within my range, and from the edge of the tailgate, with the CZ Scout I made a solid shot with Eley Subs and down he came!  We then eased into the woods to find our crow.  

I decided to take a few pictures of us to capture these moments in time while we weren't seeing anything.  If I can give one piece of advice it's to put a camera to use during these times.  You won't get this time back, so being able to look back on it will be priceless later in life.  

 

Sassy treed not to long into our hike, but we just couldn't find where that squirrel had hidden or ran off to.  Wasn't too long after that, she treed again.  This time though we found both squirrels.  Sassy ran chopping through the woods to tree a squirrel in some pines, past a couple of mature white oaks.  Having the experience from years of squirrel hunting, I knew not to pass those oaks up without a through inspection.  Sure enough there was a squirrel in hiding mode in one of the lower crotches of the white oak.  Karleigh asked about the one Sassy was on in the pines, and I told her to let her keep barking at that one and we'd get to it eventually.  

We began to set up on the locked down squirrel, when the squirrel Sassy was on, timbered to us into the same oak our squirrel was in.  Bonus for us with two squirrels in the same tree now.  I told Karleigh at 25 yards the shotgun will be your best bet.  Confidently she replied, "Daddy, I want the rifle."  Being that she practices with the CZ's the most, I told her Ok if that's what she wanted.  I settled the rifle into the shooting stix, and let her take hold of it from there.  I coached her through what she was seeing through the scope, while being braced against her back.  I adjusted the parallax and the magnification to her liking, and let her settle in.  I told her, release your breath, and press the trigger while hovering those crosshairs on the jaw-line.  When she broke the shot, the thump of the subsonic round quickly let me know it was a hit!!!  First shot with a rifle in a wooded environment from the stix at eight years old!!  Yeah I'm still way proud of her.  At 12, I was still hunting with a 20 gauge shotgun.

Sassy then races over to our tree, not realizing her squirrel had left her long ago.  As I search the white oak for the other squirrel, Karleigh goes to collect hers.  Sure enough, just like the old man taught her, right in the noggin!  She was so excited that she had gotten her first squirrel on the first shot.  I also had accomplished what I had set out to do.  Make it fun, make it rewarding, and have a good time.  Unfortunately I missed the other squirrel with the rifle, and Karleigh sure let me hold it for missing him.  "I can't believe you missed that squirrel, Daddy!"  Under the bus I tell you.....

That was the only squirrel we took that morning.  I had a dentist appointment to get to, and one sore and tired dog!  We took the squirrel back to the house for Karleigh's first skinning lesson.  She's witnessed me skin dozens of squirrels before but I involved her in this process.

 

I'm also happy to report she has since taken three other squirrels only requiring 4 shots.  All headshots!   Two of those which will be in this years video, after the season ends.  I couldn't be more proud of her.  Starting her out with squirrels will teach her every lesson she needs to pursue bigger game in the future.  I believe she's the female version of me, and my wife agrees!  Looking forward to future adventures with my hunting buddy.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

George Zustak December 23, 2017 at 8:31 pm

Thanks Nate for sharing your heart-warming story. I can’t wait till my granddaughter and I can take to the woods together. I am looking forward to seeing more of your videos on YouTube.
George

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MARK TIPPINS December 27, 2017 at 7:29 pm

A hearty congratulations and pat on the back. I was 7 when I first knocked one out of a tall oak tree in south Georgia over 50 years ago. The fever has never left me in all those years. Cherish these precious moments and all of God’s rich blessings. The happiest of New Year to your family.

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hank hoyt December 31, 2017 at 3:44 am

Nate, Howdy;

Good for the young Lady! Also good to see you posting and with the promise of some video to follow.

Can’t wait to see it. Not many tree rats in the Sage flats of SW New Mexico where I’m living.
Hope your New Year is a good’un with lots of more squirrel huntin’.

hank

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Nate January 2, 2018 at 2:34 pm

We hope to have a really good January. Should be a pretty good collage of clips from the season. Just over 20 minutes at this point. Take care.

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