News Columns & Blogs

Opening Day, Few Hunters Afield

This is the opening day of what could be an enjoyable hunting season for thousands of Kansans. But I’d be surprised if more than a dozen sportsmen across the entire state are afield celebrating the beginning of our new squirrel season.

Part of the problem is that the words “summer” and “hunting” don’t go together for most hunters.

And summer squirrel hunting has such challenges as ticks, chiggers, sweat-soaked clothing, mosquitoes and face-wrapping spider webs.

But the major limiting factor is simply a lack of squirrel hunters in Kansas. It wasn’t always that way.

As a kid I knew quite a few guys from my Dad’s generation who enjoyed slipping through the woods with a .22 or .410. Probably eight or ten of the boys in my small high school class hunted for squirrels on a regular basis.

But the last time I tried to find someone to be the subject for a squirrel hunting article it took a lot of looking. Jerrod and his buddy, Luke Templin, are the only hunters under the age of about 25 I’ve met in many years who occassionally hit the woods for squirrels.

I guess more glamorous things like hunting for deer, ducks, and pheasants take clear precedence over for such old-time favorites as rabbits and squirrels.Kansas has some of the best squirrel hunting in the nation, but don't expect to find many sportsman afield for today's opening of the season.That’s a shame. Kansas has some great squirrel hunting on public lands, a long season that runs through Feb. 28, high success rates and squirrel hunting takes no more special equipment than a .22 or shotgun and a handful of shells. Still, hunters who like to use calls, dogs, stalking, stands and still-hunting can use those techniques on squirrels.

And yes, they are good to eat.

Hey, my Grandma’s family didn’t call them “limb-chickens” for nothing!

Several times in recent years I’ve had someone approach me with an interest in hunting but a frustration in finding good hunting lands and the costs and equipment it takes to get into deer, upland birds or waterfowl hunting.

None have taken my suggestion get try squirrel hunting.

No, I’m not just back from the woods with a quick opening day limit.

But I’ll try to go a few times before the Sept. 1 opening of dove season starts the roll of standard hunting seasons. Chance are I’ll find a lot of action and nobody else in the woods.

Like I said, that’s a shame.