A reunion squirrel hunt
March 1, 2002
It had been a few months over 40 years since Doyle Blissett and I made our last hunt together. We decided that a reunion hunt was in order, so last weekend we took to the woods with his feist squirrel dog, Trixie, and relived some of those times when we hunted meat for the table.
I learned that 40 years hadn't changed Doyle's characteristic easy hunting style. Nor had time changed the kind consideration this hunter affords his hunting partners. He worked with Trixie and pulled vines to turn the squirrels for me and let me do all the shooting. We killed my limit of bushytails on a short morning hunt.
Doyle was recovering from a freak accident that left him with a bum arm. While jumping a small stream in the squirrel woods, a sharp limb was driven deep into his arm and the puncture wound was troublesome for the physician and of course for Doyle. Preventing infection was difficult as was the pain, and healing was slow. He didn't want to shoot until the arm healed, but he tramped the woods with me so we could have our reunion hunt.
Trixie, a seven-year-old that barks at tree just enough to let you know where she is, did her job well in the hardwoods. After a couple of non-productive trees where the squirrels found hollows, the little dog treed at a tall, slender oak where we were to have one of those unforgettable experiences.
Doyle could see the squirrel on his side of the tree and managed to turn it for me to make the shot. During his maneuvers, he saw a second squirrel in the tip top of the tree. I dropped the first squirrel from its well-chosen cover in some vines midway up the trunk, and then knocked out the sky high one.
In an act of curiosity, Doyle pulled a big vine that hugged the tree and a third squirrel streaked down the trunk. I rolled him with the modified barrel. Three squirrels from one tree!
We studied the limb for several minutes, Doyle becoming more convinced it was a squirrel and me becoming more certain it was only a slight deformity in the limb. I could see my partner wasn't going to leave that tree until I shot that "squirrel", so I braced the 12 gauge on a sapling and took good aim at the "bump" on that limb and fired a load of number sixes. What I did was burn the hair on a flattened squirrel and he sailed out of that tree in a swan dive that landed him half way to an old hollow tree that he reached before I could fire the other barrel. But three for four at one tree ain't bad.
Next time I won't doubt Doyle Blissett when he locates a high-rise gray stretched out on an oak limb.
Another highlight that will keep the memory of our reunion squirrel hunt sharp happened in thick timber that bordered a small creek. Trixie couldn't determine which tree the squirrel had gone up last and so Doyle was pulling vines on one after another while I stood ready at port arms. He and Trixie reached a viney tree and Doyle yanked a big vine.
Suddenly Doyle yelled, "Here he comes," and instantly I saw the biggest squirrel in the South dive out from among a viney tangle and sail 30 feet to the ground. But, as Jerry Clower would have said, "It wad'n a squirrel." It was a raccoon and it landed at Doyle's feet and tore away through the leaves with Trixie in hot pursuit. Lucky for Trixie and for Doyle, the coon won the race and got away. Had it turned on the dog we might have been on the losing team.
But nothing would ruin our hunt that morning; the squirrel hunt that reminded two old friends of days when it seemed life in the woods would go on forever.