Sunday, January 28, 2007

Freedom Fighting Squirrel Hunter - Homesteading My Way

Throughout our married life, people often comment that Bernie and I lead a very eclectic life. I'll be the first to admit that our interests, beliefs and passions cover a very broad spectrum, but I've always felt that the interest in, and often confusion about, the way we live is really based on stereotypes to which others cling. I see no contradiction in fighting for freedom and liberty, holding a professional career, riding motorcycles, and homesteading all at the same time.

We spent Friday at the Capitol in Richmond. We had two bikers' rights bills (HB2585 and HB3077) scheduled for a committee hearing at 9:00AM, so we left our house in town at 5:15AM so we could get there a little early and meet with a few delegates about them before the meeting started. I also planned to meet with Delegate Lohr concerning his amendment to the NAIS bill that was introduced here in Virginia, but could not catch him in his office. After checking his office 3 times before the committee hearing and 2 times after, the legislative aide finally suggested I make an appointment. Since I will be there tomorrow to attend the Senate committee hearing for another bill (SB909), I made an appointment for 11:00AM. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

I promised to talk about the squirrel hunting planned for this weekend, and I am going to do that in the next paragraph. But as we leave the subject of Freedom Fighting, let me leave this quote with you:

If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

Winston Churchill

As I mentioned last week, Eddie planned to take me squirrel hunting on Saturday. I hunted squirrels in my youth and although I'm pretty sure I never killed one, I do remember spending time with my cousins Mark and Emory in the woods tracking down squirrel. I certainly remember cleaning and cooking them, but the details completely escape me. So it's been quite a while, to say the least, and a refresher course seemed wise, if not necessary. Bernie knows how to hunt squirrel, but being a smart man who knows how to keep peace in his marriage, he refused to be the one to teach me. So the job fell upon Eddie's shoulders. Eddie loves to hunt, so he seemed eager to be the teacher. Ok, he may have only been "willing" to teach me, but I prefer to think he was, at the very least, not dreading it.

So on Thursday night Eddie announced to me that we would be leaving to go squirrel hunting "at the crack of dawn" on Saturday morning. I didn't say anything to him, but later I commented to Bernie "You know, I see squirrel out and running around all day long. Why the heck do we have to go out at the crack of dawn on Saturday?" Bernie looked at me like I just beamed down from Mars and said "What? It's the hunter's way! If you're going to be a hunter, you have to get up early . Hunters hunt early. That's what hunters do. They get up early and they hunt." He actually said this like it made all the sense in the world. Whatever.

So I got my butt up early, dawned my Carhartt gear and blaze orange stocking cap, grabbed the shotgun and went outside to meet Eddie on one of the coldest mornings we've had this winter. We took off through the woods, Eddie leading the way. He stopped under a squirrel nest and whispered "I think I saw a tail flicker." So we stood perfectly still for about 10 minutes attempting to stare the squirrel out of the nest. Nothing happened. Finally Eddie motioned his head off to the left and we stealthily made our way to another area that looked promising. We had only gone a few yards when we heard the distinctive sound of a squirrel scurrying down a tree. Without even turning around Eddie said "He left that nest." In a matter of seconds Eddie has whirled around and BAM - fired a shot at the squirrel as it leaped from the base of the tree. BAM - the second shot stopped the squirrel dead. Literally. Wow - I was impressed. I began to question my squirrel hunting agility. We walked over to the squirrel and Eddie picked it up so we could examine our kill. She wasn't big, but she was fat. We high fived each other. I held my jacket pocket open and Eddie slid her in.

We spent another 5 hours out hunting for squirrels, but didn't see hide nor hair of another one. So we decided to go in for some lunch. Eddie informed me he thought my blaze orange cap was alerting the squirrels, so I took it off. Bernie informed us he had gone out squirrel hunting for about an hour and 1/2 and he had heard several, but never gotten a good shot at one. Eddie and I asked him where he was, and then decided we would try that area after lunch. We gobbled down a sandwich and headed back out.

Eddie decided we should split up - he pointed to and area for me to check out and he took off in another direction. I very quietly walked for a while and decided to sit on a fallen tree and to see if I could hear anything. I was there only a few minutes and I heard leaves rustling. I looked over and there was a big fat squirrel, literally hauling tail as fast as he could. I got the rifle shouldered and got a bead just ahead of the direction the squirrel was running and BAM - I shot the foot of the fallen tree just as the squirrel reached it there in safety. DARNIT! That was the only shot I got off all day long. I never did see another squirrel. As I was sitting there cursing that squirrel I heard a loud BAM. Eddie got him.

We stayed out until it was almost dark and never saw another. We called it a day and Eddie showed me how to skin and clean squirrel. He did one, and then I did one. It was actually not difficult at all. We had a feast of fried squirrel, rice and gravy, potatoes and carrots, green beans, and rolls. It was really a great meal - and I'm certain I enjoyed it the most. Even though I didn't get a kill, I did participate in the hunt and after spending the entire day out there, the squirrel could not have tasted better!

Next weekend I'm going to do a little squirrel hunting on my own. I'm not sure why there weren't too many out on Saturday, because it warmed up nicely during the day. I'll try again next Saturday and see what happens. But I'm not starting at the crack of dawn!

The bees are doing great - Bernie reports that they were buzzing around as it warmed up a bit on Saturday. I'm really starting to look forward to that honey in the early fall!

Bee free!


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