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Today is October 29, 2020

Outdoors

October and the beginning of hunting season

By Tony Kinton

October and the beginning of hunting season

Let the lessons begin. A father/son team waiting for beagles to head their way can be a time of bonding and instruction.

For a great many Mississippians, October spells the beginning of a long-anticipated event. That event is hunting season. This occurrence is rather broad and encompasses several species of game. Among these are squirrels, rabbits and deer. Squirrel hunting is a southern tradition. Once was the time when this game held the number one slot in popularity; that designation goes to whitetails now. Still, squirrel hunting is popular. In fact, it appears to have seen a bump in interest over the past decade or so. And this is particularly true for squirrel hunting with a dog.

There are few hunting endeavors more enjoyable than a squirrel hunt with dogs. It can be a solitary affair or can just as easily be something done in the company of others. A social gathering if you will. Dogs do the work; hunters trail along after the canines. If one pursuit is a sure bet for training, developing and introducing new hunters to hunting, it is that of going to squirrel woods with a proficient dog.

But squirrel hunting is not limited to dogs. It can be practiced with success by slipping along quietly with an eye out for squirrel activity in the timber or on the ground and an ear tuned to the shaking of limbs, the grinding sound of acorns or hickory nuts being eaten or the scolding bark of bushytails. And listen as well for the pitter-patter of hulls from nuts raining onto the forest floor.

Another approach is to enter a woodlot and sit motionless in proximity to an oak or hickory. A short scouting trip prior to the hunt or even during the hunt will reveal those trees containing mast and being used by squirrels. The hunter stationed properly can expect squirrels to be along directly.

Rabbits are another viable and generally abundant game animal available from some point in October on into the new year. Most often hunted with the assistance of beagles, rabbits can offer a solid challenge and excellent meals. Not unlike squirrel hunting with a dog, rabbit hunting is often a process involving multiple hunters and is another outstanding activity by which to encourage new hunters.

But do be careful. Always know where other hunters — and the dogs — are. Always be sure that the target is clear and know what lies beyond. Never cross fences or streams or negotiate brush piles or downed timber with loaded firearms. And always wear hunter orange.

October deer hunting is restricted to archery. That, however, is little hindrance for the practiced shooter. Positions near mast-producing trees, along the edges of agricultural crops or locations beside a woods trail are favored for those hoping to encounter a whitetail during bow season.

All the above activities are now, or will be very soon, open in October. These signal the beginning of what many consider the finest time of year and most alluring hours the outdoors offers. And it is hard to argue with that conclusion. October brings these in abundance.

 

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information.

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