MULHERIN: The Season of Small Games;  Squirrel, rabbit and game birds open this week |  Sports

MULHERIN: The Season of Small Games; Squirrel, rabbit and game birds open this week | Sports

Once upon a time, September 15th was a holiday. Hordes of bird hunters were trampling in the woods after the grouse. Children will go straight from school to squirrel forest. Rabbits were probably left alone until winter, when they are easy to spot. Suffice to say, it was a great day.

Fast forward 50 years as we head off the youth hunt, gear up for shooting season and most of us wouldn’t think of grouse, squirrels, or rabbits.

But grouse still tastes good, and squirrels are still fun hunting (and rabbits are even more fun, once the snow is on the ground).

In this article we will focus on grouse and squirrels, primarily, because they are the most common quarries available at this time.

Partridge property

If you want to find grouse or partridge, you have to find aspen trees. It’s really that simple. These birds simply prefer aspen over any other cover. Can you find it in some mixed areas of softwood and hardwood? yes. Would you have more success if you found aspen monoculture rigs? Yes too.

So the best place to start looking for grouse is where you find aspen trees. I can hit some areas in Northwest Mason, Southeast Mason, Central Manistee and West Lake counties where you can find these stands, or you can do your own driving survey. But wouldn’t it be easier if you could research these tree groups online before you head out? I’ve written before about the Mi-Hunt app on the Michigan DNR website and we’ll do it again. This allows you to search for land by type of cover. Simply put in what you’re looking for and they’ll highlight it on the map. You can find it in www.mcgi.state.mi.us/mi-hunt/.

The other nice thing about Mi-Hunt app is that it not only shows you public land parcels, it shows you privately owned commercial forest law parcels where public hunting is legal. If you’re unfamiliar with CFA land, just know that in exchange for a tax break, landowners allow public hunting on their land.

While you’re online, you should consider subscribing to OnX Maps. This app is a GPS aerial map with property boundaries and property information. It’s an invaluable tool for your home desktop or smartphone when you’re out on a tour to survey potential fishing tackle and need to know who owns what. Note, however, that most GPS apps have a margin of error of about 20 feet, so believe what your eyes are telling you more than what your phone is telling you while out in the field near property lines.

Prepare to be stabbed

Ideally, you have a trained dog that will stay still until you tell him to drive away the birds. The second option is a dog that will run rather slowly and close to you and wash the birds for you. Down the third or fourth place is hunting with no dog at all.

Regardless of whether you have a dog or not, you’ll want good shoes with great ankle support, some type of tufted pants or chaps and a play jacket with plenty of storage space and enough orange hunters to meet legal requirements. I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend eye protection either. Breathable fabrics have come a long way, so look for newer brush-resistant shirts that will give you some protection from bumps, thorns, and insects.

When it comes to a bird hunting rifle, this is a personal choice. The 12 gauge is perfect for beginners, but for weight and sporting reasons, many people switch to 20 gauge, .410 or even 28 gauge rifles. Get plenty of shells when you find them because there is nothing sadder than an epic shooting day where you run out.

push the bird

I won’t tell anyone how to run their dog in the field, but there are some tips you can follow for those who don’t have a dog.

If there are many hunters, spread out and announce the fields of fire. For safety, never turn more than 30 degrees to either side.

Walk slowly and deliberately through the aspen stands. Some will be thick, some will not. Things that have an ideal broom diameter. If you get into the really old stuff, you’re more likely to find Woodcock than Grouse.

You need to do your best to monitor your partners. This, of course, is easiest after the first frost that will kill the fern and take a few leaves from the trees.

Grouse season, by the way, runs from September 15 through January 1, with a short break for the Venetian deer season. Daily baggage limit is 5 birds. Woodcock season runs from September 15th through October 29th with a daily bag limit of 3 birds. If you are hunting lumberjacks, your gun must be connected to limit its capacity to three rounds.

find squirrels

Squirrels seem to be everywhere so they aren’t. We are blessed with an abundance of ancient oaks in our area, so if you hunt squirrels, you live and die from a crop of oaks. This year again seems choppy, at least where I am.

But we sometimes forget that squirrels eat a variety of mast from trees, including beech nuts and maple seeds as well as some pine seeds.

Unlike grouse hunting, where computer surveys and car surveys can help you, to spot squirrels, you need to get some dirt on your shoes and find food. Look for food and you will find squirrels.

We have four species of squirrels in our area, two of which are suitable for hunting quarries. While red squirrels can be shot at any time as pests, the northern flying squirrel is small, sheltered and nocturnal. If you are looking for squirrels for your stewpot, you are looking for gray squirrels (which are also black) or fox squirrels. Both prefer mature hardwood forests.

If you can’t find old oak trees, you really aren’t trying hard. Grab a notebook and start driving east of Custer – chances are the US land you find will have some oak trees.

hunting squirrels

If you go out early in the morning and the walnuts are falling off, you can stealthily go from tree trunk to tree trunk to watch for squirrels and quickly reduce to 5. You have to get up early in the morning to get this work done, however. Later in the day, finding them becomes more difficult.

Most people shoot with a .22 or small-bore rifle, although you can also shoot them with a .22 pistol. It is important to remember safety when shooting a .22 because your bullet will travel a long distance. If you’re going to tree and shoot squirrels, stick with a shotgun—especially if you’re in an area with huts and cabins. It’s best to use shotguns and pistols to shoot squirrels that venture down their trees.

The .410/.22 caliber shotgun/rifle is a great firearm for squirrel hunting because it offers you the best of both worlds. You can get a more effective scope with a rifle, but you can fit a group of BBs with the barrel of the rifle if necessary.

Squirrel season traditionally closes at the end of January, but now runs until March 31, just like rabbit season.

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