ED GILBERT: Small game hunting is prime time now

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 11:49 pm on Friday, September 28, 2012

Some of the early firearms deer seasons are here, but if you aren’t a deer hunter and want some action, it’s also prime time for some small game hunting.

Fact is, if you have a youngster or youngsters that are also prime time for hunting, it may not be a bad idea to start them out on a few smaller game hunts.

Squirrel, rabbit or grouse hunts come quickly to mind. This sort of hunting gives a mentor the opportunity to teach a youngster about gun safety and hunting etiquette itself, unlike deer hunting where you set up basically in one place and await the arrival of your prey.

This is the opportunity to walk slowly through wooded areas or meadows, watching carefully the direction in which guns may be pointed and to direct a youngster in the art of shooting itself.

When I first began to hunt small game there was but one gun in our family. It was an old and heavy 12-gauge shotgun, and I hesitate to say it but I was almost afraid to shoot the thing for fear of landing back on my rump. Ah, but you learn!

Now there are much better guns for beginners in most hunting families. Most will have a 20-gauge around, or even a .410 shotgun or a .22 rifle. Those are very capable of use by youngsters or any beginner.

Well then, so much for beginners and guns themselves.

To the hunt!

As I’ve become older, I guess my favorite game is to hunt squirrels. That way I can walk about slowly for a ways, and then find an old stump or fallen tree and park myself for a while. Of course, I’ve discovered that it’s best to do this in an area one knows is frequented by those rodents. While sitting I’ve seen most squirrels appear, due to the fact that they are one curious animal, I suppose.

A squirrel will often hear you or spot you coming along, and they will quickly disappear. But their curiosity soon gets the best of them and there they are, fair game.

Well now, I mentioned rabbit or grouse hunting above as well as squirrels. The fun thing is that when you’re moving about at any time you may scare up a rabbit or even a grouse.

But sometimes you don’t even need to be moving. A while back I was sitting on a fallen tree tree trunk in squirrel country when a pat flew in and landed right on the tree I was sitting on. Well, I was quickly reminded of the first grouse I ever shot. I was about 10-years-old when I saw a grouse in the trail ahead of me, pulled up and shot it then and there, leaving nothing but a pile of feathers and a few bones! So this time I just sat there and waited until the bird began to fly away and was fair game. You guessed it, I missed it!

Rabbits also frequent the same area as squirrels and grouse, so be prepared when you, or your dog, scares one up. And actually, if you haven’t already discovered it, a rabbit is usually easier to hit than a flying grouse.

So yes, it’s the time of year to chase down some small game, have some fun, and get some great exercise at the same time. Have good luck out there, and hunt safely.

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