Hunting can be fun despite the challenges

Taylor Bellott and I recently loaded our guns, tents and enough essentials to last us a few days in the truck and headed east to the Mike Freeze Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area.

Although we didn’t leave until noon, we hoped to arrive with enough time to set up camp and do a few hours of squirrel hunting before it got too dark to see.

Plans were to be back in the woods just as the rising sun deemed it a new day the next morning. And although the squirrel population seemed to be down in the Ouachitas, we hoped there would be enough of them in the white bottoms of the river to keep us busy for the next two hours.

Well, it turned out that squirrels were significantly more abundant at our chosen destination. In fact, I was looking through my telescope at a bushy tail that evening, shortly after the tents were set up and I made our way into the beautiful open woods.

But looking through the lens was hardly a guarantee of success. In fact, it didn’t take long to conclude that I should have aimed my gun before leaving the house.

The squirrel was only 30 feet away. But he barely flinched when I pulled the trigger. In fact, a succession of barks was his only response.

So what to do? Well, I certainly wasn’t beyond running out of a freehand position. So I slowly walked alongside and leaned the .22 rifle against a large oak tree. Anxious to put the rodent in the crosshairs, I pulled the trigger. And his response was to shimmy a little higher up the tree.

It quickly became apparent that my scope was not aimed correctly. But I still took another shot, in case I still managed to move, despite leaning my gun against the tree.

The knock was answered by another succession of barks. I guess I could have fired again, but obviously that would have been futile. So instead of scaring the other squirrels nearby, I chose to go back to the truck.

Fortunately, I had also loaded my shotgun in the truck. So I would just go back into the woods with more firepower, early the next morning.

Descending below the canopy of towering hardwoods, just when it was light enough to see, I noticed movement in the distant treetops. Well, it was time to redeem myself. So I slowly walked over to where the squirrel was feeding on acorns.

But the bushy tail obviously didn’t share my sentiments. In fact, he started climbing and disappeared into the towering trees long before I got in range.

Sitting on a fallen log, I was ready to play the waiting game. But it turned out that the squirrel was much more patient than me. And I finally chose to go a little deeper into the forest, where I could manage to pass unnoticed while spotting my next potential bounty.

But it didn’t take long to figure out that those squirrels had circled the block. They had obviously seen their fair share of hunting pressure over the past two months. And they were as wild as a March hare. But the morning was young. And I would surely manage to pocket at least a couple of them with a little persistence.

Well, a couple was all I managed to pack before the late morning arrival when we had planned to regroup at camp. Well, it turns out that Taylor had been through the same scenario. In fact, he only had two in the bag too.

But that was okay, because one more hunt would give us more than enough to provide our families with a substantial meal. Granted, we had both had more productive outings. But we also agreed that our excursion to Wattensaw was a pleasure. And we would certainly return with aspirations of greater success and yet another fun outing in the great outdoors.