Once again we have made it to another opening day of squirrel season, I hope.
We have been able to go afield on the third Saturday of August — that falls on the 16th this year — every year since I was born, except one when Doug Hensley, our commissioner at the time, changed the season to open the day after Labor Day. That didn’t fly, so it went back to the third Saturday in August.
Many of you young people will never know what used to be the thrill of opening day of squirrel season. You couldn’t find a pickup truck, a car used as a pick-up truck, a coal miner or any of his sons in Letcher County on that day. Old Highway 15 was packed with hunters heading to Quicksand in Breathitt County or to the counties of Pulaski, McCreary, Bath and Laurel.
Squirrel season back in the day meant something. You couldn’t buy a gallon of white gas unless you had gotten it weeks in advance. Jars of pickled bologna and cans of Vienna sausage, potted meat, and pork and beans all flew from the stores. It was a time when friends and neighbors could spend time in the woods away from Letcher County, camp out, fix “hard grub”, and tell big tales about the one that got away.
The hollow where I grew up sounded like a war zone while everybody was getting his eye tuned up for the big day. Tents were set up about a week before in our yard to check for leaks and to coat them with some smelly stuff if they did leak. Guns were oiled, shells packed, and garden stuff was packed well in advance. A new invention called the paper towel was also a necessity.
I’ve seen as many as three coolers full of squirrels brought back home after one weekend of hunting. Those were the days.