Whitesburg KY

Struttin’ Time

A lesson learned from squirrel hunt

We still have a few more days left in spring squirrel season. I guess this season, which ends June 19, is almost forgotten about, based on what I see posted and listening to hunters, most of whom are above 60 years old.

Still, some of my favorite memories are built around this season. I love to “just ponder” and recall these gone past years. I like to think of hunting as a learning curve — like the time involving one of my most favorite people of all times, Mr. Henry Sword, my second daddy and my dad’s best friend and an all around great man.

I was walking out of the house one morning before daylight heading to the woods during mulberry season and Mr. Sword was heading to work. I had my trusty .22 rifle and a new 25-cent box of .22 shorts. Mr. Sword said, “Stevie, I can save you a lot of time if you just listen.’”

I was probably 12 years old, and kids that age don’t listen well. But I knew to listen to Mr. Sword; he would never tell me wrong.

He said, “Stevie, that clump of trees in front of my house, the beechnuts and black gum, I see squirrels in there every day.” I for sure was going to take him up on that, as it was about a 200-yard walk. That sure beat walking to the top of the mountain, and besides that he had already seen them.

I found myself a good spot to sit, laid my box of shells beside me, and waited until the sun came up. Not long after sunrise, the squirrels started to appear. Something was wrong, and before I shouldered my .22 for the first time, I knew I was in some den trees with mothers and their babies. Hunt over, too late to walk to the top of the mountain, I sure better not take any baby gray squirrels back into the house. I just found something else to do for the day.

That evening I saw Mr. Sword coming in from work. He said, “Stevie, did you see the squirrels?” with a grin on his face. “Thanks, Mr. Sword, I sure did,” I answered, “but they were babies, with their mothers. It is their den trees.” Then the giant among men put his arm around my neck and said, “I knew that. I wanted to see if you would do the right thing, and you did. That scores high in my book.” He then walked on into his house.

My whole life I have tried to follow Mr. Sword’s example and do the right thing. I have failed sometimes, but I have tried to get it right the second time around. Yes there are lessons to be learned from hunting and old friends.

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