Monday, March 4, 2013

Squirrel hunting

One of my favorite times was going hunting with my brother Larry Olson who I have looked up to all my life.  I should say Dr. Larry Olson as he spent the time to get that dadgummed thing and it took an extra 4 years of school and a lot of hard work.  Anyway Larry was always a very focused and disciplined person except for the one time he ran over me with the pickup and I will have to tell you that story sometime.  By the way in case you are wondering I did live.  Man I hope you figured that out on your own.  OK, OK.  Larry could do about anything and he would always do it well or should I say great.  Where he lacked talent he made up with determination and practice.  Well outside of fishing I think hunting was my favorite thing to do with him and most of the time I liked it better than fishing.  The only thing I did not like was he could do both better than me.

Well I would have to say that about once a week especially during the fall and winter we would hunt.  We hunted primarily two things, squirrels and quail.  Living on Beaver Creek we had lots of timber (trees) and there were lots of oaks with acorns and many walnut trees.  If you have never had black walnuts to eat then you have never had a real walnut.  They are amazing.  Anyway in those trees after the leaves had dropped you could see the squirrel nests.  Basically they were large balls of leaves and twigs put together up in the trees where the wind and rain and weather would not bother the squirrels.  Sure there were squirrels who lived in holes in trees but mostly they lived in those nests.  Our trees were generally pretty tall and I would estimate 30 to 50 feet tall.  Some of the oak trees and cotton woods would be so big you could not get your arms and body even half way around the trunk of the tree.  Another thing you should know is we did not have these sissy little grey squirrels that live around the cities and are like rats everywhere.  We had giant red squirrels which are about four times bigger.  The squirrels were fast and very sneaky.  Larry and I would get up and out about day light to go hunting and you had to sneak up on the squirrels to keep from spooking them.

Generally Larry always carried the 22 rifle and I would carry a 410 shot gun.  Once in a while we would shoot a squirrel and they would run into the nest and we could not retrieve them as the nests were so far out on a limb that you could not get to them.  But, dad always came through and he insisted that if you killed a squirrel then you had better figure out a way to get it down out of those nests.  Well, we heated the house with wood and one small gas heater in the hallway but the primary heat source in winter was firewood.  So if you have any thinking skills you figured out that dad would make us get the chain saw and cut down the tree to get the squirrel and that tree became the firewood for winter cold nights.  It was really a pretty good system and I really did not mind as I liked to work outside and cutting and splitting wood was something I enjoyed most of the time.

Once you recovered the squirrel it was time to clean it.  That meant cleaning out the guts and skinning it.  Squirrel hide is the most difficult hide there is when you are cleaning an animal.  But once you got that squirrel cleaned and washed up mom was ready to put on the cast iron skillet with some Crisco (grease) and fry it until a nice crispy covering.  Sometimes she would make squirrel gravy and MAN! I would have to tell you that was "some good eat'n"!  I would also have to say that mom taught my sister Debbie to be a great cook as well.  I don't remember Debbie ever going hunting but she would go fishing on occasion.  Mostly she liked to cook and I think she took great pleasure in spoiling her brothers and especially me.

So what do you learn in the Osage?

  • Eat what you kill
  • Clean your plate, there are people starving in China
  • Exercise and outdoors are the keys to a happy life and it is the easiest place to go and see God's greatest work.  
  • It is impossible to be an outdoors man and not believe in God.
  • How stupid is it to believe a BIG Bang could have created the variety and beauty of nature?
Thanks for your time,
gary@thepioneerman.com

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