Squirrels – even though they totally trash the front yard with acorn shells from my
pin oak trees, and even drag big acorns in from a couple blocks away, you still
gotta’ love em’. They hang upside down from the trunk of the tree, chase each
other around through the branches and drive the dogs absolutely bonkers when
they hang there and taunt them.
Last Saturday morning I sat overlooking a big soybean stubble field in a last ditch
effort to put venison in the freezer. The end of the pasture directly behind me
was home to numerous Hedge Apple trees. Hedge Apples are a staple for
squirrels during winter, and the ground beneath each tree was littered with piles
of freshly chewed Hedge Apple flesh.
The morning was as calm as Kansas mornings ever get; I don’t like deer hunting
when it’s so calm. A good breeze moves the tall grass and tree limbs around
slightly, making a littler noise in the process and allowing sometimes bumbling
hunters like myself to get away with a little more noise and movement. The
resident squirrels must have suddenly noticed my presence and I soon became
the object of their scolding. Squirrels use a barking/chattering sound to scold
intruders and once you know that sound you will never forget it. They start with
sort of a barking sound followed by several quieter almost clucking sounds, during
which their bushy tails twitch and jerk with each note, and then the whole ballad
repeats itself over and over again.
The first irritated squirrel made its displeasure known from somewhere to my left,
barking and clucking incessantly for several minutes, then a second displeased
protester joined in from my right. Its scolding began like the cries of a blue jay and
ended with muffled little clucks. I figured by then that every deer in the township
was on high alert, and just when I figured the woods couldn’t get any louder, a
third objector joined the clamor.
This went on nonstop for a good twenty minutes, then as if someone had thrown
a switch, all was instantly silent! I’ve never heard scolding squirrels quiet
themselves so abruptly. It kind of spooked me; I was afraid Bigfoot or Moth Man
might be about to pounce on me from behind!
Suddenly the overhanging branches in front of me began to dance slightly, first
one then another, as if a breeze had developed. “Odd,” I thought “that the whole
tree would not move at once.” I began hearing a muffled chattering sound of
some sort and looked up to see one of the resident squirrels that disapproved of
my presence, starring at me about six feet above my head and rebuking me with
funny little mumbling sounds as it danced from limb to limb.
I went home to breakfast with no deer but satisfied that I had been in the front
row for yet another theatrical performance by some of God’s critters. As noisy
and obnoxious as they are, and as badly as I’d like to run the whole lot of em’
from my lawn, they are comical and amazing little creatures…….and they taste
just like chicken.
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]