Archive for the ‘Small Game’ Category

Last Sunday, a few of us met a fantastic outdoorsman named Jason for a bit of squirrel hunting over trained dogs. (Treeing Feists, I believe, though I never asked Jason specifically what breed the dogs happened to be.)  I’ve never actually hunted squirrels with dogs before, though I’ve been in the woods with a .22 LR rimfire, my GSP Cinders and said the words ‘find me a squirrel,’ I’m pretty sure most of what Cinders did was mark every fifth tree for two hours and burn off energy. It was still fun.

We hunted for about three hours. This is nearly the end of the season and it was quite warm on Sunday, we were all in tee shirts and jeans, so the squirrels were pretty much determined to stay in their dens, but we did see three and manage to bag two of them.

The dogs were amazing, watching the two of them dash from tree to tree, using their noses to determine if a squirrel had been on the tree recently, and if so, how recently.  If the dogs thought the scent was hot, they would bark, letting us know there may be a squirrel above.

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The older dog, Spoon (the white one) was getting mad at us because most of the trees had hollows that the squirrels were NOT coming out of. Jason would call ‘In a hole!’ and the dogs would move to a new tree. By the time we had been hunting for an hour, when she heard that, she would look at us like “Y’all aren’t very good at this! There is a SQUIRREL up there!”

When we finally killed the first one, I thought she would do backflips.

The second squirrel we spotted bolted straight into a hole in the tree, so there was no chance of getting that one.  The third squirrel, when it hit the ground, was immediately snatched up by D.J., the younger of the two dogs.  He immediately showed Jason the squirrel, then dashed to each one of us in turn, as if to say “See?! THIS is what one looks like!”

It was a great time, lots of fun, good exercise for us and the dogs, and overall better than being cooped up in a house.

I took  a few photos of what Jason and Clay called ‘wild lemon,’ and I have to say, I need to grow this stuff around the house as defense against everything. The thorns were 1-3″ long.

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Georgia Outdoor News

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By Daryl Kirby
Posted Thursday May 28 2015, 8:47 AM

Sportsmen are being asked to support efforts to raise hunting and fishing license fees. DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) has cut services to sportsmen over the years because of mandated budget cuts, and WRD says more money would allow the agency to return those services and also enhance and start new efforts.

Georgia’s resident license fees haven’t increased since 1992, and Georgia’s current fees are either the least expensive or close to it in every category among 16 Southeastern states.

So far there are no specific details on what programs WRD might implement to help hunters and anglers, but sportsmen are encouraged to give their opinions on a license-fee increase and what they’d like to see WRD do with additional funding.

Seven open meetings are being held this month. Sportsmen should certainly attend. It’s your money.

Read the rest of the article at

(Here are the meetings scheduled)

WRD License-Fee Open Meetings

All meetings 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.

June 15: Gainesville Civic Center
Chattahoochee Room, 830 Green Street NE, Gainesville, GA 30501

June 16: Baxley City Hall
City Council Meeting Room, 282 East Parker Street, Baxley, GA 31513

June 17: Richmond Hill City Center
520 Cedar Street (in J.F. Gregory Park), Richmond Hill, GA 31324

June 22: Grace Fellowship Church
1971 South Main Street, Greensboro, GA 30642

June 23: Red Top Mtn State Park
Group Shelter #1, 50 Lodge Road SE, Cartersville, GA 30121

June 24: Darton College
Room J121-123, 2400 Gillionville Road, Albany, GA 31707

June 25: Miller-Murphy-Howard Building Conference Room, Georgia National Fairgrounds
401 Larry Walker Parkway, (Exit 135 off I-75), Perry, GA 31069

I used to hunt ringneck pheasant with my father when I was young.  Long after I moved to Kirkwood, New York, my dad started to raise German Shorthair Pointers and REALLY hunt pheasants, but other than a few times we went out with his pointers in the early 1990’s, it was always with beagles and a black lab, because that’s what we had back when I was a kid.  I even hunted ruffled grouse a few times with him, which were all over the woods near my house, and across the border in Pennsylvania, which was only three or four miles from where I grew up. (I have never taken a grouse – we literally couldn’t find them during season, we had to wait until deer season for the little heart-attack-makers to pop out of the any clump of debris in the woods right at our feet.)

But I haven’t hunted birds, or even shot clays, for nearly twenty years.

That all changed this Saturday, but it takes a bit of explaining to understand WHY it changed.  I don’t have much of a budget for hunting, we have a lot of rescued pets, and they take up a lot of our budget each month, particularly the allergic-to-the-entire-planet German Shepherd. But, we take care of our pets (all four dogs, three cats, three turtles, two tanks of fish, and the horse) so I make do with what I have in terms of gear and travel for hunting.   I always thought dove hunting was a Southern ‘Gentleman’ sport, and I don’t say it that way to exclude women from the sport, but it always conjured images out of Garden & Gun magazine, of the $3,500 over and under shotguns, with the Orvis or better quality shooting vest and clothes, on big dollar hunting plantations.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThat image went out the window last year while bow hunting at Joe Kurz WMA.  Jimmy* and I, while driving around Lodge road, spotted a truck with two young (think 5-7 years old) boys in it, and the back door open.  We stopped to make sure they were OK, and they said ‘We can’t get the radio to turn off!’  I told them to open and close the FRONT door, which would trigger the auto-shutoff on the radio, and then asked where their dad was.  The smaller boy pointed across the hood of my truck, and we peered through the misting rain and could just make out somebody walking down the road about seventy five yards away.   I pulled the truck over,  and to our surprise, it was James, one of the folks we shoot 3D archery with.  He was dove hunting, and had his son and nephew with him, the boys had just gone back to the truck to get out of the rain.

So, that got me interested in dove hunting: here was somebody I knew who hunted an area I was now familiar with, and didn’t mind me tagging along for a hunt.

This year, that translated into me spending a fairly wild (to me) eight hours at Joe Kurz this opening day, slinging shot and having the time of my life.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe day started off a bit rough. I got out of bed after several attempts, showered and threw my gear in the truck, then started putting my boots on when suddenly my cell phone rang.  Work was calling, they needed me to contact Dell ProSupport and get a server back up.  I spent about an hour and a half getting that rolling, then jumped in the truck and headed south.  There is no direct route from my place to Joe Kurz, the fastest way the GPS takes me is down I20 to 285, then down I85 past Newnan, altogether taking me about an hour and a half to go 65 miles.  The last 23 miles are almost all on two lane, secondary roads, and the last ten miles was spent mostly behind people on bicycles for some kind of event.   This meant slowing down to 5-8 MPH until I could get a long enough line of sight to safely pass the cyclists.  Over, and over, and over again.

I try very hard to be extra safe around anyone on a bike, motorcycle, on foot, or even in areas where there might be children or pets playing near the road, because I have a very vivid imagination, and I’ve been in a lot of situations over the years that have taught me that its far better to think ahead and be safe just in case.  (I think the risk management class in graduate school cemented that into my head, for which I am very grateful.)  I don’t know what kind of cycling event this happened to be, because I didn’t just see the stick-insect-skinny cycling fanatics you see in a typical road race, but folks of all shapes, sizes, and on all kinds of bikes, including a tandem, but they were everywhere, for the last ten or twelve miles of the ride.  So after getting up late, work calling, and the cyclists, I got to Joe Kurz around 11:20 am.  Dove season started at noon, so I signed in, and started looking for James’ son and a buddy of his, since James had said to call him when I found them.

When I pulled up to Lodge Road, the long loop section was marked with ‘road closed’ signs that will be familiar to anyone who has hunted a Georgia Wildlife Management area, and there had to have been thirty or forty trucks parked at the intersection.  I was flabbergasted, thinking ‘Oh, crap, I may not be able to hunt here, I might have to just get the camera out and walk with that all day.’

Luckily, dove hunting translates well into being a team sport.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI found Ron and Logan about half a mile down the right side of Lodge road, where the road turns left to continue the loop, and the dead end lodge driveway starts, sitting under a pine tree.  I had passed probably fifty hunters by the time I found them, because there were a LOT of people in lawn chairs, sitting on buckets, or just standing around, the entire length of the fields, on either side of the road.  One of the hunters HAS to win the ‘genius of the day’ award, because he used a four-wheeled garden cart to bring his cooler and all of his gear down the field, most of the rest of us just hauled our gear in by hand.  I did see one hunter using a deer cart, and some other folks who had, like me, a rolling cooler, but I wasn’t smart enough to bring the cooler, or ALL of my ammunition, on the first walk down the field. Oh no, I had 45 shells in a hip bag and my SKB, my camera, and one bottle of water with me, so I had to immediately go BACK up the field and get my rolling cooler.   Then, four hours later, go back up the field again and get my other five boxes of ammunition.  (We ended up shooting five boxes of ammunition total, and I gave a box to a hunter who ran out.)

I saw a LOT of great ideas for last year, but what really shocked me was just how densely packed the hunters were around and in these fields. The sunflower field we hunted over had hunters lining the pine trees, hunters spaced out in the middle of the field, and hunters along the other edge of the field.  What was surprising was the amount of cooperation that generated: hunters would yell ‘over the top!’ or ‘low bird’ as the doves flew, to keep other hunters from decorating each other with #7 shot, or to let people on the other side of some trees know the doves were coming.

Here are just two snapshots of the hunters along the fields:


When noon rolled around, for about half a minute, I was sure it was going to be a let-down. Nothing happened. No birds, no immediate storm of distant booms, not a thing happened. For half a minute.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen the first flight of three doves crested the trees, and the booms weren’t so distant. Within ten minutes, there was gunfire in every direction, and the rain-like sound of shot hitting leaves after running out of energy started while we could see spent wads from shells spiralling down in the air around us. And then a dove managed to fly up the road, weaving around the shotshells, angling towards the field right in front of us, and I drew a bead on it with my SKB and knocked it out of the air with my first shot. I was ecstatic, probably twenty years after the last time I tried to shoot anything in the air with a shotgun, and my first shot was perfect.  “Alright! This is much easier than I thought it would be!” was my first thought.  Being in my mid 40’s, my send thought was a very jaded “yup, now I’ve jinxed it, watch me miss all day now…”   Well, that didn’t happen, but I did go through about nearly four boxes of shells myself and only managed six more doves of my own.   I will say this: some folks will claim every bird they can, regardless of who may or may not have shot it, and other people will go far the other way to be as fair as possible.  We had a mix of both types out there, and at times, I don’t think anyone could have said which shot took a bird down, but the shoot was hot and heavy all day.  Did I say hot?  Close to ninety degrees, with spotty clouds, and probably close to sixty percent humidity, until around five pm, when the thunderstorms hit, and soaked us for three hours straight.

I had a wonderful day, even if I felt twice as old when I got out of bed Sunday morning, creaking like a Spanish galleon in rough seas, but happy nonetheless.  My first day of dove hunting over black sunflowers will stay with me for a long, long time.


*Jimmy is the other half of what we’ve been calling ‘Team Bifocals,’  since both of us are into our bifocal years and have vision problems.

Click to view my Twitter profile

Click to view my Twitter profile

I spend a lot of time lurking on Twitter and FaceBook.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m almost always doing other things too, I just keep the feed running and try to spot photos and key words that I’m interested in. (For me, that’s anything related to: hunting, fishing, archery, firearms, physics, climatology, astronomy, history, the film industry, books, and cooking. Yeah, I stay busy.)  One of the repeated themes I’ve seen, year after year, is the ‘countdown to hunting season!’  I even have a widget here on the page that I sometimes use to count down to the next shoot, or Turkey season, Deer season, etc.

It occurred to me the other day that this isn’t really the right mindset.  I was reading something  Mark posted over at Wired to Hunt , and shortly after that I saw somebody post how many days until the start of season, and I thought ‘wait, that isn’t right, we’ve got so much to do between now and then to get ready for season, it’s like season never ends.’   That’s when I decided I was going to make a list of things that needed done, by month, to get ready for the HARVEST season.  You see, we can scout, plant food plots or keep feeders full, place and move trail cameras, etc. all year long (depending on your state, or your location in the state, some places feeders are illegal, etc. CHECK YOUR LOCAL REGULATIONS) so we’ve moved from being seasonal hunters to a more farm-like mindset.  End of season scouting tells us how the ‘livestock’ have fared, collecting sheds gives us an idea of the local population of bucks, planting food plots or feeding through the winter helps the herd survive, practicing our shooting skills through the spring with 3D shoots, etc.

So, while not finished, here are my monthly thoughts on ‘what to do through the year.’  Keep in mind I don’t HAVE a piece of property to put a food plot on, at this point I am hunting on public land almost entirely.  Also keep in mind that I shoot 3D both as a pro-staffer for Hips Archery Targets and as a Gable Sporting Goods staff shooter, so nine months of the year, ‘shoot 3D tournaments’ is on the list.  Also, this isn’t a comprehensive list, I thought of this yesterday, and literally made decisions on what goes on the list as I sit here in front of my computer.  I’m sure I’ve left things off, and keep in mind that this is MY list. If you have hunting property, you’ll need to add in working on food plots, or moving stands, etc.  I don’t have a need for those items, because I have to pull my stand out every night on public land.


  • End of season, look at trails and consider needs for the coming year in terms of gear and property.
  • Look at the gear I have, make repairs and decisions on replace or discard various damaged pieces of equipment.
  • Watch for clearance gear from various sources (including social media.)
  • Reset bow for 3D tournaments, shoot 3D tournaments


  • Archery 3D season picks up, practice form and shot sequence, continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Scout local Wildlife Management Areas while small game hunting. (DID NOT DO, meant to, just didn’t get out and do it.)
  • Shed hunt local Wildlife Management Areas.


  • Continue to shed hunt
  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Talk to various people regarding finding hog, turkey, and deer hunting opportunities
  • Turkey season starts, note down deer and hog sign while turkey hunting


  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Evaluate my firearms – are there any that I can sell or trade, do I need to purchase more ammunition
  • Be aware of deer and/or hog sign while turkey hunting*
  • Continue to look for property
  • Fishing for stripers on Lake Allatoona
  • Continue to hunt turkey and make notes


  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • More fishing
  • Continue to look for property
  • Plan trail cam use for summer, write down a plan
  • Turkey season ends, check notes for possible trail cam locations


  • Scout local Wildlife Management Areas and check turkey hunting notes for likely trail cam use
  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Place trail cam (I am very leery of this on a WMA, I have ONE trail cam, and I don’t want to have it stolen.)
  • Double check climbing harness and climbing stand for damage.
  • Make tentative plans for using vacation in the fall
  • Apply for quota hunts with the Georgia DNR
  • Make a calendar of important dates for various seasons and hunts on public land


  • Check trail cam, move if warranted.
  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments, shoot the state championship
  • Scout more Wildlife Management Areas, talk to rangers if possible.
  • Continue to look for hunting property
  • Check firearms for accuracy, sight in again if needed, double check ammunition
  • Discuss hunting trips with my hunting friends


  • Check trail cam, move if warranted.
  • Small game season starts, leverage small game hunting to scout for big game
  • Make plans for the opening of archery season
  • Firm up vacation plans for hunting season
  • Check supply of scent free products
  • Set up hunting bow, shoot season-prep tournaments


  • Archery season starts
  • Continue to scout for firearm season while hunting
  • Continue to look for property
  • Re-examine gear to determine if any changes are needed
  • Check trail cam, move if warranted
  • Note acorn development, discuss with other hunters


  • Continue to bowhunt
  • Note down any turkey sign or encounters for spring turkey season
  • Check trail cam, move if warranted
  • Take notes of any hog sign
  • Take notes of rub lines or long distance deer sightings


  • Check notes so far for the year, try to develop doe patterns for the rut
  • Check trail cam, move if warranted.
  • Take notes on movement, look for the beginning of the rut.
  • Note down any turkey sign or encounters for spring turkey season
  • Hunt the rut.


  • Hunt the end of the rut and post-rut
  • Check trail cam, pull it after the last day of hunting
  • Note down any turkey sign or encounters for spring turkey season
  • Examine notes and list from the year, make changes if needed for the next year.


This also isn’t meant to be some obsessive/compulsive “Oh, DARN, I forgot to do X!” list, it just breaks down what I would (or should) do for the months.  For example, EVERY YEAR I say I’m going to small game hunt through February, to scout, shed hunt, and put some squirrels in the freezer.  I never do. Ever.  Because 3D season is in full swing, and if I’m not at a 3D shoot, I’m planning to run one, practicing for the next one, or saying ‘Screw it, it’s raining, I’m going to watch The Avengers again!’  I’m just glad nobody’s grading me on it. 🙂

This squirrel approves

This squirrel approves

…okay…. apparently there were two squirrels with half of a tail each in our backyard, because as we were eating dinner last night, a familiar raider happened upon our bird feeders.  The wife jumped up and squinted at the furry thief, then grinned from ear to ear and said “That’s Badass Squirrel!”


That’s him: Badass Squirrel, the squirrel that attacks hawks

Now, we have to open the backdoor and make some noise before letting the dogs out, to give the tree rats a running start.

Still, I’m happy that the dogs took out ‘the wrong’ squirrel Sunday.  The look on Cinder’s face was priceless though, he thought he’d finally earned some ‘street cred.’

"Wait a minute...."

“Wait a minute….”


Our feeders seen from inside the house.

Our feeders seen from inside the house.

One day last year, my wife told me she’d seen the oddest thing, a squirrel attacking a hawk.  She said she was watching a young squirrel raiding our bird feeders outside the dining room window when a hawk stooped and knocked the squirrel to the ground.  The hawk, of course, pounced back onto the squirrel to have some lunch, when another squirrel that Lisa hadn’t seen jumped from the deck railing onto the hawk, attacking the bird.

Sadly, we never did get a picture of this thug-like tree rat. The psychotic squirrel was easy to identify, he only had half of his tail, the back half being lost to some accident or predator, maybe even this very hawk.  The wife immediately named him Badass Squirrel.

The squirrel became a fixture around the back yard.  Fill a feeder?  He would raid it.  Set out some stale bread for the birds? He’d inspect it and decide if he wanted it or not.  We even have a suction cup mounted bird feeder attached to the dining room window, on the other side of the glass from the cat perch, and he’d climb right in, ignoring the cats, the dogs, and after a few weeks, even ignoring my family if we wanted to have a look.

Photo from Wikipedia - click to go to the article

Photo from Wikipedia – click to go to the article

Of course, the dogs hated it. they would pop their heads up and glare at the squirrel through the window, once in a while woofing or snapping at him. They’re (mostly) hunting dogs, two German Shorthaired Pointers, an American-English Coonhound* and a German Shepherd.   And this chaotic pack of rescues has caught squirrels and chipmunks in the past, so both the wife and I KNEW that one day, something might happen. (We’ve had conversations about her not naming things, since once it’s got a name, that’s all there is to it, it’s part of the family. We both want a farm, but I can just SEE every hog, every cow, chicken, etc. having a name, and then instead of a FARM, we’d have a private petting zoo…)

Not that we don’t have a petting zoo now, four dogs, three cats, three turtles, two tanks full of fish (ok, NOBODY pets the fish) and a horse.  And yet every week, one of us says something like ‘I wish we had enough space for goats, or cows, or sheep….’

Our dogs (from near to far) Gretchen, Zelda, Brody and Cinders.

Our dogs (from near to far) Gretchen, Zelda, Brody and Cinders.

So, now we have a dilemma – the squirrel has a ‘name’ and we have big hunting dogs who, due to lack of actual hunting to do and general overabundance of energy, focus their wrath upon the squirrels of the neighborhood.   Just last week, when I got home from work my wife was telling me that Cinders (the darkest GSP at the top of the photo) had ALMOST caught Badass Squirrel, but the squirrel had turned around and tried to attack him, which made my dog veer off. (This squirrel had been aggressive towards other critters for the better part of a year, and our dogs have all their shots, so I wasn’t worried about rabies.)  So now Badass Squirrel had not only bullied a hawk, he had bullied two of my four dogs, since usually only Gretchen and Cinders actively chase squirrels.   Gretchen actually thinks they GROW on trees, and fall out when ripe, she’ll stand and watch a tree for an hour, waiting for a ripe one.

Needless to say, this wasn’t going to end well in time, and yesterday was that time.  I was washing the mud off of my truck from the shoot Saturday and keeping an eye on the dogs, because Zelda and Brody like to sneak into neighbor’s yards when they can, and I heard an angry squeak in the garage behind me.   I turned the hose off, walked into the garage, and found Gretchen and Cinders standing over Badass Squirrel, who was in bad shape.  The dogs weren’t worrying the squirrel, if anything, they were treating it like one of their plush toys at this point, which, while they adore their toys, isn’t a survivable experience for a three pound rodent.

So, that was the end of the story for Badass Squirrel – Gretchen and Cinders caught him (and Cinders has two small bite marks on the side of his nose to show that the squirrel did NOT go gentle into that good night) and that was his downfall.  I have to say, Badass Squirrel even looked angry after his passing.  He is now buried back in the woods he called home, and my wife is saddened by the loss, even thought I TOLD her not to name the squirrels.

I’m sure she’ll name the next one she takes a fancy to as well.

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* This is mainly for people who know us – we’ve always told our friends and family that Gretchen was a Bluetick Coonhound mix, most likely with Black Labrador retriever, however a few months ago I came across a photo of an American-English coonhound, and you know what, I’m pretty sure that’s our dog happens to be. We based our information on what the rescue group we got her from said, however, after hearing a few other stories about that group, I’m surprised they actually got her gender right…  Judge for yourself:



American-English Coonhound

American-English Coonhound