#51 Squirrel Hunting

by Bruce Roush

Dad and I moved across the newly harvested corn field toward the coolness of the woods. We each cradled a shotgun. Mine was a brand new .410, my 11th birthday present.

Taking positions about ten feet apart, sitting on the ground, our backs rested against tree trunks.

Gazing beyond my rubber booted feet, past the twigs in front of me, I focused on a shag bark hickory 60 yards away where the cloudy blue sky seemed to dive to the dark forest floor, illuminating the tree.

On a branch about twenty feet from the ground was a grey squirrel. Heart racing, I quietly watched as the squirrel sat on its hind legs, holding a hickory nut to his teeth with his front paws.

I slowly moved the gun to my shoulder, trying to remember all that dad had told me.

Move your gun slowly, no sudden movements

Sighting along the barrel, my gaze fixed on a spot just above the squirrel’s head.

Farther away your target, the more the shot’ll drop

I slid my index finger onto the trigger, took a deep breath and slowly let it out.

Squeeze real slow boy, don’t jerk it

Shot flew from the .410, a tight pattern of pellets enveloping the squirrel, dropping it from the branch like a stone.

Picking up the warm, lifeless body, elation changed to deep sadness for the dead creature. I wanted to cry but couldn’t in front of my dad whose face wore a proud smile.

14 comments:

Flutterby said...

Beautiful slice of country life. I felt like I was right there!

Bruce said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Flutterby. I'm glad you were drawn into my story.

JRVogt said...

Nice contrast in the father/son relationship. I think a lot of boys (young or old) can relate.

Bruce said...

Thanks JRVogt-your comment is right on target, pardon the pun.

Deb said...

I think a lot of squirrels can relate. Just kidding - this is a great story and you are a gifted writer.

Bruce said...

Thank you Deb-Your comment will have me smiling for the rest of the day.

Margaret said...

Very well written, Bruce. Not only is the young boy's agony palpable, his anxiety at disappointing his dad comes across very strongly in your lines.

Felt like I was hiding behind a tree and watching the scene - hoping the boy would miss his target. But also glad he'd made his dad proud.

Bruce said...

Margaret, thanks for your comments. An eleven year old does have lots of conflict going on, especially when hunting with his dad.

Alana Nicole said...

Growing up on horse farms here in Kentucky, I do relate to this story pretty well.

Bruce said...

Thanks for commenting, Alana Nicole. Glad the story struck a familiar chord with you.

Laura Howe said...

I was rooting for the squirrel to spy the boy, drop the nut and spring to safety. But other than that, great job describing the scene and a conflict that many young boys (and girls) have faced on their first hunt.

Bruce said...

Laura-Many of the squirrels did just that. Your comment is very much appreciated.

Aniket Thakkar said...

The things we do for love.

I like to shoot targets, but I've never shot anything that poops. Have no intention of doing so either.

Like everyone said, your description of the scene was spot on. Something, as I've repeatedly told, I suck at.

Bruce said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Aniket. Still lauging at your ..."never shot anything that poops." Could be used as a slogan for the Vegetarian Rifle Club.