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Those squirrels!

November 26, 2011
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

There's just something about squirrels that bother me. In my conservation work, I have had the opportunity to handle many different animals eagles, hummingbirds, deer and river otters to name just a very few. I love to handle snakes when so many other people don't. But there's just something about those squirrels.

Now, if you are going to bow-hunt for deer, you are going to have to contend with squirrels. They can be fun to watch at times, but they can be terribly annoying too. It is amazing how much a little squirrel can sound like a deer coming through the woods. I can't count how many times I have been convinced that it was a big old buck coming down the trail behind me. I have the bow ready. I've even come to a draw ready for the magnificent trophy whitetail buck that is about to make his appearance from around the big oak only to be surprised by a happy little Fox Squirrel. Every once in awhile, they will help me out a bit, however. I have on occasion been nodding off in the tree to be awakened by the scolding barks of a squirrel. When I eventually turn to look, I see that its anger is directed at a deer making its way down the trail toward me.

As I said earlier, there's something about squirrels that bother me. Downright give me the heebie-jeebies kind of bother me. You see, I have this fear that one is going to climb my tree and attack me. I sit there in the tree watching the little fellas bouncing around there in the woods and have run through the scenario at least a hundred times. It always goes something like this:

It starts with one of the "tree rats" nonchalantly feeding around on the forest floor on nuts or Hawthorne apples. After awhile I lose track of where it has gone. When, all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, I find the thing climbing my leg! This is followed by my screaming wildly like some girly-man. Not only that, but the daydream continues with the critter entering my coveralls. And once inside, we all know that feeling threatened, it would certainly start biting me with those razor sharp teeth. The daydream (I should say daymare) concludes with me falling from the tree. In fact, I told my friend Dennis early on in my bow-hunting career that if he ever was to find me injured at the base of a tree or up in the stand with a heart attack that the cause would be a squirrel. Even just writing this down made me break into a cold sweat.

But given all of that fear, they are fun to watch. Young squirrels spend countless hours chasing each other around the woods. It is all a part of growing up and learning the skills necessary for survival. The hairpin turns that they practice just may someday be the same maneuver that avoids the hawk or owl talons.

The other evening, I watched a squirrel ascending the tree beside me. Now that you know my squirrel fear, you know I was watching out that this nonchalant little fella wasn't going to unexpectedly spring over to my tree and attack! Anyway, the squirrel made his way to the top where a nest of leaves awaited him for the night. When he reached the nest, however, much to his surprise there was another squirrel already occupying the site and a short but very intense battle ensued. It ended with the first squirrel taking a spot a few feet away chattering what I could only imagine were some of the foulest squirrel cursing words he knew. He moved to the next leaf nest a couple trees away and all ended well for the night.



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