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Scratchin' the itch . . .
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Factor
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There's the time when things come together. What your itchin' for can finally be scratched. 'Specially when it's combined with two things: getting into the woods with a faithful flintlock and dreamin' of receipts on what to do with some limb bacon, should a few be bagged.

Such as this afternoon. Weather had faired, and I wasn't pushed for anything as far as I could tell. So I pulled on my wool socks and moccasins, flopped dad's ol' felt hat over my top knot, hung my huntin' bag over my shoulder, grabbed my English fowler, and lit a shuck for the long gray-blue spine of Gaither Mountain rising in the distance. I'd stop at it's foot, cross a meadow and get into a woodlot where I knew both fox and grey squirrels flourished. The woodlot fed down into a hollow which plunged into a prairie, then downward yet more till it joined a creek bottom watered by the west branch of Crooked Creek. The creek started somewhere up the heights of ol' Gaither.

I reached the edge of the meadow and noticed a couple of tufts a deer hair on the bottom run of the fence. This was deer rich country; the woodlot where I was headed had yielded up seven deer to me in the last three years. Plenty enough. But once in a while a fella needs a break in his eatin' habits: hence I'd go a'squirrelin'. So I headed across the meadow. Dreckly I spied a grey squirrel jumping into a thicket along a fence. I didn't linger knowing I was busted and two beady eyes was glaring at me from somewhere in there right then. At least I knew they were stirring . . .

More to come

Fiddlesticks


As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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The upper level of the woodlot is split by an old wagon road. Deliveries from the settlement were once made along it, teams of mules pulling wagons. The land is part of what once was a homestead. The deed is signed by Abraham Lincoln. I've seen a copy with my own eyes. Homesteader Jack was reared here. Yonder across the hollow is the house he grew up in, built in the 1890s.

I hoofed it across the meadow, headed for the old wagon road; piercing through a heavy thicket, it headed for the rim of the hollow. Soon 'neath the timber, I stopped, watched, listened. Nothing. Just a woodpecker here and there beating a tree. Once in a while a gust of wind. During those gusts I moved forward, easing past the place where I'd gutted a buck and doe laying side by side just weeks ago. Odd. The squirrel movement expected didn't seem to be. The grey in the meadow must've been the last one out foraging. Likely it was in a hollow tree snoozing, now. No matter, really. It was so good to be in the woods . . .

The fowler was cradled in the crook of my arm. Ever notice how it's not the same with any of other kind of hunting piece? Ever notice how you feel more alive with a remake of the ancient as a companion? so much easier to 'tune' yourself to the forest? Pleasant mystery! Carefully scoping out every step before taking it, I scanned the timber all around. Yet not deeply in, for it was too much of a thicket. But, you know you're in tune when you find the quietest places for your moccasins to land. And when your ears latch onto the faintest crackle of woodland floor, or when you hear the fall of the smallest twig from a tree, or the softest muffled voice of woodland being. And when your eyes pick up on the slightest movement: the flicker of a leaf at ground level, the darting bird from sapling to ground, or the odd shaped lumps on trunks and stones. And the worst silence is the lack of squirrels barking, whistling, whining, quarreling, and the worst blindness is not seeing a squirrel hustling, digging, or jumping about . . .

More to come.

Fiddlesticks

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As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Sounding good.
I remember a story or two of your's being published in Muzzleloader. And, your artwork to go with it. Wink I'd like to see more.
I'm leaving today on a week long scout down to the lowlands, so I'll be out of touch for a while. I look forward to reading more when I get back.


Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
 
Posts: 1262 | Location: Cherokee Land, Tenasi | Registered: 06 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of NWTF Longhunter
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Sticks, yer givin me the itch. I've been so busy lately I haven't even had time to get to the woods. I NEED to get out there for the sake of my mental health an if I'm lucky a change in my diet of deer meat. My Fowler "Ole Big Tom" is up to the farm still loaded with a round ball from the last time I carried it on the last day of deer season the 1st of the year. I'm gonna scratch that itch real soon, thanks to you. Continue yer story...PLEASE
 
Posts: 797 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 29 April 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Ya,I'm eagerly awaiting the finish,although I already know the Butler did it!


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1939 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of NWTF Longhunter
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quote:
Ya,I'm eagerly awaiting the finish,although I already know the Butler did it!


I don't think the Butler did it, I heard he was a vegetarian... Roll Eyes
 
Posts: 797 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 29 April 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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Get back to it quick as I can. Mighty busy today. You picked the butler before I even wrote him in! Doggies!---now I'll have to change some characters . . .

Fumin'Sticks

P.s. Ranco', watch yer step around them lowlanders. They ain't like us . . .


As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Free Trapper
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Waitin' with baited breath Mr. Sticks!!!


"They do not live their lives 'by your leave'! They hack it out of the wilderness with their own two hands, bearing their children along the way!" - Cora Monroe - "Last Of The Mohicans"
 
Posts: 186 | Location: Turkey Creek on Cimarron Drainage | Registered: 10 September 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Big Grin Razzer


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1939 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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The truth of the matter is simple. For a hunter to get his game it only happens one way: the hunter must be in a specific place, and the game must be there as well. Nothin' else works. And the game not showing up was keeping this hunter from making meat . . .

Time lagged long. But the sun through the treetops casting such friendly patches of light and warmth on the forest floor was enough to hold this hunter to his task. Especially as I'd been estranged from the woods for so long. I stepped . . . looked, watched . . . stepped again along the wagon road, listening earnestly. I love the woodsy language. Once learned it becomes a life's great pleasure. Thing is, nothing was speaking the words I was waiting to hear.

I finally slipped into a patch of pines overshadowing the way. In these parts squirrels won't be found in pines unless they're hiding or passing through to a hickory or oak somewhere else. I knew this to be such a place for that. A large pine lifted from a mounded place in the ground, a hump covered with a thick layer of needles. It was a fine sitting place, as restful as any camp stool. I thought it a fine spot to repose for the rest of the evening, if need be. I took the shady side---always keeping to darkened places---and leaned against the trunk. I prefer the comfort of pine bark at my back above all others. And so I resolutely set-to once more, scanning with eye and ear from earth to rocks, stumps, tree trunks, treetops, every place a squirrel's paw was likely to touch.

The thing about a thicket is that it can help just as well as hinder. Especially so for hunters with smoothbores needing close range. Hold still and be as well hidden as the game, which also looks through bushes and limbs, over rocks, around tree trunks, through blow downs. By using the thicket as it's found, the hunter 'melts in' among the forest creatures, becoming one himself---if he holds still, letting game move first. Watch for twitches, flutters, jerks, jumps. That waving leaf may be a squirrel's tail.

A couple of hours had passed. The sun lowered. My right leg went to sleep. I'd stand up. Lumbered to my feet, aligned myself inside the shadow of the pine's trunk, stood my fowler upright before me, moved nothing but my head, slowly. Watched. Listened. Waited. I'd heard a hawk whistle not long before. It helped me look for game to stir soon. Down the old wagon road before me was an ancient treetop, gradually moldering into the earth. I'd taken a couple of bucks there. Had seen plenty of limb bacon. There was a flutter on the side of a trunk just beyond that, where the thicket spread downward into the hollow. The flutter was the size and color of a dead oak leaf---had just a reddish tint to it. Then a ray of sun caught it clearly, the color changed to orange and the leaf became a fox squirrel's tail. Finally!---the evening stirring was beginning . . .

More to come.

Fiddlesticks

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Fiddlesticks,


As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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The head and body stayed behind the tree. Then the tail swished out of sight. Made me think I oughta move closer, maybe to the old tree top. But upon studying the ground I changed my mind. There was no good path across dry shuck leaves. I'd be caught in plain sight. So I waited. Waited some more, not knowing if my limb bacon had fed into the hollow or remained just out of sight over the hill 'mongst downed limbs and scraggly bushes. Until I heard the music!---an eruption of a squirrel in anger: a quick, quarreling staccato mixed with mad birdie chirps. Meant one thing. A squirrel was trying to run another one out of its territory. So the fox squirrel was still near, and now there were two! Only I couldn't see 'em. But all my waiting now leaped into excitement. There!---the fox squirrel boiled into sight on my side of the old treetop. And I kept a weather eye out for the other.

The foxie was still out of range. Now, my English fowler is a ten gauge. And it's a load to carry---'twould never do on a trek. It has a Getz barrel with plenty of 'meat' around the bore. And a large Chambers lock, fit for a musket flint. So, the woodwork of reddish walnut is husky enough to accommodate it all. It's built as stout as an ox and I call him Ol' Bull-Stout. Brass fixin's. I think of the piece as a civilian Brown Bess. The barrel is a tad shorter and the bore is a mite bigger, but it handles much the same. I had him loaded with 85 grains of 2Fg and the biggest dose of number 6s my Irish shot snake will fetch up. Gives me a few more steps of range than my 20 gauge, both being open choked. But that wily morsel of limb bacon, yonder, was still too far away . . .

Then into the open jumped the other squirrel like a frog into a pond. A grey. The two were more at peace now. They'd mess around in plain sight, then scurry off and gone. And I daren't budge an inch. My fowler yet stood butt to the ground in front of me. Off to my right, 'mongst the thickest tangle, came a bustling racket. I caught a flutter at ground level. Heard merry chirping, almost like a giggle. More music!---the sound of one grey squirrel chasing another (fox squirrels sound coarse, ugly at such times). So now there were two in front of me and two more to my right. Then I caught a glimpse of the second grey on the right. Next thing I knew, the foxie and its pal reappeared and I could watch all four at once. Those in the brush were within range, but dogged if I could see my way clear to shoot 'em. Not many open spots could I find, and they were mighty small. But I picked out a couple, drew Ol' Bull-Stout off the ground and slowly, carefully swung him around. Wrapped my thumb around the cock, drew back the massive flint. Began waiting for one of those greys to poke its noggin into a tiny clearing. I kept up with 'em best with my ears. They scurried about like a couple of pups. I softly swung my left foot their direction to get solid for the shot . . .

Along about then there came scuffling in the leaves behind me. Much nearer. And I knew that ground to be more open. I swiveled my head around, like an owl with rheumatiz'. There, across the wagon track, and on its haunches against a seedling, sat a grey. Nothing 'twixt me and it. Except that I was turned wrong. Slowly I moved my left foot back to where I'd had it, and gently brought the fowler about. The brass butt plate crept to my shoulder, the barrel lifting to eye level. The turtle settled on the squirrel's noggin. The gun obediently tetched-off. Another thing about good hearted Ol' Bull-Stout is how gentle he is when called upon to bellow forth shot and smoke. An easy push backward, a lazy little climb of fore-stock. The smoke cleared. My limb bacon lay peacefully by its sapling . . .

More to come.

Fiddlesticks

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As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Pilgrim
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If I keep reading this I'm gonna have ta get me a out of state license. It's like being right there with you. Thanks Smiler
 
Posts: 82 | Location: north georgia | Registered: 12 April 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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Thanks Brian, you're mighty kind. One more round oughta finish up.

Fiddlesticks


As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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The squirrel was left laying. I'd see if I could get another, as so many were all around. Squirrels are like deer: you can get away with slooow movements. It causes more curiosity than alarm. While watching from his limb, Mr. Bushytail has no idea that the long thing you're sliding a stick up and down in can reach up and knock him a'windin'. Besides that, if a morsel o' 'bacon hides from the thunder of your shot, and doesn't hear any more ruckus afterward, it'll come back out to snuffle up more acorns. So, I eased out my flask for a charge of powder, puuuulled out the wiping stick to puuuuuush down some wadin', etc. All done after priming the pan. I made sure of being squared with the pine's shadow, looooowered the stock back to the ground, became still as the tree trunk itself.

Expected to wait longer than this, though. Just beyond where the grey lay, the fox squirrel appeared again. Surprised me. It climbed a sapling in plain sight, but disappeared in a mess of old unshed leaves. I thought about lowering the boom on it, but it wasn't a sure enough event. Dreckly it came back out. By then, Ol' Bull-Stout was up, ready with another whiff of limb bacon in his snoot. But the morsel I so longed for disappeared behind a cedar. Then jumped over to a forked hickory. All I saw was it's orange tail creeping up the tree and vanishing. I could tell it was climbing into something and thought it was a hole, but found out later it'd gone through the fork to the other side. Now, beyond that hickory a tad and down the hill a mite was an old dead stump. I was still craning to find the foxie when I caught movement there. I looked and there sat the foxie's pal, the grey squirrel. The fowler's turtle settled on it's pate. The lock boiled it's little puff. T'BOOM! Came the gentle push, the lazy little lift. My limb bacon wound up laying neatly at the foot of the stump on t'other side away from me.

I called that good. Two or three is all I much care about at a time. I'd waited two and a half hours for the sight of a squirrel, then suddenly had five playing around me. 'Twas a'plenty.

Now, how to fix'em? Dumplin's are calling pretty strongly. But then how about a squirrel shepherd's pie? Or fry 'em, then bake 'em till their tender? Nah, dumplin's or a pie seems more rightsome. But . . . mebbe I need another'n to make sure there's enough by the time the meat's biled off'n'deboned. Mrs. Sticks won't eat'em with me, but that Longlegs the nephew will pile in on 'em like a coyote. Drat! Now I'm all conflicted! Please don't tell me I have to go a'huntin' again! Heh heh heh heh . . .

Finite

Fiddlesticks

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As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Sooo,have you considered teaching that hungry nephew how to hunt squirrels?


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1939 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Thanks for sharing,'Sticks.I was really looking forward to each installment....


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1939 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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Thanks 'Tooth. Yup!---took him a couple of times. He's pinin' to get back after 'em with a flint fowler.

Fiddlesticks


As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Free Trapper
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Great story 'Sticks! Helped me through a couple boring days at work! Thank ya kindly.


"They do not live their lives 'by your leave'! They hack it out of the wilderness with their own two hands, bearing their children along the way!" - Cora Monroe - "Last Of The Mohicans"
 
Posts: 186 | Location: Turkey Creek on Cimarron Drainage | Registered: 10 September 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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Thanks back at'cha 'Creek!

I enoyed the huntin', and the tellin' of it. I've salted those two away ('cept for one hind leg which was too bloodshot). But dogged if I don't need another'n. Hope to get after it soon.

I think I just heard Ol' Bull-Stout lowin' to go from yonder in the corner where he's leaning . . .

Fiddlesticks


As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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Went back to collect my other squirrel today. Never got off a shot. But doggies!---they were wary as turkeys. Saw and heard aplenty of 'em, but no amount of care or stealth could get me a shot. I've seen times when they were scarier than others, but this took the cake. They'd spook if a piece of bark fell from a dead snag. Or if woodpecker tapped a tree wrong. Anything would send them up a tree bellerin' their heads off. Instead of settling back down after a bit they'd high-tail it through the limbs leaving the area. Not just around me, but I could hear it all over the woodlot, from places where there was no way I could be detected. Afraid of their own shadows, I reckon. And hawks were working feverishly too, busy from the treetops to the ground. In pairs. That'd keep 'em mighty jumpy. In 57 years of huntin' limb bacon I'd never seen it like this.

The day was bright and nearly dead still. Sound was crisp in the air. Perhaps the main thing was that there's a cold, wet front fixin' to come through. Might be they were uptight about that. I know they were working hard at finding vittles. I got to the woods about 1pm figgerin' to get settled into a good spot before they started stirring (normally around 3pm), but they were already busy as a hive of bees. Likely had been all day. Maybe that's what had 'em so high strung. Plus the hawks.

Rats . . .

Skunked'Sticks


As long as there's Limb Bacon a man'll eat! (But mebbe not his wife...)
 
Posts: 4816 | Location: Buffalo River Country | Registered: 23 October 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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