Small-game relief: Channel your inner 8-year-old and chase squirrels and rabbits with the .22

Sick of the deer world and the obsession with big bucks? You’re not alone. Peterson is too, which is why he is spending more and more time with his back to an oak tree and a .22 cradled across his lap.

Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, or maybe it’s a little burnout from being in the outdoor industry for quite a while, but I find myself growing tired of hearing about big deer. The antler obsession in our ranks has grown to immense proportions and personally, I’m worn out.

I keep asking myself where the enjoyment is aside from taking possession of a big rack and the bragging rights that come with it? I also find myself walking into the woods with a .22 rimfire more and more. It reminds me of a youth spent in southern Minnesota thinking the next best thing to dying and going to heaven was getting to squirrel hunt.

At the time, I wanted to kill my limit of squirrels every time I sat down with my dad. I don’t remember ever even getting close to that, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. These days, I don’t want a limit of squirrels. I want to take a couple of really good shots and end up with a few squirrels to put in the crockpot.

Honestly, that’s only partially true.

I’m also looking for some time in the February woods where I can relax. The squirrel hunting is a bonus, and if I’m being totally truthful, my latest hunts contained very little shooting. It’s to the point where I only take a perfect shot at a squirrel while he (or she) is on the ground. Those parameters, which I enforce simply by my desire to sit in a quiet, undisturbed woods, probably seem strange to some folks.

I get that; I just don’t care.

Maybe I’m just too comfortable on this soapbox, but I’m starting to believe more of us would feel better in life if we picked up our .22s and put our backs to an oak tree at sunrise to watch the woods awaken. It might not be the right medicine for everybody, but it feels about right for this particular squirrel hunter. So that’s what I’m going to do until the calendar page turns from February to March.

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