First successful hunt

Here is the story of my first successful hunt.

I went out on a whim because I looked out the window and saw several squirrels across the street. So I grabbed my utility belt, my recently constructed slingshot, and the round rocks I found the day before. I took my poncho out and put it on, despite the fact that it was sunny out. I wagered that the benifit of breaking my outline would be greater than the drawback the bright blue color posed. Of course, I would look weird to the suburbanites around me, but I also figured that most of them were at work.

I’ve been taking shots at squirrels for a few weeks now. I’m not a really good shot, so I don’t really expect to hit anything. I’d hit two so far, but both times to no effect other than startling them. one of those two squirrels was an albino, which I thought was very interesting and regarded as a good omen. That was last week.

The two squirrels across the way saw me as soon as I went outside. The first ran up a tree, but it was low enough that I took a few shots at it anyway. Then I lost sight of it. I followed the second one down a cut through path to a courtyard in the back of an apartment building. It started to climb a wall, and though I wasn’t going to shoot at it for fear of breaking windows, I still followed it. Suddenly another squirrel dropped out of a gutter and started to loudly scold me. While it distracted me, the other squirrel got to the roof, and when I turned to see it go over the edge, the new one ran back up the drainpipe. I think I found a mated pair.

So I went walking again, deciding to round the block and go home. I saw a few more squirrels, but I’m picky about my shots because I don’t want to break anyone’s things or otherwise get angry homeowners.

Then I came apon a squirrel digging right next to the sidewalk. There were bushes to one side, and a lot of open land to the other, and I was upwind. I cut over so the bushes were between it and me, and I did my best foxwalking. I got to within 15 feet before it noticed me, and took off to the nearest tree. Normally I wouldn’t shoot at a moving target, because I suck. but I decided to just go for it anyway, and let loose.

The stone connected, and the squirrel leaped in the air. The others had done this, and I expected him to recover and scamper up the tree. Instead, he kept leaping and flipping over and over again. When he stopped jumping, I ran over to him. I could best describe what was happening as a seizure. I tried to put him out with a hit to the head using the slingshot handle, but I couldn’t connect solid. At this point I realized that I had not been expecting to actually hit one, so I wasn’t properly equipped to deal with this. He was suffering, and I couldn’t help yet. I ran home at top speed and got my work gloves, then ran back.

He lied there and bleeding out his nose, Breathing heavy and irregularly. I tried to cut his throat with my knife, but couldn’t make an incision. I gave him a strong hit to the head with the hilt of my knife, but that made him jump again. At this point some pedestrians walked by and a women parked her car and went to her house, walking right past. I was quite embarrassed because here I was, with a very unclean kill, and they surely thought I was just torturing the poor squirrel. I kinda felt like I was. I had been under-prepared and it was suffering badly. I couldn’t kill it, not from lack of will, but lack of knowledge.

I picked him up, apologizing that I had been unable to do this properly, and that he was suffering. As I began to carry him home, I asked him what he wanted me to do. At this point, he spoke quietly to me in his squirrel language, a few weak chitters. I don’t really know what he said, but it reassured me. When I got home I filled a bucket with water, because the two squirrels I’d drowned in the trap had not suffered nearly as badly as this one. But by the time I put him in, he had already stopped breathing. I washed the blood and piss off him, and went to work skinning and gutting.

It wasn’t until I had finished and put about an hour between the end and myself that I finally felt accomplishment at having successfully hunted. I still feel mixed about it. The hid is drying next to me, I’ll scrape and tan it tomorrow. The meat is in the freezer, and I intend to take it as part of my contribution to a pot luck barbeque this weekend. Once I share the meal with others, the story will be complete.

Thanks for sharing your adventure, Andrew.

I had a similar situation once where I felt the need to put a hutch rabbit out of its misery after a feral dog had bitten it through the cage. I thought I could simply slit its throat and make a quick end to things, but as I felt under its neck at all the fur and something like a gland and tried to slit the blade through it all, I realized that I had no idea how to end it quickly and that I would probably end up hurting the rabbit more than helping it.

I don’t know why I didn’t just get a rock or hammer nearby to bean it with, but I ended up putting it in the truck with me and taking it to the summer camp where I had worked and getting one of the .22s from the rifle range and shooting it in the head. All the other animals I had killed in the past, I had done so with a gun, so this made the most sense to me at the time – and seemed like the swiftest way to help the rabbit die.

After the whole event, I realized that my original lofty goals of killing, skinning and eating it faded in light of the nervousness I felt over not knowing how to help it quickly. I lost my constitution and found myself carrying it into the woods and leaving it for those who knew how to tend to its death better than I did.

Just some thoughts from an outside perspective on your hunt:

Could you have shot the squirrel again at close range to end its life faster? Should you carry a stout stick with you next time to better accomplish what you tried to with your slingshot handle?

Again, thanks for sharing this story. It makes me want to get started on making a slingshot (a project I have had in mind for too long) and get proficient with it. It also gives me a lot to think about in terms of what to do after the shot if it doesn’t kill quickly.

When I put out rabbit snares, I carry an 18" long piece of a hickory ax handle with me to finish any rabbits that might still be alive.

This next part might make some a bit queezy so be warned.
I was taught to cut an animals throat by a person who slaughtered sheep. It’s very difficult to cut through all that sheep wool to get at the throat. The way I do it (this is how I always do it on any animal) is to use a knife with a sharp point, stand behind or over the animals back so you are looking at the back of the head. Hold the head steady. Stab the knife into the neck from the side, with the cutting edge of the knife facing away from you, then push forward/away from you. This way you are getting right to the artery without having to cut through a bunch of hair and skin first.

Hope that helps for the next time you have to do this.

Next time I’m going to try to break the neck with a sharp twist. If that doesn’t work and I’m close to home, I’ll use the ax. Failing those two, I’ll try your method, heyvic.

Stab the knife into the neck from the side, with the cutting edge of the knife facing away from you, then push forward/away from you.

Thanks for sharing your method, heyvictor. That makes sense.

Next time I'm going to try to break the neck with a sharp twist. If that doesn't work and I'm close to home, I'll use the ax. Failing those two, I'll try your method, heyvic.

I didn’t think of wringing the neck. More good ideas.

“I didn’t think of wringing the neck. More good ideas.”

Yeah that works good on small critters. That’s what I do with wild turkeys. They are very tough birds. I’ve had turkeys that I thought were down for good, all of a sudden get up and take off. So I always wring their neck as soon as I get to them.

A little bit off topic: let’s say you go to finish an animal, the animal bites you, and transmits a disease. What’s the best protection against something like that from happening?

That’s why I carry the ax handle when checking snares. I feel a lot more comfortable bonking them than trying to pick them up while they are still alive.
For large animals like a deer, if I had a gun I’d shoot them in the head. If I didn’t have a gun, cutting the throat like I described is a good way. I sit on the deers back, hold the head firmly either by the antlers or if it has no antlers I get a good grip on an ear. Watch out for those antlers though! Then do the deed as described above. I’ve done this many times. You need to maintain your grip on the animal until you are sure it’s over.

I apologize if this all sounds callous and unfeeling. I really don’t approach it that way. But like I have said before, the best way to deal with these situations is to know what you are doing and deal with it in the quickest most efficient manner, without hesitating. After this business is taken care of there will be time to grieve and make your prayers.

To finish the story, I took the squirrel to a BBQ a friend was having, and broiled it over coals in a foilpack with mixed veggies and wild garlic. It was pretty good. A few people tried it but noone had more than a bite besides myself. I finished it up for lunch today, haveing determined that my wife was still uninterested in trying some. (though she watched me skin it.)

what a neat story. I’m hesitant to go hunting for squirrels for exactly the same reason, I don’t want to torture the thing. And before I kill one I want to know what to do with its hide, meat, and bones, so that I’m not wasting the poor guy’s life. That slingshot idea sounds pretty cool. I’m wondering what kind of cordage you used for it. And wringing the neck sounds like a great way to preserve the skin and fur.

If you ever find yourself blessed with a freshly dead animal but you don’t know what to do with it, freezing it will usually keep it in usable condition until you’re ready to work with the body.

yeah, if I can sneak a dead squirrel past my mom…

I recently pulled out the old slingshot we had laying around and also tried my hand at making one. The thing is, I can’t seem to make my aim any better for the life of me. Any suggestions?

As it relates to hunting, at least, I’ve found that I can get really close to animals without them running away, so I could probably manage shots at a pretty close range. But if I can’t hit them it’s still useless.

From my experiences, the aim with the slingshot lies all in the technique.
I remember my friend at school (boarding school, with the dorms and shit :{)
had a slingshot and was really good with it. A flying jelly bean usually doesn’t hurt, but when you get hit in face with one cruising at the speed of light, that bean stings like crazy.

for some reason this makes me laugh hysterically. ;D

yeah, it was pretty funny, for him.
Oh and if you see someone aiming a penny at you, RUN.

Just some dorm survival tips.

Once I was on shift and we found an injured dog on the side of the road…it was pitiful that we tried to kill it and could not. Try to break a dog’s neck, not easy. My partner was someone who prided himself of being a big tough skinhead (but still a nice guy) and HE could not do it. Actually I could see it was affecting my partner’s spirit, I could see he just really wanted to cry about the whole thing. We had to have animal control fetch it.
It really is not a light thing to take a life, even some poor injured dog…so whenever I have hunted or whatever, it is always with respect. It really is tougher than you might first think… That lifespark is a sacred thing…
I would rather find some fresh roadkill…

The best turkey I ever had was fresh killed, a friend called and said, come and get it the blood is still running. Best damn turkey I ever had, cleaned it plucked it roasted it. And for a wild turkey is was a big 'un…easily more than twenty pounds…
Or the wounded deer I found in a ditch one night and carried it on my shoulders to a friend’s house after I called first {it was after midnite). She got to kill it, cuz it was like an initiation into that mystery; the effect on her was profound, and it was as it had to be… I had more familiarity with hunting, so it was not my first deer kill…I do believe it would be good for anyone at some time to be part of a hunt, if they eat meat, it is more real than just buying it at the store wrapped in plastic.