My earliest squirrel hunt
...by Bill Byrd

This day still stands out in my memory even though it has to be 52 years ago that this incident occurred. I must have been 14 years old. It was my first ever fall day hunt for squirrels. I had three accomplises -- all football teammates. We decided to hit the woods for squirrels, and I carried my trusty .22 Marlin carbine rifle. It was scoped and ready for action.

The day was dominated by peering into the tree tops looking for moving squirrels, or even stationary squirrels looking down on us. We took turns shooting once a furry grey critter was spotted. "Hey Bill there he goes!" So I'd look in the general direction very intensely and say "...where, I don't see it." BOOM rang out the .410 full choke single shot shotgun, and a fat squirrel plopped by my feet on the ground. "OH..." I said "that's where he is."

Well this scenario was repeated most of the 3 hour hunt in those tall woods. If it wasn't a boom from the .410 shotgun, it was the crack of a .22 rifle. Regardless the scenario played itself out. "Bill there he goes!" Again I'd look in the general direction very intensely and say "...where, I don't see it." Then the squirrel appeared at my feet again. I squinted, it did everything to see those tree critters but just could't see them 'til they hit the ground. Obviously my shots were not on target.

We didn't have many opportunities to steal away and hunt as a small group so I believed I was on my own so far as this inability to see squirrels existed.

My salvation was to come the next May. I qualified for a learner's permit so my dad drove us to Dahlonega in north Georgia. He had to stop by Camp Glisson, a north Georgia Methodist youth camp, and visit someone there. On the way back to Buford, we stopped at the GSP office and I applied for my learner's permit. I passed, got my card, and asked to drive home.

I was driving well and we were approaching Buford when I went through an intersection and my dad said "Bill, didn't you see that?" Of course my reply was "...see what?" Dad said "that stop sign we just ran through." I replied, I didn't see it."

We pulled off on the side of the road. My dad removed his glasses and said "try these on. See if they make a difference."

Oh man did they make a difference! I could see leaves on trees, I could see birds clearly at the distance, signs jumped out at me, I saw individual pieces of gravel by the car. I needed glasses!! I understood why I never saw those squirrels in the trees before.

One trip to Atlanta and my eyes were as good as they should be. Everything I did improved. I could see the chalk board in school. I could see the baseball coming toward me much better. I could see critters, and I could hunt much better. It all made sense.

My last hunt with my friends when someone hollered out "Bill do you see that squirrel?" I shot my rifle, dropped it, and when it hit the ground said "yeah, I saw it." What a difference!!

- Bill Byrd


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