Squirrel and rabbit seasons — well, it’ll be mostly for squirrel hunters – open Saturday, and it means deer seasons aren’t that far behind.
Most folks taking to the woods for that first taste of getting the fixin’s for a squirrel sauce piquante will use shotguns for no other reason than trees are holding so many leaves. It’s much later, when the bushy-tailed critters can’t hide among the greenery when hunters will pack their .22 rifles.
If you want to try something new this year, then check out air rifles. The new models come in .22 calibers, and muzzle velocity (with the right ammo) is comparable with long-rifle .22 bullets.
The downside is it’s one bullet at a time as opposed to magazine-fed .22s, but the upside is a modern air rifle can be equipped with telescopic sights and can be as accurate as your standard .22 rifle to a certain distance. And, as veteran hunters know, you shouldn’t take long-distance shots at squirrels. It’s not safe, if only because those .22 bullets fired at high trajectories can find targets other than squirrels in trees.
With any weapon, practice makes perfect and you’ll need time on a range with an air rifle to find out accuracy at distances of up to 50 and 60 yards.
At the range
With primitive and modern weapons seasons drawing nearer by the day, don’t wait until the week before the season to check out your rifles.
The trouble you had at the end of last season didn’t go away in the months since you stored that rifle in January.
And, you need to sight-in the weapon.
The East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes’ sheriffs departments have opened their ranges for sight-in days, and, hopefully, will continue to forward the info about dates and times.
Hopefully, too, other law enforcement agencies open their ranges and will send along their information.
If you need gunsmithing work on your hunting weapon, now is the time to get it done. If you don’t know a gunsmith, then most local outdoors shops and stores in your area have, or know of, gunsmiths. Just ask.
Check this out
What luck! Received a copy of “Bushcraft Illustrated” during the summer. It has a subtitle, “A Visual Guide,” and came from Dave Canterbury via Adams Media and Simon and Schuster Publishing.
With the attributes out of the way, know Canterbury is a co-owner and instructor at Pathfinder School, so the guy knows whereof he speaks, or writes.
At first glance, “Bushcraft” looks to backpackers and hikers for its primary audience.
Then you get into knives, hatchets and axes, and sections on knot tying and what Canterbury calls “firecraft,” and you know hunters can benefits from most of its 250 pages (it’s 240 pages in paperback).
Learning how to build a fire in what mostly are wet conditions (OK, not during these hot days) is a must for anyone who ventures into Louisiana's woods, swamps and marshes. Fire can be used as a signal, warmth on a cold night, or to save a life when hypothermia threatens.
Canterbury also has instruction and illustrations covering setting traps for food and to rid camps of nuisance animals, a catalog of edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, first aid tips including how to use a tourniquet, make splits and treating sprains, snake and insect bites and blisters in the field — even going as far as how to make a stretchers, splints and slings.
There’s a fascinating section on making a tools you might need if caught in the backwoods.
It was a good read with loads of information, and will have a spot on my bookshelf next to Reader’s Digest’s “Back to Basics” and “North American Wildlife” and the Audubon Society’s bird books. I usually wait until Christmas to suggest good books, but this one needs reading before and during the hunting seasons.
The latest from the coast is the “pretty” water around Grand Isle is fish-less, and the best action is coming east and west, east toward Four Bayous Pass and west toward reefs, runs, rigs and shorelines south of Cocodrie and Four Point.
While the action slowed in the Atchafalaya Spillway around September’s full moon, don’t give up on the place. Potential hot spots range from Flat Lake on the south up to the Bayou Pigeon area, even into upper Bayou Sorrel on the north. The water’s low, so punching mats and casting spinnerbaits and buzzbaits around stickups off the banks is the best bet for bass, and deep brush is the place to find sac-a-lait.