Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Part of our journey to a more self-sufficient lifestyle has involved constantly challenging our minds, looking for ways to save money and make things for ourselves. When my husband and I got ready for squirrel season this year, I started brainstorming ways to help us bag more squirrels in a shorter period, and soon started working on ways to mimic a squirrel call known as "cutting."
Cutting is the sound made by squirrels as they gnaw on the outer shell of acorns and different types of nuts such as hickory or walnut. While hunting last year, I remembered noticing that the squirrels would hide and be silent for quite a bit of time before becoming comfortable enough to come back out on the tree limbs and start eating again. How could I get them to emerge back in to plain sight within a brief amount of time, while being able to sit still and not have to move around more than necessary?
After a bit of experimenting with different items, I found out that it ended up being fairly easy to recreate the cutting sound using things found around our home. Not everyone hunts the same, so I know some people may not want to try these calls, but this is something that may be useful for those looking to bag some squirrels on a budget.
I highly suggest taking the time to listen to this cutting sound coming from the squirrels themselves, so that you know how to make the sound convincing. I also recommend paying attention to the time of day when squirrels are most active in order to catch them when they are moving around more frequently.
After I find an area with a good deal of squirrel activity and take my first shot, I then sit still and use one of these calls to help attract the squirrels back to the area. The sound of another brave squirrel eating after the sound of the shot seems to give the others the confidence to come back out sooner, and continue about their business in the trees.
All of these items are very easy to stick in your pocket and head to the woods with, and I have listed them in order of what has been most effective for us, so give it a try the next time you head out for a squirrel hunt. Please feel free to comment and let us know how these calls works out for you, or to share any other simple squirrel calls you may use!
Steel/Plastic Comb & Acorn or Other Nut
This has to be my favorite of the five calls, and I have used it multiple times with great success. Because it uses an actual acorn or other nut similar to what the squirrels actually produce the cutting sound with while eating, it is the most realistic and convincing in my opinion. I keep a small steel comb in the pocket of my hunting vest, and then search the ground as I walk for an acorn or two. When it is time to use this call, I hold the comb firmly in one hand and the acorn in the other. With a bit of pressure, I move the comb across the outer part of the acorn a few quick times. As with the rest of the calls mentioned, I don't do this consistently. I only make the noise for a brief moment before pausing to listen out for other squirrels, then continue making the sound a bit later on.
Two Plastic Knives
Another interesting call to try involves using the ends of two plastic knives. I personally cut the handles off on the ones I use to make them less bulky to hold, but they will make the same sound even if you do not do this. Holding one of the plastic knives in my hand vertically, I keep it still and move the other knife sideways across it to create the cutting sound. Again, use a bit of pressure while doing this.
Two Empty Shotgun Shells
If you are hunting squirrels using a shotgun, save two of your empty shells for this quick call! Hold one shell in each hand, with the open ends facing outward. Scrape the outer edges of these two open ends together to make the cutting sound.
A Screw and Two Popsicle Sticks
Take two popsicle sticks and tape them together in the middle. By using a small screw, you can then scrape the threads of the screw against the sides of the popsicle sticks. Taping two sticks together was more useful than using just one, because the screw splintered one too easily, and they also create a deeper cutting sound when taped together.
Out of the five calls listed, this is the one I least prefer, due to the fact that the metal does not give a terribly convincing sound. It also takes a bit of time to get the hang of making the quarters give off a loud enough call. But I have found it to work from time to time, so it is still worth a try if you have two quarters handy. Make sure that the quarters both have grooved edges, then hold one in each hand and rub the edges together to make your call.
Fala Burnette is a homesteader with her husband at Wolf Branch Homestead in Alabama. They are currently building a small cabin using lumber they have milled themselves, along with raising chickens, rabbits, & ducks. In Spring 2016, they will start growing a large crop of heirloom Indian corn that they will save to sell and make cornmeal with. Read all of Fala's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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