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An uplifting tale about kids, parents, guns, and hunting. Some day the whitetail deer is the greatest game animal of all time, but the squirrel offers unique opportunities for young and old.
In Virginia, deer season ends as a new year begins. As such, most hunters put their guns away. However, I didn’t want the area youth to wait so long to get back into the woods so I did something. Through my youth foundation, The Green Bow Foundation, I created our first “Squirrel Scramble” to educate area hunters about the challenging fun of squirrel hunting and to help bridge a dormant span of hunting excitement between deer season and turkey seasons.
The Squirrel Scramble was held Jan 28, 2017 at the American Legion Post 247 in Remington, Va. Teams comprised of one adult and one youth paired up to hunt squirrels anywhere and any way legal, from half an hour before sunrise to noon. From noon until 1PM teams checked in and weighed their harvests to decide who would be our Squirrel Scramble champion.
Winners earned bragging rights and a Ruger American 22 LR Compact rifle. Mossberg also awarded the top male and female youth hunters with a Mossberg Blaze rimfire rifle. Second place netted a Simmons 22 Rimfire scope and third place a $25 gift certificate from Clark Brothers, a local firearms and outdoor equipment store in Opal, Va.
“I am thoroughly impressed with The Green Bow Foundation,” said Cainaan Nakamura, who used the Squirrel Scramble to introduce his son, Mason, to hunting for the first time. “From the day we registered for the event and even after the event was finished, we were met with happy, knowledgeable people that truly want to educate the youth (and the parents) about hunting and conservation. After meeting James Pinsky, the founder, I realized that this foundation is less about teaching the youth about responsible hunting and more about helping youth develop into responsible adults, that will have the confidence to make tough decisions and understand to results of those decisions.”
Like many parents, Cainaan took the Squirrel Scramble as an opportunity to mentor his child into the world of hunting, which quite frankly is the very best thing possible for this kind of event.“
“Our experience was great, not only during the event but also leading up to it,” Cainaan said. “Mason had to pass three (Dad imposed) guns safety tests before he could go on the hunt. The tests included a written test, memorization test, and practical exam. We began the hunt 30 minutes before sunrise and hunted until 11 a.m.,” said Cainaan. “There were very few squirrels that morning but I figured this would be the case since we were hunting squirrels. It seems like whenever you are hunting deer you typically see 1,000+ squirrels. Overall it was a successful hunt, I was able to experience my son take his first squirrel and watch him apply all the skills he had learned leading up to this hunt. Needless to say, he is hooked.”
The Squirrel Scramble did a lot more than challenge local hunters to harvest squirrels. It celebrated squirrels as a viable game animal in Virginia, with a seminar on the squirrels of Virginia by Green Bow Foundation’s senior conservationist, Dyllan Chapins. Additionally, American Legion Post 247 member and U.S. Army veteran Joe Cole taught participants about the proper field dressing, cleaning, and cooking of squirrels; two aspects of the event which weren’t lost on hunter and father Cainaan Nakamura.
“During the weigh-in and before the award ceremony we were able to learn all about the indigenous squirrels we were hunting, the proper way to process his kill, and even some different ways to prepare the meat. I really respected the balance of education that was married to the hunting portion of the event.”
In the end, the success of the Squirrel Scramble wasn’t seen in trophies, but in memories and one-of-a-kind moments. There were many, including seeing a mother and son – Tammy Lusk and Austin Shutt – hunt together for the first time. Austin wound up winning his division with an impressive harvest of a 2 pound 12 ounce fox squirrel with an air rifle.
A summer squirrel season in Virginia has inspired a second Squirrel Scramble for June 3, 2017. For more information about the Green Bow Foundation, visit the website www.greenbowfoundation.org
By: James Pinsky