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August 18, 2013

MARTINO: Hunting squirrels is tradition for many

Martino recalls squirrel hunt that sparked his passion for outdoors.

I always have liked the month of August. It was the month of my late father’s birthday and it also opens the door of the upcoming hunting seasons. It begins with squirrel season which comes into play Aug. 15. Then dove and the early goose season follow a few short weeks later and by October, the woods are filled with archers seeking deer.

I think for many, hunting squirrels was the gateway to a lifelong passion for the outdoors. I will always remember my first trip with my dad. Thick ribbons of sunlight sliced through the woods as dawn broke. The stump I was sitting on was cool and damp as my eyes surveyed the tree tops.

“Now it’s better to sit still and be quiet,” Dad said, before moving away to another stump.

It didn’t take long before small limbs twitched as a squirrel jumped from one branch to a tree directly in front of me. I look at Dad with eyes wide from excitement. He smiles and gives me the nod. The woods echo with the blast from my little .410 and I have my first bushytail. I remember looking back at my dad and getting his solid wink of approval. Something I rarely received back then as a rambunctious and I’m sure, annoying, child.

We move to another spot full of oak trees. I keep staring at the squirrel taken earlier, now laying on the ground beside me. It doesn’t take long before another moves through the network of branches. I get the nod from Dad and slide a cartridge in the gun, but this time with confidence. I soon have my second squirrel. I look over at Dad again for his approval. But this time a valuable lesson is learned.

In the thick stand of trees, the woods look the same. As I walk from tree to tree looking for that squirrel, Dad just sat there.

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