I couldn’t deny it felt like coming residence. When the automotive turned down the lane to the Southern Sportsman Searching Lodge, I knew I’d see outdated mates and really feel proper at residence. I walked up on the porch, opened the door, walked into the entrance room and it actually felt like I had been right here simply yesterday.
The Southern Sportsman, close to Hayneville, Alabama, doesn’t appear to alter a lot.
Deer and turkey mounts adorn the partitions, and the cozy couches and simple chairs appear to entice you to take a seat a spell and soak all of it in. I at all times wander towards the kitchen to say hiya to the women who do all cooking there and to pay homage to the rows of images on the wall. From again within the day, celebrities from sports activities, leisure, politics and different walks of like are proven. All of those folks have hunted right here and loved the hospitality of this historic looking lodge.
A lot of them had been right here looking with Jackie Bushman, father of the Buckmasters deer looking group (and its related magazines and tv applications) and creator of the Squirrel Grasp Traditional.
Eight years in the past, Bushman was in search of a method to entice hunters again to their roots — small sport, the place a variety of us started our looking journeys. Bushman’s concept was to have a squirrel hunt in a enjoyable however aggressive ambiance. Groups are made up of out of doors tv personalities, open air writers and editors, a canine handler with a squirrel canine to seek out the squirrels for you and — most essential of all — an adolescent who’s a 4-H shooter. The 4-H shooters are actually the explanation the occasion exists, as a result of the last word purpose is to introduce younger hunters to the world of small sport.
Airgun producer Gamo sponsored the occasion and provided all of the hunters with a Gamo Swarm Magnum pellet rifle. The Swarm Magnum is the world’s solely 10-shot break-barrel air rifle, and the 10X Fast Shot journal permits the shooter to load 10 pellets within the journal, insert it into the rifle and fireplace 10 fast photographs earlier than reloading.
Consider me, we wanted these fast second and third photographs on this hunt as these squirrels had their trainers on. As soon as they began operating within the treetops, generally with spectacular leaps from tree to tree, you needed to be fast otherwise you got here up empty handed.
Out within the squirrel woods, Nick Mundt and Michael Waddell of the “Bone Collector” TV present regarded somewhat frazzled. They had been working the motion of their Gamo air rifles as quick as they may, aiming to the highest of a really tall oak tree and pulling the set off. Sadly for them and the remainder of our staff, they weren’t connecting with their goal, a really quick and really agile grey squirrel who was displaying off with treetop acrobatics. This squirrel was good, he was quick and he wasn’t sticking round to get shot at anymore. This little tree-dwelling rodent was gettin’ out of Dodge.
Full disclosure: I may have been taking pictures, too, and I ought to have been, however I used to be making an attempt to take footage and video, so I used to be no assist with the squirrel. Certainly one of our canine handlers for the day, Shane Mason, stood watching the entire present with some dismay and supplied phrases of encouragement akin to: “Boys, will one in all you please hit that squirrel!”
This little vignette was being performed out in an attractive piece of nation not removed from Hayneville — the city is a couple of half-hour southwest of Montgomery — and we had been the visitor of Neal Pettus, who as our information confirmed us round some fantastic squirrel woods.
As with most good issues, the Squirrel Grasp Traditional is at all times over a lot too quickly.
On the finish of the second day of looking, everybody gathers spherical and the squirrels taken by every staff are counted. There’s a lot anticipation as Bushman is joined by Lawrence Taylor from Gamo in counting every squirrel. Our staff was feeling fairly assured as a result of we had taken a document 33 squirrels the day earlier than. When it was all accomplished, nonetheless, it was to not be. Whereas our hard-charging Bone Collector staff had taken 59 squirrels in two days, the Raised Searching staff introduced in a whopping 60!
There have been many high-fives and far again slapping, to not point out some very completely happy however drained squirrel canine.
I went again to the lodge and walked by means of yet one more time earlier than leaving. The massive buck and turkey mounts, in addition to the photographs of soccer gamers and nation singers from the previous appeared to say “See you subsequent time.” I assured them I’d be again.
“Weapons & Cornbread” is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You possibly can write to him at [email protected]