I called the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife the other day. Squirrels, I said to the guy, I want me some squirrels.
Seattle is overrun by thuggish non-native Eastern gray squirrels that strut about as if they own the place—and they're making life tough on the threatened Western gray squirrel. At a party before Christmas I talked to a friend who knew a bit about blowguns of all things. The gears started turning. My boy is crazy for poison dart frogs, which we check out at the zoo whenever we're there. I would get some poison dart frogs (from where I hadn't yet figured out) and...and make an extract from said amphibians! Then tag a few of our oh-so-cocky grays. But after a while that idea somehow lost steam and I was onto the notion of a slingshot. Yeah, knock 'em right off our fence as they prance about.
So I called WDFW. The game warden was understanding. He'd like to see a few of those fat Eastern grays in a nice gumbo too. But city laws trump anything WDFW has to say, and virtually every city of any size in Puget Sound—which is where the Eastern grays gangbang—has ordinances that prohibit projectiles of any sort. "You can't even throw a rock at them according to the law," he said to me sadly.
What's a squirrel gumbo fancier to do?
After that I started looking at Hav-a-Hart traps. But squirrels are notoriously hard to kill and the thought of trying to drown one—the humane option as sanctioned by WDFW—seemed like too much of an ordeal. The upshot is I plan to hunt squirrels the old-fashioned way—with guns—when I visit my brother-in-law in Arkansas.
In the meantime I've hooked up with the bass player of The Tallboys, a local old-timey music outfit, who's a couple years ahead of me on the hunting learning curve. For small game John uses a Savage Model 24, a combo .22 rifle and 20-gauge shotgun that collapses into a packable size. The other day we got an early start (see the sunrise over Lake Washington above) to scout some possible rabbitat near North Bend. The rabbits weren't a-hoppin', though we did flush a couple ruffed grouse and noted those locations for fall when the bird season opens. In a few weeks I take a Hunter Education class, four evenings of instruction capped by a visit to a shooting range.
The odyssey has begun.