Squir­rels Wal­lop Kid­dos

McDonald County Press - - FRONT PAGE -

A rainy Satur­day gave squir­rels the up­per hand when Young Out­doors­men United took a pas­sel of young­sters squir­rel hunt­ing. The kids en­joyed time out­side and the meal that fol­lowed.

Stormy weather and un­co­op­er­a­tive squir­rels got the best of lo­cal kids dur­ing the Young Out­doors­men United Squir­rel Hunt and Din­ner event held the day af­ter Christ­mas. Even though hunt­ing con­di­tions were far less than per­fect, the 10 youth ages 5 to 15 stalked the woods and learned to sit si­lently and mo­tion­lessly in hopes of spy­ing an un­wary bushy­tail. Need­less to say, not a sin­gle squir­rel was spied.

In spite of the blus­tery, wet con­di­tions, the young hun­ters suc­cess­fully ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand how to iden­tify spe­cific species of trees such as white oak, red oak, hick­ory, and pecan, plus fallen nuts and acorns that all pro­vide good wildlife food. The girls and boys, many of them first-time squir­rel hun­ters, also were ed­u­cated about the size and weight of grey and red squir­rels, breed­ing sea­son, ges­ta­tions pe­ri­ods, and litter sizes. They learned that hun­ters in Mis­souri har­vest 1.5 mil­lion to 3 mil­lion squir­rels an­nu­ally.

When the weather fi­nally forced the kids, par­ents and vol­un­teers to cease hunt­ing, they all gath­ered in­side the Pineville Chris­tian Church for a din­ner menu of squir­rel stew, squir­rel and noo­dles, brown beans and ham, and corn­bread. The pip­ing hot meal was ap­pre­ci­ated by ev­ery­one — but prompted 5-yearold Jax­ton Hooper of Jane to say “I don’t wanna eat squir­rel.”

He was asked if he would like a bowl of beans in­stead. “Nope,” he replied. But af­ter sev­eral min­utes had passed, he was ob­served car­ry­ing a bowl of squir­rel noo­dles back to the ta­ble. When re­minded about his ear­lier com­ment, he quickly re­joiced with a great big smile, “I ate some and I like it; this is my sec­ond bowl full.”

The hands-on hunt­ing seg­ment pro­vided an ed­u­ca­tional les­son of the out­doors for many of the kids, but it seems like the din­ner at the event also of­fered some type of les­son, too.

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED

Ded­i­cated Squir­rel Hun­ters: front row from left, Jax­ton Hooper, Hay­den Hooper, Jette Akins, Jeremiah Lowe; and back row from left, Cody Richard­son, Ian Camp­bell, Zack Ste­wart, An­drew Moritz, Luke Guss, Cheyenne Knott.

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