“Livin’ on the road my friend, was gonna keep you free and clean” from “Pancho and Lefty” by Townes Van Zandt
I watch for the next road sign on I64. It will tell me how far it is to the next town and I can gauge my progress. I could ask the lady in my phone who now does almost all of my navigation, but I like to watch the signs. It’s dark and it’s late and I know that I should probably pull over and shut my eyes for a few minutes but I want to get home and sleep in my own bed, my bed. I keep the hammer down and the old Chevy hurtles through the cold night.
My mind wanders to how this all started. Last week the old truck took me to Charleston, West Virginia in the wee hours of the morning and I got on a plane to Atlanta. (We have to go to Atlanta from Charleston to go almost anywhere) I end up in Montgomery, Alabama and a car picks me up with a group of other outdoor writers, Rob Reaser, my editor for the Shoot-On.com website, Frank Melloni, gun writer and firearms instructor from NYC, (yes, I give him static about that) and others. Forty two minutes later we are at the Southern Sportsman’s Lodge for the start of the Squirrel Master Classic.
The Squirrel Master Classic is the brain child of Jackie Bushman, founder of Buckmasters, one of the first deer related magazines and Outdoor TV programs. Seven years ago Bushman was looking for a way to attract hunters back to their roots, small game hunting, where a lot of us began this journey as a hunter. Jackie Bushman’s idea was this, have a squirrel hunt in a fun competition atmosphere. Teams are made up of outdoor television personalities, outdoor writers and editors, a dog handler with a squirrel dog to find the squirrels for you, and most important a young person who is a 4-H shooter.
Gamo Air Rifles sponsored the event and supplied all the hunters with a Gamo Swarm Maxxim pellet rifle. The Swarm Maxxim is the world’s only ten shot break barrel air rifle and the 10X Quick Shot magazine allows the shooter to load ten pellets in the magazine, insert it into the rifle and fire ten quick shots before you have to reload. Believe me, we needed those quick second and third shots on this hunt as these squirrels had their running shoes on. Once they started running in the treetops, sometimes with spectacular leaps from tree to tree, you had to be quick or you came up empty handed. www.gamousa.com
The competition at the Squirrel Master Classic is handled by counting the total number of squirrels brought in by each team plus the results of an extensive shooting competition with the Gamo pellet rifles and Daisy BB guns. Believe me when I tell you that it is a lot of fun but the competition is intense. Everyone wants to bring home that coveted Squirrel Master trophy. At the end of the day when all the squirrels and targets where counted I was pleased for a couple of reasons to see the guys on Team Realtree to be named the winner.
The team for Realtree consisted of the guys on the video production crews, cameramen and producers; they were fired up when the contest started and worked had to win the day. Also West Virginia’s own Ronnie Sneadegar from Greenbrier County was the dog handler for Realtree and his Annie and Hammer dogs worked hard for the win. O yeah, one more reason, I was on the Realtree team and brought home my second Squirrel Master trophy! Life is good!
Next week in Part II it’s on to Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee and adventures with squirrel hunter Kevin Murphy and crew.