Mary Clary, a GWG & Field Editor for Universal Hunter Magazine, shares a guest post on the blog with us from her experience at the Squirrel Master Classic.
We had just gotten home from the Safari Club International Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, when we got a call from Fedor Palacios of Gamo. He invited me to the Squirrel Master Classic, 2nd Edition in Montgomery, Alabama to be held on February 18th. It sounded like fun, but I had never been squirrel hunting before, so I suggested Jim should go. He then insisted that I go and after a little back and forth, I agreed.
This whole adventure came about because Jackie Bushman (Buckmasters) and Michael Waddell (Bone Collector) were remembering their youthful adventures in the woods hunting squirrels. As they reminisced, a spark of genius happened. What if they held a competition to help introduce kids to the Outdoor Sports and hunting by having a squirrel hunt?
They broached the idea to GAMO Outdoors and Fedor Palacios, planner extraordinaire, and the Squirrel Master Classic was born. What a magnificent idea, as so many of us learned to love the outdoors, shooting and hunting in just this way. I learned on prairie dogs in the Land of Enchantment, but it turns out my son-in-law has located some awesome squirrel hunting grounds near us and the plan is to go this fall.
On February 17th, I flew out to Montgomery, Alabama where the airport has one baggage claim, one gate and a lovely young woman giving out free water and snacks; Southern hospitality at its finest. After I gathered my bag and rented a car, I drove the 25 or so miles on the Selma highway to Southern Sportsman's Lodge.
After my arrival, I was given a room with two other young ladies: Hilary Dyer of Grandview Outdoors and Stephanie Mallory of Realtree PR fame. We were all given a GAMO bag full of goodies and a GAMO air rifle. I got a Whisper G2 .22 caliber pellet gun with a scope sight.
Out to the range I went to sight it in and, with a little help, I got it done. Dead on at 25 yards, then inside for some hot coffee. With the Eastern Seaboard experiencing a cold snap, Alabama was frigid.
As it happened, our hunt was held on the coldest day of the year! It was 19-degrees when we set out the next morning.
The lodge provided us with a guide and our team was lead by Travis (T-bone) Turner of Bone Collector fame, with a dog and handler. We also had several press folks and a young 4-H lad named Will.
Our dog, a Feist, led the way. Feists are small hunting dogs developed through cross-breeding and there are breed rules. They can't be over 19 inches tall or weigh more than 30 pounds. These dogs are continually trained and compete on a weekly basis. Our dog ran ahead of our truck and would veer off into the woods and to the base of a tree barking and yipping for the humans to hurry up and get there. One very quickly learns to trust the dog.
It was not long until our dog spotted our first squirrel, huddling in a nest trying to stay warm. A hail of .22 pellets later and the little guy was in the bag. A few more traipses through the woods and four more squirrels succumbed to Team Bone Collector II. It was then time for lunch, served in the dining hall at Southern Sportsman's, and a weigh-in and count at the leader board. We were at least in the running, with everything depending on the afternoon hunt.
As we went out for the second half of the day, it was a balmy 33-degrees, which felt warm compared to the morning. Unfortunately, there were no squirrels out and we came back empty-handed.
After all the teams returned and all the weighing-in was done, Team Bone Collector I ended the day victorious and took home the trophies. There was a great deal of good-hearted ribbing among the celebrities and team members and fun was had by all.
As the evening wound down, I found Will's mom and told her how impressed I was with her son. He was an excellent shot. It turns out the 4-H kids were required to qualify to attend this event. I was also impressed by Will's graciousness, as we hunted all day. He is already a sportsman.
This young man and all the other 4-H members are really what this event was all about. I am truly honored to have been a part of it and look forward to next year (hint, hint). Our kids are tomorrow's hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, so it is up to us to get them out there.
I would like to personally thank Norissa Harman of Girls With Guns Clothing for providing me with some really cool camo shirts for the hunt. Unfortunately, it was so cold that they did not show up outside (under our heavy jackets), but I wore them around the lodge and on the plane upon returning home. I did get compliments. Folks wanted to learn more about the GWG clothing. Hopefully, it will be warmer next year, so Norissa and I can get some pictures in the field.