Missouri squirrel season now underway

Saturday, May 30, 2015
Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation/ A happy angler admires a crappie he caught while floating and fishing.

Nevada Daily Mail

With the big unofficial start of the summer outdoor season, campers, boaters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts were ready to take advantage of the holiday. However, hunters like Randy Harper, Clinton, were able to get a jump start on the big weekend.

Squirrel season in Missouri starts on the fourth Saturday in May, so last Saturday the long season opened with a daily limit of 10 and possession limit of 20 squirrels. The squirrel season runs through February 15, 2016. Harper is one of the few squirrel hunters who doesn't mind the heavy ground cover, ticks, heat and mosquitos of the early season for a chance to take some squirrels.

"When I'm out there I am thinking about how good it will be to have fried squirrel with biscuits and gravy for breakfast," he said. " There are several things I like about early season squirrel hunting including not many other hunters. Last year, I never saw another hunter in the woods where I was hunting. I know the number of squirrel hunters are down, but the number of squirrels are up and that makes it good for me."

The 62 year-old-squirrel hunter got his start when he was a 6-year old by following his big brother in the woods. "I tagged along and learned a lot about squirel hunting. My brother showed me where to look for the bushy-tails and what to expect from them. By the time I was in high school, I would spend nearly every weekend in the squirrel woods. Today, I don't walk nearly as far as I used to and the hills have grown higher and the trees a lot higher, but I still manage to bag a few squirrels. I still use my 22 rifle and try to hit the target in a place where it won't hurt the meat. It's a lot easier to shoot one with a shotgun, but when you bite into a pellet, you go back to the rifle," he said.

Another early season squirrel hunter is George Watson, Oak Grove, who was in the Jackson County woods near Lone Jack last weekend. "It didn't take long to get four reds and two grays. I had a great start of the season. Although the daily limit was raised from six to 10, six squirrels is plenty for me," he said.

Another season that opened May 23, was the bass fishing in Ozark streams. Fred Thompson, Springfield, hit the Eleven Point River Sunday and caught several smallmouth bass with the largest weighing close to three pounds. "It was a great way to start the season. I had caught several smallmouths earlier, but had to release them since the season wasn't open, but I usually would release them anyway. The way they fight I would like to give other anglers a chance to experience the same feeling I get when a nice bass hits," he said.

Thompson has caught smallmouths this spring from Stockton where the state record smallmouth was taken back in 1994. That fish weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces.

"I know there are some big smallmouth in the lake, but there's nothing like floating down an Ozark stream and catching smallmouth," he said.

Another Springfield angler, Jim Walker, was fishing on Stockton this week and his first catch was a big crappie that weighed close to two pounds. He saw lots of bluegill in the clear water of the lake so he got some worms and started picking up a bunch of bluegills to go along with the crappie. He said, "Stockton is my favorite lake. I have fished it for more than 40 years and have caught lots of fish including my largest, a 25 pound flathead catfish."

With the first big holiday weekend just ending, safety is the key to enjoying it to the fullest, so play it safe when in or on the water.

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