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Into the Outdoors: Monarch Butterfly / Squirrel Hunting

Recently, I read a rather disturbing article from the National Wildlife Federation. They said that the monarch butterfly has been classified as endangered. I have not seen even one this summer, although I remember when they were common. One of their unique characteristics is that they lay their eggs only on milkweed plants, and that’s all the larvae eat. When I was a kid in grade school, (I don’t remember which grade) the teacher brought in a chrysalis, in which a monarch encases itself for pupation. We eagerly awaited the emergence of the butterfly. It never happened, but the experience was interesting nonetheless.

One of the biggest factors in the decline of these butterflies is the use of pesticides on milkweed. Without the milkweed, the monarch can’t survive. If you check on the Internet, there are places that will provide milkweed seeds to plant, sometimes free of charge. I would very much hate for these creatures to disappear entirely, especially since they were such a favorite of my late wife.

Every now and then, I catch myself reflecting on how quickly the years have gone by. It seems like I was a kid yesterday and an old geezer today. I’m now older than my doctor, the governor, both senators, and on and on and on. Given all of this, I find myself inclined to try and recapture some of that bygone youth. I know it’s futile, but I still keep trying.

This year, I plan to take a trip backward in time during squirrel season, by hunting the bushytailed critters with a 22 rimfire. While I have a number of these, my plan is to use the one I got for my seventh birthday. It’s a Mossberg bolt action, with a fold down forearm on the stock. I’ve taken excellent care of it over the years, and it still looks and shoots great. I had planned to do this a couple of years ago, but, like with so many other things, Covid got in the way. While I still have some lingering effects, I believe that, with the aid of a walking stick, I will be able to hunt squirrels once again.

You may wonder why, after so many years of hunting with a shotgun, I would consider going back to the rimfire. For one thing, I’ve seen a couple of neat magazine articles on the subject. This, coupled with the aforementioned desire to look back, helped me reach the decision.

Although our focus here is on rimfire, there are some who use 22 centerfires, especially the 22 Hornet, for squirrel hunting. My personal opinion is that this is a little too much power, unless you handload and really load them down. Given what a typical Hornet load does to a woodchuck, I’d hate to think what it would do to a squirrel.

Although the 22 rimfire magnum is an excellent cartridge, my preference is for the Long Rifle. It has plenty of power to kill squirrels at the ranges in which I am able to hit them. I know that purists go only for the head shot, but I’m not that fussy. The shoulder shot is easier to make, and meat damage is still minimal. Of course, with a single projectile, you don’t run the risk of biting down on a piece of shot, Further, the bullet doesn’t drive hairs into the meat like a shotgun charge does. It makes for easier cleaning and better, more relaxed eating.

I know it probably seems early to be writing about squirrel hunting, but the fact of the matter is that the old trigger finger is starting to get itchy.



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