A huge Nuge goodluck huntseason 2018 to all my American hunting BloodBrothers across the hinterland! I know many of you are already kicking off the earliest seasons for deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, caribou, sheep, goats, bear, bison, muskox and even some of that exotic, always thrilling big-game excitement in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Texas and beyond.
Heck, the earliest seasons for deer opened up in California and Florida back in July, and hunters have been chasing bear and pronghorn for a good month already.
And of course, the glorious unlimited Texas exotic, hog, varmint and lion seasons run all year long!
Ain’t it grand!
The vast majority of North American big-game hunters don’t get serious about unleashing our natural predator instincts until the magic month of October when the air begins to cool down and actually feel like hunting season, but us reasoning predators do not live by big game alone, and to my way of thinking, small-game hunting is just as exciting as stalking the world record moose in the Yukon!
I have to believe that somewhere in the 90 percent range of hunters out here like me were brought up hunting small game like dove, rabbits and squirrels.
Along with pheasants, woodcock and ruffed grouse, I still get a genuine thrill stalking the uplands for all the different small game there is to be had.
Being a hopeless dog guy, just getting out with my Labs Happy and Sadie represents a primo quality-of-life endeavor that I truly look forward to each fall just as much as deerhunting the pre-rut.
But hunting small game with dogs isn’t the only way to go about it.
Some of my best days afield are with my bow and arrow or .22 revolver in the big timber, swamps and edges sneaking around honing my stalking skills seeking bushytails.
Back in the early days of the rebirth of bowhunting, our cedar arrows tipped with blunts or Judo heads didn’t cost an arm and a leg like todays arrows do, so we were more inclined to randomly fling a shot here and there at the smaller critters without the fear of a loud wallet draining cha-ching alarm going off in our heads.
If a guy or gal can improvise, adapt and overcome such fears and more carefully pick our arrow shots, still using Judo heads, we can still take some nice, delicious small game with our bows and have a genuine riot doing so without losing expensive arrows in the process.
This slow and easy early season predator reawakening goes a long way in returning us to the essential stealth mechanisms that we must revitalize for effective big-game hunting coming up.
With heavy late-summer foliage and woodland leafy canopy, picking out a sneaky little limbrat overhead will teach us much about that necessary higher level of awareness we will need to make effective deadly moves on that wily old whitetail soon.
Moving ultra-slow and sneaky in our favorite woodlot, using our eyes and ears more than our feet will upgrade our critter radar. Catching a fox squirrel on the ground working on its winter nut gathering routine brings a great sense of accomplishment, and nothing demands our deerhunting aim-small-miss-small, pick-a-spot shot mantra like hitting a small-game target under real field conditions.
Over many years I have actually trained myself to think squirrel when drawing down on deer and other big game, literally envisioning a squirrel in the pocket of my target animal. When you can consistently zap such small targets, big-game vitals are a gimme.
Another bonus beside delicious meat for the table and cherished time in the great outdoors as the weather is changing and feeling more like hunting season, are the overall scouting benefits of small-game hunting.
Nothing will teach us more about our favorite deergrounds than spending time there stalking and paying attention to new and fresh spoor. To be an effective small-game hunter demands the same level of attentiveness and stealth as any big-game hunt.
Where legal, getting a crack at coons, possums, groundhogs, squirrels, fox, coyote, rabbits and assorted other little critters is incredible fun hunting (where not legal fight to make it legal!).
I’m out everyday this time of year looking, exploring, searching, hunting, shooting, taking notes and making plans.
Don’t wait for October. Get out there now and get back into the great Spirit of the Wild ahead of schedule! The best time to hunt is every time you can make time. Make time often!
With more than 40 million albums sold, rock legend Ted Nugent is equally well known as the nation’s most outspoken proponent of our 1st and 2nd Amendment rights, conducting thousands of pro-gun, pro-freedom, pro-American interviews in major media worldwide. Nugent is a New York Times best-selling author whose works include Ted, White & Blue —The Nugent Manifesto; God, Guns & Rock ‘n’ Roll and Kill It & Grill It.This year, his award-winning Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild TV show celebrates its 500th episode! For all things Nuge, visit www.tednugent.com