“The Nervous Squirrel” by Doug Fincher

November 9, 2023 - When I was growing up in the 40’s, it was hard to find a squirrel in my home town of Center, Texas. Any time we saw a squirrel we’d grab our gun and try to kill them. The reason for such few squirrels back then was the fact that so many people hunted them (even some women)… and ate them.

When I was twelve years old, two of my brothers and I went “exploring” one day. “Exploring” meant not going to hunt or fish, but just to “explore.” Mother would always say, “You boys be careful,” and many times we’d be gone all day. On this day, we wound up about a mile from home at Mr. Carrol’s Pond. Suddenly Joe hollered,” Look!” “There’s a squirrel in that hiccker-nut tree!” A huge fox squirrel was resting belly down on a limb near the top of the tree. Since we didn’t have a gun, but wanted squirrel for supper, I told Joe and John that I’d climb the tree “and try to catch him.” I told them to grab the squirrel should he decide to jump down. 

The squirrel didn’t move a hair until I got about three feet from him. I got so close that I could see his nervous, twitching eyes. As I reached for him, he suddenly jumped and sailed ---flying squirrel style---- and hit the ground running from my brothers. We vainly searched for thirty minutes, but never found the terrified squirrel. Looking back on it now, I realize that I was very fortunate that I didn’t catch him.

San Augustine, Texas is a squirrel paradise. They’re at the courthouse, running down the power lines and nesting in houses. If times get hard again as it was in the 40s, we might be squirrel hunting… not for sport… but for food. A gasping young lady told me last week, “Wow, you mean y’all actually ate squirrels?” “Sure did,” I chuckled. “And you could be bragging how good fried cat squirrel and gravy tastes… one of these days.” I just pray that hungry people… and nervous squirrels… don’t happen again, but with these uncertain days…

…we never know.