Autumn In Kentucky

view from the top of a Kentucky mountain

It’s that time of year I like best. Nothing beats Fall for most outdoor activities that I like best. The weather starts to get cooler. The humidity goes away, the trees change and most small game seasons start. The small game I like to hunt best are the native tree rats known as squirrels.

I love hunting with a .22 rimfire rifle but its not always safe this time of year. In the mountains in early fall, the sqwacks stay high up in trees. Firing a 22 at a squirrel at a high angle when homes are on both sides of mountains in hollows all around isn’t safe. Later when all the leaves are gone or nearly gone and the game mainly runs closer to the ground I switch to the rifle. But for early fall I stick to the shotgun.

Model 31 Remington 16 gauge

The shotgun I use is the Model 31 Remington. When I was younger, I used the 12 gauge. Usually with 2-3/4 shells, then later 3inch and 3 and 1/2 magnums. A common thing for youth. As I got older and met Brady ( who you have read stories about ) he convinced me of the beauty of the 16. You get nearly everything you get from a 12 but with none of the down sides. After using it so long, I wonder why the hell did I ever waste my time of a 12gauge. I stick to the ” hi-brass” federal #6 shot for all my small game needs.

The Model 31 was Remington’s first side ejecting shotgun and the model before the now ubiquitous Model 870. It is one of the smoothest action pump shotguns you will ever handle The action is as slick as Satan’s lawyer. Later the action was simplified (cheapened) and used as the basis for the Mossberg 500 and Ithaca model 37 actions.

The first one I handled was one owned by Brady. After using it a bit It didn’t take much effort to convince me of how great these old, nearly forgotten shotguns are. I had to have one, and a while later Brady was able to find me one after a relative of his passed away and Brady was helping his wife liquidate his mindbogglingly huge shotgun collection.

I love the Model 31, the local gray squirrels do not

I don’t know how many squirrels I have killed with the 31 but it’s been a bunch. You can see by the wear on the gun how much it has been used. I redo the wood ever few years but I have never had the metal re-blued. No point since I would just wear it off and I have no intention of ever selling it. They just don’t make them like this anymore.

More time in the woods means carrying a knife a bit bigger than my case pocket knife. I got this knife last year but I wasn’t able to use it much due to my medical troubles keeping me out of the hills most of last fall. The knife is made by Marc Godwin of Black Wolf Knives. He custom made it completely by hand. You can see the logo on one side with my name engraved on the other. I have never owned a better and sharper knife. Marc is n Aussie that lives in Japan where he makes these knives. Each one made per order with your choice of handle style and colors. His knife making business has really taken off and he now offers a variety of different types for different jobs. If you are thinking of a bespoke knife, check him out. Telling him looserounds sent

One of the joys of fall in the mountains is the wild fruit you can eat. My favorite being the “pawpaw” fruit. It’s taste is hard to describe. To me it tastes like a banana, a pear and apple all combined. Inside is like a custard and you can cut it in half and eat it with a spoon. They are delicious. Problem is they do not keep long. If you pick a bunch you better eat them fast. Putting them in the fridge will help for a couple days and freezing them works best but they are a treat to be enjoyed quick. Right now is when they ripen and animals love them as much as people do so you have to get to them before they do.

trusting for now,two days before season= as hard to find as your car keys

While hunting small game this time of year is also when you will have one of these walk up on you. It is so strange. She will walk right up and let me video her on my phone. Stare at me and munch those leaves without care. About 2 days before bow season opens in September, its like they don’t even exist anywhere in the world. They know some how. Either by more activity from bow hunters scouting and putting up their tree stands or some sixth sense, they know. I don’t bow hunt myself but I do squirrel hunt while bow season is on going and I notice their complete seeming vanishing every time.

It’s a great time of year. I don’t know if I could stand living in a place with no real Autumn season.


  1. Great post. Can’t wait for squirrel season to start so I can get my ancient 870 16 ga into the woods. Grew up eating pawpaws from my great grandmother’s tree…need to find a local source after moving away.

  2. +1 about autumn.

    used to go after them greys with a primitive chinese .22 air rifle, 12 ft-lbs. mostly for feeding the ferrets so better not shotgunning and quiet near settlements. even better with a .177 or full power .22 but i’m cheap, teheh.

    during high summer on one apiary a roe deer comes out during early morning hours to watch me working the bees from a dozen or so yards away, even calls her kid over. so we whistle and pipe back and forth until they get bored and walk away.
    usually they are so shy around here they would take flight from hundreds of yards away, even before most people would notice them.
    maybe she’s gone mad with tick fever.

  3. I’m a mountain man too Shawn, so I know exactly what you’re writing about.

    I hunt rabbits and foxes and boar and deer in the hills. I have to live among hills. A walk in the bush without a hill to climb just doesn’t feel right. I’ve spent a lot of time working in the Texas Panhandle and man…those plains may feel great for some, but they creep me right out. I need hills and woods to keep me happy.

    As for big cities and their teeming hordes of scurrying crushed grey souls…well to hell with that.

    Enjoy your hunting and please keep writing your stories because I sure do enjoy them.

    I hope to come over to the States and maybe walk your woods and buy you a beer one day.

    Cheers from Oz

  4. Almost forgot about pawpaws! They have them around here (prairie bananas) but wooded areas are the exception in these parts. Back home they’re everywhere. Half the fam was from eastern Kentucky, haven’t been down there in almost twenty years but do miss it quite a bit. A lot of memories made as a kid climbing around the hills at my grandparents’ place. Used to love the limestone escarpment up behind the house and being a “mountain climber!” If I saw it now it’s probably not more than a little boulder.


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