A squirrel and his kingdom

Published 12:27 pm Saturday, February 17, 2018

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 10th through the 12th on the Blackwater above Joyner’s Bridge. The water was normal — finally — clean, running and 40 degrees. It was very good to finally have plenty of water in the river again. Air temps ranged from 24 to 52 degrees.

Picked up very little trash on this trip, but I did not venture downriver to the big log jams on this trip where the trash piles up. It’s quite dangerous down that way and I just didn’t feel like taking that risk this time. It’ll eventually get to a safer piece of river anyway one day and I will pick it up then.

The squirrel is atop his “condo” in Stumpy’s Hole, a gut along the Blackwater River.

The fishing on this trip was not good. I was hoping to find the raccoon perch or the blackfish, but caught nary a one of either. I did catch a couple small cats, a bass and three jack so I was not skunked anyway … at least in fishing.

Speaking of skunked, I did get skunked the first night at base camp. Moonpie and I were sitting there beside the fire freezing when Moonpie said “Dude, did you like just mess up your pants?” I smelled it also and told her that was skunk smell, not poo smell.

We went to hoopin’ and hollerin’ and a makin’ all kinds of noise, but that smell would not go away. I figured the polecat musta sprayed somewhere right round the camp. The terribly foul smell persisted, and at times got stronger. I started worrying that we might have a rabid skunk cruising us so I decided to discharge my side arm and see if that would have any effect. Within five minutes of me doing that, the smell was gone. So evidently it was the critter itself we were smelling. Regardless, I was glad both smell and critter went away. So I guess we can put SKUNK on the Moonpie critter list, even though we did not see it … which I am glad of.

And really as far as other critters go, we really didn’t see too much on this trip. We did see a lot of geese flying; I thought that was odd for this time of year. Also we saw a squirrel that looked like it was chilling out on top of his condominium. In Stumpy’s Hole, a gut that has a lot of flooded standing timber in it, there is this dead cypress tree this squirrel has evidently turned into his mansion. There are like four entranceways into the tree. I first noticed all the cypress bark missing/stripped from several nearby living cypress trees in the cove. I started looking around for a den tree and found this one. It was only after studying the tree several minutes that I noticed the squirrel perched on top of his domain.

He looked quite content up there and didn’t seem to mind me boating all around him taking pictures. So I just lingered around taking a picture now and then as he kept an eye on us. It was nice in that gut that day, the wind was blocked and it was kinda like a bowl catching the sun. I was enjoying the relative warmth of the waning day, and I think he was just enjoying a nice sunny afternoon overlooking his kingdom on one of the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

To contact Jeff Turner about river issues, email him at blknotkpr@earthlink.net.