Slingshot Squirrels

I’m generally not much on nostalgia but something came to my attention recently that returned me to a happy childhood memory; though only temporarily.

As a kid I hunted squirrels, mainly because they were what was available. And they were as close as the backyard and the neighbor’s wood lot. Shooting wasn’t allowed in town, of course, but long before I owned or had access to my first.22 caliber Remington my weapon of choice for squirrels was a slingshot.

It was a rough-hewn, handmade tool. The stock was a whittled fork from a tree branch. Strips of worn out bicycle tire tubes served as the rubbers and a shoe tongue or scrap of leather from the local cobbler’s shop made the pocket. Bullets were rocks gathered from the roadside.

I was not a great shot and don’t remember bagging many squirrels but I did bring home a few. But mainly I had a huge time pretending I was stalking big game.

Am I the only one who participated in this childhood nonsense? Surely not.

As a slingshot welding youngster I never checked the game regulations but apparently should have. I recently discovered (while preparing a newspaper story on the upcoming spring squirrel season) that in my current state of residence (Kentucky) it is illegal to use a slingshot to hunt squirrels.

Illegal? The regulations actually use the term “prohibited.” But it’s under the what’s illegal section of the current regulations. Look it up yourself at

I was stunned by this regulation. Archery is legal gear for squirrels. So are rimfire rifles and shotguns, of course. A muzzleloader and air rifle will also keep squirrel hunters legal. But get caught in the woods with a slingshot and you’re apparently felon fodder.

I have a hard time visualizing a wildlife enforcement officer – all good men and women doing an oft dangerous job with grace and courage – citing a kid with a slingshot. I would guess that most of the COs I know would probably have a hard time visualizing it, too. I hope they would.