Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
I was reading a social media post from a friend of mine that lives in Michigan this weekend about a buffalo squirrel making all kinds of noises. I had never heard of a buffalo squirrel, so I had to browse the comments on his post to get greater details. Apparently, what they call a buffalo squirrel is about twice as big as the common gray squirrel. I began picturing in my mind our fox squirrels.
I proceeded to check with our modern-day Encyclopedia Britannica, otherwise known as Google, to see what a buffalo squirrel looked like. It wasn’t what I thought.
You see, a buffalo squirrel has a reddish color to it. Not a flame red, more like a glistening auburn perhaps. Amazingly, they are also hairless. And I didn’t see much of a tail either.
Google actually provided images of buffalo squirrel that are basically squirrels that are cooked and dipped like buffalo wings. After going thru the first couple of screens I deduced that a buffalo squirrel must, in fact, be a fox squirrel and not its own separate species.
I asked on his post why they called them buffalo squirrels. The response was also what I expected. They make so much noise on limbs, branches, grass and leaves that they sound like a herd of buffalo coming through the woods.
It is kind of counterintuitive. I agree, squirrels may be some of the loudest creatures in the forest. Well, other than coyotes howling and bobcats crying. By the way, if you ever want to test your heart, be 20 feet up a tree at four in the morning and have a bobcat let out a shriek like a human baby calling his mother. It is hard to tell whether the goosebumps come from the sudden eeriness in the dark or the cold damp wind cutting through your insulated hunting clothes.
Back to the squirrels though — they are small frantic rodents that don’t weigh much more than a few leaves, yet they will have you believe a moose just tripped down three flights of stairs in a glass jar-lined corridor and landed on the largest bubble wrap floor you have ever experienced. While many people will exaggerate to get a point across, I think I was pretty conservative in my description of how loud the tree rats suffering from hyperactivity (that was the word we used when I was young before ADD and ADHD became more correct) really are.
Meanwhile, the larger the whitetail deer, the quieter that rascal is. Show me a 12-point, 250-pound monster buck and I will present to you nature’s example of a four-legged ninja. I have been known to wake up from a short slumber against the bark of a pine just before sunset to find to my amazement that several deer decided the best brush to eat happened to be directly below me.
You would think with an animal’s version of tap shoes a deer’s hooves would at least crunch a leaf. Contrary to that belief, wildlife biologists have determined the material that makes up the hooves has some hyper-thermonucleatic bond to anything on the earthen floor to create a sound vacuum. Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and Neil deGrasse Tyson all gave up hunting one of North America’s most sought-after big game creatures due to that scientific discovery. Maybe.
But a dang squirrel, well, completely different story. They are two parts tail, two parts fur, one part teeth, and five parts really, really bad elementary school band. Like so bad that the recorders playing Hot Cross Buns are temporarily drowned out by blown-too-hard trumpets and approximately 23 6-year-olds playing the cymbals.
You know, because every kid likes clashing the cymbals together constantly, so they can sound like a squirrel in the woods.
Bill Howard is an avid bowhunter and outdoorsman. He teaches hunter education (IHEA) and bowhunter education (IBEP) in North Carolina. He is a member of North Carolina Bowhunters Association and Pope & Young, and is an official measurer for both.