At one time, squirrel season was among the most popular of hunting times, both for the sport as well as the dinner pot.
Nowadays, while hunting for bushy tails may not be as popular as it once was, it can still bring about a benefit for the intrepid hunter.
Those who hunt squirrels know that most of the animal is used in recipes and that the tail is usually a part that is tossed aside as waste.
Mepps, a national fishing lure manufacturer company that bills itself as the maker of the world's No. 1-selling lure -- the French spinner -- is offering hunters a chance to recycle their squirrel tails and maybe get something out of it as well.
The company, which has been buying the tails of fox, black, gray and red squirrels for more than 30 years, will pay hunters 26 cents for each tail sent in. The company uses about 300,000 squirrel tails annually in the manufacture of its popular spinner and other lures.
Other species: Mepps has tested many materials to make its lures but has found that only squirrel tails work. In fact, over the years, the company has tested the hair of a number of different species as well as artificial materials.
According to the Mepps Fishing Guide, "To begin with, a squirrel tail is hair. A buck tail is also hair, though it is much coarser hair. This is why a buck tail works great when tied to a larger hook, but has very little to no action when tied to a smaller spinner."
The guide further explains that most other animal tails are made of fur, not hair, and that fur is usually hollow and won't withstand the rigors that lures undergo from fish strikes and related activity.
The company stresses that only recycled tails are wanted and that they do not advocate harvesting tails strictly to send in for lures.
Ohio's squirrel season runs statewide now through January 31, 2002, except during the week of deer gun hunting season. In Pennsylvania, squirrel season is Oct. 13-Nov. 24; with a late season Dec. 10-24, and Dec. 26-Feb. 9, 2002
For more information on the tails offer, to request a copy of the Mepps Fishing Guide, or if you have tails you'd like to send to Mepps, package them up as recommended and send them to Mepps, 626 Center St., Antigo, Wis., 54409-2496. You can also get information on Mepps and the tails program at www.mepps.com or call (800) 713-3474.