Tips for Hunting Squirrels

Lance Sterling offers beginner's tips for hunting squirrels, including signs of squirrel habitats, squirrel feeding grounds, and the best time of day to hunt squirrels.


| July/August 1986



100-092-01

Scraps of shell, etc., found beneath feeding stations can often be seen during summer hikes, and are good evidence of an active squirrel population.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Reprinted with permission from MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 95. 

There are a good many reasons why squirrels are among the most hunted animals in North America. For one thing, the bushytail season usually opens before those for larger animals do, and provides an excuse to enjoy the early-autumn woods. Then too, squirrels are more numerous than any other huntable animal except possibly rabbits. Because of this, productive woods are often accessible to youngsters who have to be able to reach their hunting areas by foot. The weapons used for hunting squirrels — and the skills required — also demand less of an investment on the part of beginners, be they young or old. And, finally, squirrel meat has been recognized as a delicious food since long before the first Europeans settled on our shores.

Tips for Hunting Squirrels

The best way to locate a good squirrel woods is simply to be in the country — hiking, camping, or fishing — before the season begins. Listen for the barks and chatters of those often vocal animals, and keep your eyes peeled for nests and for the gnawed nut shells, pinecones, corncobs, or fungi that indicate squirrels have been feeding.

Once you've located a spot for hunting squirrels and the season opens (in some parts of the country, squirrels are fair game year-round), your hunt can be as simple or as complicated as you'd like. The back-to-basics approach is simply to dress in comfortable clothes (with a blaze orange vest, in orange camouflage pattern if you prefer, for safety) and set yourself down in a likely-looking grove of trees. The early- to mid-morning and mid- to late-afternoon hours are often the most productive. (Be sure to get permission to hunt if the woods are on private land.)

Most squirrel hunters use either a .22 rifle or a shotgun. If you choose the latter, which will make it possible to shoot running animals, I'd recommend nothing smaller than No. 6 shot. Despite their size, squirrels are hard to kill; for that reason, hunters using a .22 should never shoot at a moving animal, and should always use hard-hitting hollow-point bullets. To do otherwise is to risk watching a wounded animal escape. In any hunting you owe it to your quarry not to shoot unless you're confident of a quick, clean kill.

A variation of the sit-and-wait technique is still-hunting, which involves moving slowly and quietly through the woods, stopping in likely spots for up to half an hour at a time, and keeping your eyes and ears peeled.





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