Whether you are looking for a new challenge or trying to start somewhere, squirrel hunting might be just what you are looking for.
Hunting squirrel isn’t going to get you much more than a small pelt and a snack-sized piece of meat, but you will remember that hunt for the rest of your life. If you think that you have the patience, I strongly recommend that you give it a shot!
To get you on the right track, we wrote up this short article to give you everything you need to know before you hit the woods and start hunting. If you have any follow up questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
City squirrels are not forest squirrels
The squirrels that walk up and steal your lunch at the park are not the same as the squirrels that you are going to be hunting in the woods. If you remember anything from this article, make sure that this is it!
City squirrels are used to human interaction and they barely even notice that you are there. They have no problem walking up to say hello. They don’t view humans as predators, which is key to how they act.
The squirrels that you find while hunting in the woods are a whole different animal (not literally). They see us and run for their lives, hiding as high in the trees as they can get. These are what you are after when you are squirrel hunting. It’s not going to be the “walk in the park” that you are imagining.
Basic squirrel hunting strategy
Squirrels spend their days harvesting food from dusk until dawn. There is no need to rush into the woods and cause a commotion. Take your time and be aware of what is going on around you the whole time.
Hunting for squirrels takes patience and stealth. Just like when you are hunting deer, you should walk through the woods quietly and listen to the sounds around you. Listen out for the squirrels jumping through the trees, barking at others to announce their presence, gnawing on shells, and generally moving through the canopy.
Squirrels spend most of their lives looking for and eating food. They have the daunting task of collecting enough fruits and nuts to store away for winter. They will be focused on the task at hand while gathering food, but they will stop what they are doing and hide if they sense danger. It is important to find them before they find you.
If you believe that you are closing in on a squirrel and the forest suddenly goes silent, you have probably been spotted. Your best bet is to slowly take a seat and wait for the action to resume. It might take 20 minutes for them to resume gathering but there is no way you are going to find them otherwise.
Squirrel hunting is often referred to as “a pain in the neck”. If you are a good stalker, you can get yourself to the point where you are directly under your target before you even see it. You will be keeping your eyes in the canopy for most of the hunt, so keep that in mind.
When you finally do find a squirrel, wait for them to find some food and let their guard down. They move too erratically when walking around to get in a good shot. You’re better off waiting the few extra minutes than hoping that they don’t quickly zig or zag as you are taking your shot.
The effect of the season
At the beginning of the season, you will find that the squirrels congregate in the largest and most abundant trees. You might find a single tree with three to six squirrels ripe for the taking. After you fire your first shot, be patient and wait for the other squirrels to resume eating before retrieving your catch. You might be able to bag a few of them in one sitting!
Once you hit the middle of the squirrel hunting season, they are going to start foraging in the leaves and nuts that have now started falling on the ground. You should now focus entirely under those trees that produce an abundance of nuts. These include large oak trees, large hickory trees, and large pines. You won’t be able to get as close to them when they are on the ground, so make sure that you stay alert.
As you get deeper into the season, you will find that they become less active in the middle of the day. Just like deer, you will see the most action during dawn and dusk hours. If you have the time to spare, use your time in the middle of the day to scope out new locations so that you can hang out and wait for them to show up. Look for nut shells that have been gnawed open and areas with fresh shavings where the squirrels have been eating.
By the end of the season, squirrels can typically be categorized as “lazy”. They are going to stay tucked away in their dens for most of the day. It makes squirrel hunting very difficult if they only come out a few times a day and only for a few minutes each time.
The best way to take advantage of the late-season is to scope out a squirrel den and stake it out. Finding a den tree can also be the fastest way to bag your hunting limit quickly.
Weapon of choice
We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t tell you that you should be hunting with a crossbow! That being said, we wouldn’t blame you if you took a small caliber rifle out for this hunt. We would even recommend taking a young family member with you to use a BB gun if you think they have enough patience.
We want to hear from you!
Do you have any other tips or tricks you have gathered from your squirrel hunting experience? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below! We love to hear from our readers!