All You Need to Know About Squirrel Hunting
The future of hunting clearly relies on getting the young involved. As casual as it may sound, though, impressing the “hip” youngsters with a few outdoor expeditions can provide a challenge in this technology-oriented era. Well, squirrel hunting is a great start. You not only get the chance to give them a taste of the interesting hunting action, but more importantly provide a stepping stone to more challenging hunts in future.
Contrary to what you may be thinking as a novice, squirrels are not an easy catch as little as they may seem. While they are indeed a virtually small target, all bushy tails move extremely fast and will freeze without moving if they sense danger, making them quite hard to spot in the woodlands. In a nutshell, expect your first experience to be a great, yet, challenging when it’s all said and done. Besides being an ideal start for new hunters seeking to hit the rough often, squirrel hunting provides a chance to enjoy a tasty meal with family at the end of the day. Let’s dive right in and have a look at essential squirrel hunting tips, shall we?
Must-Have Gears for Hunting Squirrel:
One of the main reasons why people learn how to hunt squirrel is because there is little gear and materials involved. In a nutshell, squirrel hunting is one of the best means of practicing the stalking and spotting game in pocket-friendly fashion. Here’s what you need.
A squirrel hunting field bag should rank tops on your list of priorities as it holds everything you technically need for a successful hunt. You want a spacious bag that will not only be able to neatly hold your gear, but also the squirrels you shoot down. In short, you want something big, yet not bulky. The features to watch out for in a squirrel hunting field bag include comfort, durability and pocket arrangement. Just so you know, everything else listed below goes into the bag – yes, it’s technically all you need.
It is worth mentioning that you can either use a rifle or shotgun for squirrel hunting. The latter basically has more power even though it’s likely to ruin your meat, while the former has cleaner kills, though challenging for newbies. For the shotgun, carry a .410 box; use a No.6 shot for trees with heavy leaves or a No. 4 if the tree is long. A .22 50-round box should do if your choice of weapon is a rifle.
Heading out for your hunting expedition with a pair of compact binoculars at hand would certainly be in your best interest. As earlier mentioned, squirrels can freeze motionless for extended periods if they sense danger and this makes it really hard to spot the bushy tails in, well, bushes. Having a pair can help distinguish between a bump and squirrel. Not to mention the bird-watching benefits in-between breathers.
You can read our Best Hunting Binoculars Reviews to choose the right one for squirrel hunting.
Generally, squirrels are very cautious creatures in that they tend to freeze motionless waiting for danger to pass, if they hear unfamiliar noises. Your safest bet, therefore, lies in mimicking squirrel noises that convince the others it is okay to hang around. The calls designed to produce an array of squirrel-enticing sounds can be of great use when going about your hunting business.
Here is a video tutorial about using a Squirrel Call:
How to Use a Squirrel Call
Water and First Aid Kit
It goes without saying that hydration is of paramount importance when outdoors. The successful are always the most prepared and in the jungle, there is no such thing as over-preparation – the whole beauty of it. That said, always carry a 12-ounce bottle or two, alongside a well-packed first aid kit consisting of eye drops, bandages, swabs, safety pins and tweezers just to name a few.
You need insurance against bloodstains after making the kill. Carrying three or four plastic bags to hold your game before throwing them in your bag is therefore a viable option. If you find yourself with extra bags, remember to throw in some fall mushrooms, walnuts, blackberries or anything you’d like to take home as icing.
Steps on How to Hunt Squirrel
As earlier mentioned, the prepared always end up successful and with this etched in mind, you want to begin your squirrel hunting odyssey by researching all you can about the bushy tails. In some states for instance, you are allowed to hunt grey squirrels but not the rare fox squirrels. Only until then can you proceed to follow these steps.
1. Identify the Perfect Place and Time to Hunt
Fortunately, squirrels are most active during the day, meaning it shouldn’t be a hassle spotting a bushy tail in the morning and afternoon hours; more so around summer to early falls. Remember, squirrels love munching on beechnuts, hickory nuts and acorns. Therefore, keep an eye out for hickory, beech and oak trees for activity.
2. Look Around for Giveaways
When hunting for squirrels, your safest bet of finding the perfect spot to set up shop lays in looking and listening for obvious giveaways such as cutting. Generally speaking, bushy tails tend to cut the husk off the nuts they feeds on, meaning you’ll either hear noises of the little creatures munching on the nuts or better yet, see the husks falling through the leaves before hitting the ground.
3. Mimic Squirrel Sounds
Once you’ve identified the perfect spot, it is of paramount importance to try and stay as invincible as you can, prior to mimicking squirrel noises for obvious reasons. As earlier mentioned, bushy tails tend to freeze in position if they sense any danger, making them extremely hard to spot in trees. The only way you can convince these clever creatures to resume their nut-eating is by simply mimicking noises of other squirrels eating. Like any other form of hunting, you always have the option of using electronic calls to lure you game. However, fret not if you are on a budget as a first-timer. Try rubbing two quarters together – one using the ribbed edge and the other flat – to replicate the grinding sounds of husk cutting.
4. Practice Patience
Generally, there are two main hunting techniques used in squirrel hunting; the waiting or stalking game. The former requires great patience while the latter, well, a lot of zeal as you may have gathered. However, you can almost always be guaranteed of a productive hunting expedition by setting up shop in the perfect spot, prior to waiting for your game to come around. The bottom line is, patience is certainly the name of the game when it comes to squirrel hunting. Take your time waiting for the bushy tails to get comfortable before selecting your shot as a novice.
5. Select Your Shot Wisely
Unlike hunting on the ground, shooting at squirrels on trees translates to firing upwards. With this in mind, safety should clearly rank tops on your list of priorities. Basically, you want to ensure that the bullet hits the tree in case you miss and while at it, always ensure to keep the sun against your back. Safety aside, head shots serve as your safest bet as is the case with all hunting expeditions. Aiming for the head not only preserves a good chuck of your meat, but also ensures you kill the game in one shot while preserving your bullets for other hunts in the process. Squirrels can be quite tricky and hitting other parts other than the head provides a chance for the injured prey to jump into a hole or go further up the tree – a lost cause in short.
6. Clean Your Hunt
Once you’ve shot down a squirrel or squirrels for the lucky ones, the next step should be skinning and gutting in the prey to preserve the meat. This step always provides perfect bonding time more so for fathers mentoring their kids into hunting.
As you may have gathered by now, learning how to hunt squirrel can be a tricky affair contrary to common perception. Here are some essential squirrel hunting tips you want to try out before heading outdoors.
- Spotting bushy tails on trees can be really challenging. They are extremely fast and tend to freeze as a camouflage tactic in case of danger. You therefore, want to train your eye to identify motion rather than the creature itself. For instance, start by trying to scan for moving tree branches instead of searching for a bushy tail in leafy canopies.
- Another effective way of pinpointing squirrels is by simply looking out for their body shape especially when you are certain that your cover is blown. In this case, the bushy tail will hold in a motionless position meaning you’ll have to keep an eye for unnatural looking parts sitting on trunks or branches. The bottom line here is, these creatures have mastered the art of camouflage. You are better off looking for unnatural shapes than colors.
- Hunting down squirrels is easier if you are experienced in vocalization. Some squirrel chatters are high-pitched than others and it can get a little confusing especially for beginners. However, worth noting is identifying squirrel calls is usually not a good sign as it in most cases, means your cover has been blown.
- If you’ve spooked a bushy tail within sight, you are better off freezing still on the ground as you patiently keep an eye out for motion. Generally, they’ll make a move after a while and decide the coast clear – that’s your cue for going for the kill.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. What is the recommended squirrel hunting clothing?
A. As mentioned earlier, the whole beauty of squirrel hunting is the inexpensive gear required. In fact, you can do without camouflage even though it comes in handy to some extent. Go for a hunter orange vest or jacket, a pair of hiking pants and comfortable hiking boots for those intending to play the stalking game.
Q. Which is the best squirrel hunting gun?
A. The perfect gun usually depends on a number of factors such as your expertise level. Similar to other hunting applications, a .22 caliber rifle or shotgun should do just fine. With the rifle, you can expect neat kills, longer shots and inexpensive ammo. Conversely, shotguns provide easier kills and quicker shots.
Q. What else can I bring along to make my squirrel hunting expedition easier?
A. Well, you can get your dog to tag along for starters. Generally speaking, dogs are great at locating prey and bushy tails are certainly no exception. However, be sure to carefully check your local hunting regulations before using a dog to hunt.
Wrapping It Up
As you may have gathered by now, squirrel hunting is certainly not for the faint-hearted or for quitters. It is extremely exciting especially if you are just getting started on hitting the rough. When learning how to hunt squirrel, it is paramount to always watch your step as this may easily blow your cover. Sure, it is almost impossible to remain silent in the woods with all the pine cones, twigs and sticks in your way. However, you can also avoid things that go “crack” when you step on them.
Also, never walk directly at a motionless squirrel as chances are, you’ve blown your cover. Rather, angle away from the bushy tail slowly to convince it that it’s not in any danger. This goes for any game animal you come across. Generally, squirrels are most active during the day, meaning you can hunt down the cunning creature with a loved one, without having to worry about any danger.
Always begin your hunting by scouting for the perfect area where large numbers of bushy tails are likely to be found. This means setting up close to their preferred eating “joints” such as around hickory nuts, acorns and beech trees. Practice walking slowly in two or three steps at a time with the sun against your back for obvious safety reason. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you followed the squirrel hunting tips above. Good Luck!