Squirrel hunting is a popular pastime in the U.S. and other countries. Find out why people hunt for squirrels, whether you need a hunting permit, and where to find squirrels.
Know which seasons are best for squirrel hunting and learn more about their behaviors to locate your prey.
Understand which squirrel hunting techniques are best, what weapons to use, and what other gear to take with you on the hunt.
If you’re successful, you can experiment with a selection of delicious squirrel recipes as another benefit of this activity.
What is the point of squirrel hunting?
Squirrel hunting is popular for many reasons. Here are the five primary reasons that hunters like hunting this small game.
1. There is never a shortage
As a result, almost everywhere you go in the U.S., you’ll have the opportunity to test your hunting skills. You only need to check your state laws to find out when you can organize your next squirrel hunt.
2. Squirrels are challenging
Squirrels are lively, deft little creatures that are constantly on the move. If your goal is to hone your hunting skills, this is an excellent place to start.
Whether you prefer stealth, still, or stand-hunting techniques, squirrels provide you with an incredibly challenging experience.
Don’t let the size of squirrels fool you into thinking that this type of hunt is boring. Despite their small size, squirrel hunting is full of excitement and action.
You can hunt this prey as a family or with dogs. Either way, you’re in for a day of learning, fun, and challenges. So why wouldn’t you want to enjoy the trip?
4. Easy cleaning experience
Squirrels are not only a challenge to hunt, but once caught and killed, they are easy to clean. If you’re in for an overnight hunting trip, then you don’t have to take much food with you as a quick clean-up makes for a fast, fulfilling mealtime.
In addition, you can quickly replenish the energy you spend hunting squirrels with a healthy meal.
5. Squirrels are tasty
You can enjoy a tasty meal of squirrel meat cooked over the fire on an overnight trip in the woods or take them home for a cordon bleu meal.
If you take your game home, you will easily find recipes online to serve a meal fit for hunters. Of course, how you choose to eat squirrels depends on you, but they make a delicious, healthy meal–which is one more reason to hunt squirrels.
Is it legal to hunt for squirrels?
State laws differ across the U.S., so you need to do your homework to find out when and whether you can hunt squirrels in yours. You will also find that some States distinguish between red and gray squirrels.
Some states like California don’t view red squirrels as game, so they have no protection under the law. You can kill as many red squirrels as you wish in this state.
However, the gray squirrel is indigenous, and California legally recognizes this animal as wild game. Any State that recognizes squirrels as game means that you will need a hunting license to kill these animals or a permit to trap them.
Always check your State laws to determine whether you need a license or permit before preparing to hunt squirrels. You can find more information here about what game you can hunt in each state and whether you can legally hunt squirrels in yours.
Best season for squirrel hunting
Squirrels are relatively easier to hunt during fall as this is when they come out of their dens to stockpile food for winter. However, during this time, the squirrels are vulnerable as they are easy to spot.
Spring is another good time for hunting as the squirrels are hungry after the winter months and intend to find food. Winter months are no good for spotting this prey as they will hide in their dens to stay warm.
Besides seasonal hunting periods, hunters should take note of other best times for stalking this game. These factors include:
- The full moon
- Time of day
- Barometric pressure
Squirrels tend to stay in their dens when a full moon is out, as the bright light makes them vulnerable to other predators. However, these animals are also more active when temperatures are moderate, so they forage when the weather is warm and sunny.
Choose the early mornings or dusk as the best times to spot squirrels. However, squirrels will also avoid hunting when the weather is inclement, such as on rainy and windy days.
Barometric pressure is another element that influences squirrel behavior and hunting. Therefore, always check the weather forecast before going on a squirrel hunt to check that conditions are in your favor.
Where can you find squirrels?
Squirrels build their homes in different places depending on the type of squirrel and what living spaces are available. For example, tree and flying squirrels build their homes in treetops, living in nests they make from materials they gather from the environment.
If the surrounding trees are not suitable for nesting, squirrels will find holes in tree trunks to make their homes. Tree squirrels include red, Eastern and Western gray, Eastern fox, and Douglas species.
Ground squirrels will make their homes in burrows in their earth. Other squirrels in urban areas will look for shelter in spaces outside the home.
Some squirrels can even become cheeky enough to make their dens inside residential homes. Chimneys and attics are favorite spots for indoor homes in urban areas, but this situation typically only lasts until the homeowners realize they have an intruder.
Squirrels are attracted to living in densely wooded areas and often make their homes in large oak, ash, and hickory trees. These animals will also live in or around trees that grow close to water sources as the pickings are riper.
Hunters can research to find out what squirrel species live in their region. Once they have that information, hunters will know whether to look into the trees or at ground level to locate their prey.
Even tree squirrels come down from tree heights to gather food, so this is the best place to find squirrels, no matter the type.
How to hunt them?
When you plan a squirrel hunt, you should think about the squirrel species you’ll be hunting. Also, think about the region you intend to hunt as different environments call for other hunting techniques.
How you will hunt squirrels is another thing about which you should be clear?
Choose your weapon and techniques carefully to prepare for a successful hunt. Also, consider the area and weather to ensure that you dress appropriately for the occasion. You also need certain other gear to make your hunt fun.
The most significant defining factor for a successful squirrel hunt is patience. These rodents are small, but they are also alert and swift.
Therefore, always wait for a squirrel to come to a standstill before taking your shot. Waiting silently may be difficult, but it is your best chance to bag your prey.
You can also use a herding technique to encourage squirrels to relinquish their cover. When you hear squirrels in the foliage, throw a big stone in their direction to scare them into the open. Once in the open, you have a clear shot.
Listen for the typical sounds that squirrels use, such as scratching in foliage and chattering to identify their positions. Attune your eyes and ears to your surroundings while hunting.
Remain quiet and still. Another good tip is always to keep the sun behind you so that squirrels find it difficult to see you. Again, the objective is for you to spot them and not the other way around, and you can see better without the sun’s glare in your eyes.
If you have the patience, you can train your dog to hunt squirrels. These dogs will pick up the squirrel’s scent and quickly trap them in a tree for an easy shot.
Choose your weapon wisely for squirrel hunting. A shotgun gives you a broad range of fire and an excellent chance of hitting the game as the buckshot spreads.
Use a short-barrel shotgun and .410-gauge shells. Anything bigger will destroy the prey as it will be inedible unless you want to spend hours removing the pellets.
Hunters also use a .22 rifle for hunting small prey. This weapon delivers greater accuracy and doesn’t destroy the squirrel.
You can also use a bow to go squirrel hunting. Choose a small game broadhead for the job, as anything bigger will also destroy the squirrel meat.
Wear camo clothing where this is allowed to improve your invisibility. Some squirrel hunting regions require you to wear orange vests, so be aware of this requirement.
Other gear to take on a squirrel hunt includes:
- A hat for sun protection
- The all-important bag in which to store your squirrels
- An excellent skinning knife
- String if you want to tie the squirrels to your backpack
- Bug Spray
- First aid kit
- Wipes to clean lenses
- Waterproof poncho
- Cell phone
Squirrel hunting is a fun pursuit that has loads of benefits. You can keep the squirrel population in balance and get a good meal simultaneously.
Once you have your hunting permit and know where to find squirrels, make sure you have the right weapon and hunting gear for a good hunting experience.
Exercise patience in your squirrel hunting techniques, and you will enjoy the hunt.