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The Only Squirrel Hunting Resource You'll Ever Need

Updated on February 12, 2015

Welcome to the Nut House

Just about every hunter has started out squirrel hunting as a child. As we grew older, we started perusing bigger more challenging game. In a day where itâs all about hunting deer and turkey, small game hunting has taken a backseat. Itâs slowly becoming a thing of the past in some places. What people donât think about is that squirrel hunting set the foundation of our hunting careers. Itâs not just for kids. It can be a challenge for even the most seasoned hunter.

This past squirrel season brought a lot of things to my attention. Despite my many years of experience hunting other game, I found myself in situations that Iâve never experienced before. I quickly found myself searching for other tactics, and the more I hunted the harder it became.

I tried to learn more about squirrels and squirrel hunting. I found many websites relating to it, but many were broken links or they just repeated the information that I already knew. Iâve realized there arenât many pages for the serious squirrel hunter. So Iâve decided to create this lens, one page with almost everything you might need. I talk about gear, safety, strategies, recipes, and many more things related to squirrel hunting. I even have links to other great resources that you can check out. If you have any tips, comments, recipes, or maybe you just think Iâve left something out write it in the comments section. I want this lens to be written by squirrel hunters for squirrel hunters.

Welcome to the world of the bushy tails, the nut house!

Photo courtesy ofJames Barker of freedigitalphotos.net

Let Everyone Know What You Enjoy to Hunt

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Learn to properly field dress your squirrels

Some Squirrel hunting gear tips

All You Need for Squirrel Hunting

Squirrel hunting is all about simplicity when it comes to gear. Almost everything that you'll need can fit in your pockets or a small bag. I have composed a list of the bare essentials that I carry into the woods on every hunt I go on. They are listed here in order of importance. Just click on the blue words below for more specific information about equipment selection.

  1. A hunting license is the most important thing you need to have. Possible jail time and/or fines are not worth one squirrel. Just keep it legal so you can keep having fun. Here's a link to your local DNR for licensing and hunting information.
  2. Unless you plan on bagging squirrels with your bare hands, you're going to need a weapon of your choice. The great thing about squirrel hunting is that they can be hunted with almost anything. Rifles, shotguns, and pistols are very common choices in the pursuit of the bushy tails. I'm personally a fan of the classic .22LR. Bow hunting squirrels are by far the most challenging way. Listen to what Ted Nugent has to say about hunting squirrel with a bow.
  3. Finding a place to hunt isn't always difficult. There are as many places to hunt as there are squirrels in the woods. They are all over North America. If you can't find private land to hunt, don't worry. There are millions of state and federal lands open to hunting. The NRA and National Shooting Sports Foundation can help you locate those places. You local DNR also will have information on state public hunting areas
  4. What you wear really doesn't matter. You don't really need to be wearing a ghillie suit for squirrel hunting, but wear colors that would naturally blend in. If your state requires you to wear blaze orange, then wear it. It's not a bad idea to wear it even if it's not required. Remember on colder days you can always take off clothing when it gets warm, but you can't put on what you never brought. It's a great idea to bring a rain jacket too. Just wear clothes that are comfortable and durable.
  5. A sharp knife is a valuable tool to have any time outdoors. You need it for field dressing your quarry or just for whittling some twigs when the squirrels keep hiding.
  6. Of course you're going to need a small backpack or waist pack for carrying your gear.
  7. Bring some snacks and drinks. Especially if you plan on being out more than a few hours. You will work up an appetite waltzing through the wilderness. Plus it's nice to have a snack and a cool soda or a hot cup of coffee.
  8. Binoculars! You will use them more than you think. There will be times during your hunt when squirrels will just tend to disappear in thin air. Chances are they spotted you and are hiding. It can be very difficult to pick out a squirrel that's lying still and flat against a branch or tree trunk. With a good set of binoculars you can easily pick him out.
  9. You'll need to bring something to carry the squirrels you've successfully harvested. I usually carry a string and tie them together and hang them from my belt or backpack. Any bag, old pillowcase, or even a bucket will suffice. One great thing to have is an upland game vest. They have plenty of pockets for your gear and have one big pouch on the back to put game into. One thing you need to keep in mind with this is weather. If it's below 50 degrees you'll most likely be fine without field dressing them for a couple hours because they will not spoil very fast. On a hot day though, it would be wise to carry a cooler with some ice so you can dress them and keep them on ice. Spoiled squirrel probably doesn't taste or smell good.
  10. Knowledge is power, but for squirrel hunting all you need to know is what they look like, what they eat, and where they live. If you know that you'll learn even more each time you go hunting. They are creatures that seem to amaze me every time I see one. Once you think you know everything about them they will surprise you.

Gear for Squirrel Hunting

Muzzy 112 - SG-X Bowhunting Small Game Grasshoppers 100 Grain Broadhead, 3 Pack
Muzzy 112 - SG-X Bowhunting Small Game Grasshoppers 100 Grain Broadhead, 3 Pack

For bow hunters looking for a challenge try these out on Squirrels

 
Hunter's Specialties Squirrel Call
Hunter's Specialties Squirrel Call

Squirrel calls do work! They can draw squirrels out of hiding.

 
Squirrel Dog Basics: A Guide to Hunting Squirrels With Dogs
Squirrel Dog Basics: A Guide to Hunting Squirrels With Dogs

If you're interest in hunting squirrels with dogs check out this book. Lots of great info

 
GameHide Upland Vest, Large
GameHide Upland Vest, Large

Great vest with a pouch in the back to carry bushy tails. Also a lot of pockets to carry calls, extra ammo and binoculars

 

Strategies for Hunting Squirrels

Here's where most squirrel hunters make their mistakes while hunting squirrels. The way you hunt must change daily. Most people hunt squirrels by just taking a walk through the woods. Yes, in most cases you can be successful with this technique, but there are a variety of ways to hunt squirrels.

The sit and wait method. This is a very effective way to get your daily limit and probably the most relaxing way. There's nothing like just sitting in the peaceful woods. All you do is find an area that squirrels have made their home and sit and wait for them to reveal themselves. They key to this method is being still and quiet. They need to think you're not there until it's too late. You can also hunt them from a tree stand like deer with this method.

Now for my favorite tactic, the still hunting method. This is where you put all your skills together to get that squirrel. You must be camouflaged very well. The object is to be completely invisible while walking through the woods. This squirrel hunting method takes practice. You must move slowly and each step must be deliberate. It takes me an hour to cover about 50 yards of flat terrain and even more time to cover steep hills and mountains. This technique is best applied in areas where hunting pressure is low, thick forests, and when the ground is wet from recent rain, fresh snow, or morning dew. Crunchy leaves and grass will let them know you are there. Foggy and conditions will help out a lot while still hunting. When you see a squirrel in a nearby tree keep moving slowly and creep up to it. Now you are using the spot and stalk method.

Gray Squirrels Taken During a Still Hunt on a Rainy Day

Gray Squirrels Taken During a Still Hunt on a Rainy Day
Gray Squirrels Taken During a Still Hunt on a Rainy Day

Squirrel Hunting Safety

Safety is very important with any type of hunting. Danger is lurking everywhere is nature. Even a trophy squirrel is not worth getting hurt over.

Be sure to check the weather forecast before you head into the woods. You don't want to be caught in a blizzard of severe thunderstorm. Even be careful on hot days not to dehydrate. Heat and cold will kill you if you're not careful. No need to risk heatstroke or hypothermia.

Take a hunter's education and firearms safety class. I can't say this enough. Most of the places I squirrel hunt are nearby homes, farms, and other hunters. A simple .22LR bullet can travel up to 1 1/2 miles under the right conditions. Be sure of what you're shooting at and what is being your target.

Keep an eye out for other wildlife. Animals will attack you if they feel threatened. Snakes, spiders, and other predatory animals are dangerous. If you see them stay away.

A little first aid knowledge can come in handy. If you get hurt and you're by yourself, having a little knowledge can save your life. So take a first aid class.

It's True

Squirrel hunting will make you a better deer hunter.

Hunting Squirrels will help you bag more Bucks

How Squirrel Hunting Will Make You a Better Deer Hunter

No matter what you hunt, every hunter knows that to become a better hunter you have to hunt more often. Deer season may be over, but that's no reason to stop hunting. Most states have long squirrel seasons. Here in Tennessee, our season lasts from the end of August to the end of February. We also have a spring season that lasts a few weeks in May and June. Plenty of time to spend in the woods before and after deer season.

Just like deer hunting you need to scout for squirrels. Find their den trees, nests, and food sources and you'll find the squirrels. Chances are that you already know where they are because they spent all deer season pestering you at your stand. I'm sure every deer hunter has been busted by a squirrel while hunting and I've even had squirrel alert deer to my presence. You can learn to read the squirrels behavior when it comes to deer hunting. They make a distinct alert sound that will send all game running.

Hunting these bushy tailed critters can sometimes take some skill. It's great for still hunting practice. Squirrels are much more forgiving that deer because they will most likely come back to an area within minutes if they feel there is no threat. The only difference in deer and squirrel hunting is the wind. You don't have to watch it as much. Squirrels rely primarily on sight and sound to detect dangers in the woods. Because squirrels are usually in trees they usually have the advantage. They can see and hear things at a farther distance than deer because of this. Practice your slow movements and see if you can sneak up on a squirrel. It's harder than you think. If you can do it consistently then you can definitely sneak up on deer as long as you use the wind to your advantage.

This past squirrel season, I found many areas rich in deer activity that I never knew deer were there. Many of those areas are going to be deer stands for this upcoming season.

Scouting for Squirrels

Scouting is a very important part of hunting any game animal. The three things you need to look for while scouting are food, water, and shelter. These are the keys animals need to survive everyday. If you find these things out you will find the squirrels. Keep in mind that as the seasons change so do the locations of food, shelter, and water.

Food sources vary from location and time of year. Early in the season squirrels eat berries, leaves, nuts, and other foliage. Sometimes they will even eat the occasional insect. In the later part of the season they will primarily eat nuts that they have buried throughout the year. The best food source you can fin is an oak tree that produces a lot of acorns. Most likely there will be some squirrels nearby.

Unless you live in very dry areas, water isn't something to worry about when hunting. Squirrels get their water intake from many sources. Puddles, creeks and even dew on leaves provide them all they need and is very abundant in the woods.

A Little Squirrel Knowledge

Click on the names of the squirrels to find out more about them!

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Western Gray Squirrel

Fox Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Black Squirrel

Squirrel Recipes

Here's some links to some great squirrel recipes. Try them all out

Share your squirrel hunting tips, links, recipes, and stories here

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    • RaisedByBears profile image

      Carl Eastvold 20 months ago from Duluth

      Great hubpage on squirrel hunting. Will be going back over it. Most of the squirrels I've shot in recent years are - those I don't want in my house and out buildings. For some reason - this area attracts them (maybe that's why it's called Hunter Lake). Most often I shoot them with a 410 shotgun - so as not to take any chances with the neighbors. If I'm actually hunting squirrels - I have a model 341 Remington. Oddly, as this rifle was only produced between 1936 and 1940 - this is the second such Model 341 I've owned. It is an excellent squirrel rifle. Here, red squirrels, also known as pine squirrels, are not protected and may be shot year round. However, cooking them requires finesse - as they taste like turpentine - unless you take steps. Eastern greys are fast and taste great. I like to make squirrel pot pie out of them.

    • kswat07 profile image
      Author

      kswat07 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Any pellet rifle will work as long and you have proper shot placement. Ifif using a .177 caliber I'd recommend one that travels over 1000 fps but a .22 cal pellet rifle travelling at least 800 fps but would be best. Remember its all about shot placement

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What's best pellet rifle to use

    • butler1850 profile image

      Ed Murphy 4 years ago from New Hampshire

      Like most hunters, I see game that I'm not pursuing, but never the game that I'm out for. Deer when squirrel, moose, or turkey hunting, moose when deer hunting, etc. I'll be out again in the fall, and this lens gives me a couple more things to think about.

    • kswat07 profile image
      Author

      kswat07 4 years ago

      @archangelptx: It can be very funny. I've seen squirrels do some crazy things. I even had one jump on my backpack while I was hiking one day. When you think you've seen it all they will amaze you

    • archangelptx profile image

      archangelptx 4 years ago

      Squirrel hunting sounds like a blast. I bet it would be pretty funny to watch people hunt squirrels also!

    • Mr Criminology profile image

      Bigwas 4 years ago from Philippines

      I live in a country where there is no squirrel but its nice to know something about it.