Fun with Squirrel Hunting
We have all been there, sitting in our tree stand, waiting and intensely listening for that big eight pointer to make his way through the woods, when all of a sudden you hear something moving in the thickets. You wait and strain your eyes to see any signs of movement and then out of nowhere a squirrel appears. At that moment you wish you were a squirrel hunter and that you had a 22 to shoot it with. Well, it seems that when you are actually looking for them, they can be a little harder to find.
Deer, turkey, and ducks tend to be the most popular types of hunting. While they are great, often times you can have just as much fun doing some small game hunting. While you may be accustomed to the squirrels in residential neighborhoods and other places, the ones in the woods are a bit more cunning and harder to hunt then you would think. Also, You will be surprised that the more you squirrel hunt, the better you will hone your skills as a hunter and outdoorsmen, and this will help you in your big game pursuits.
The Basics of Squirrel Hunting
Squirrels can be extremely elusive creatures, and they usually tend to pop up when you least expect them too. That is why any squirrel hunter that is worth a damn knows how to move through the forest, so he will not spook his prey. You can find squirrels throughout the day, but they are usually the most active at dawn and dusk when they leave their nests and begin searching for food.
So it is good to be ready to get started a little before the sun comes up, and once the sun is up you should begin your hunt. While you are hunting it is very important that you move through the woods as slowly and silently as possible. Squirrels are always on the lookout for predators, whether it’s a fox or a hawk, and they will be very suspicious of twigs breaking and leaves rustling. So, like any kind of hunting you want to make your way through the woods silently as possible.
When Squirrels hear a predator approaching, they will usually sit still and watch for the approaching predator. This is a perfect opportunity to use the restless hand technique. This is where you rustle the leaves around you which will make the other squirrels think that it is safe because another squirrel has gone back to feeding.
Where to Find Them?
Squirrels inhabit the entire United States, and you may be used to seeing them in your backyard or neighborhood, but it seems like every time you are hunting them they are nowhere to be found. You will want to look for an area that has a number of oak trees, preferably white oak over red oaks.
Just because you have found an area with oaks, doesn’t mean the squirrels will be there. Look around for signs that squirrels have been eating the acorns in that area. You will notice this by looking for acorns that have been freshly cut, and they will have bright edges where the squirrels have been eating. If you can narrow this down, you know squirrels have been nearby and were eating there.
Some other trees that you can look for are walnuts, beechnuts, and hickory nuts. If these are abundant in your area, you are likely to find squirrels; also if you bait deer, you can often times find squirrels on your corn pile as well. One tactic that you can use is to get in a canoe or kayak and paddle a river surrounded by oak and other hardwoods, as you will be likely to find squirrels feasting, and they usually do not pay attention to the water for predators.
Choosing the right gun
Squirrel hunting is where you separate the good shots from the great shots. They can be really tough to hit, not just because they are small, but they are fast. They will keep you guessing as you try to draw a bead on them, and they are bouncing from tree to tree.
Most hunters like to use a 410 or a 20 gauge fully choked shotgun during the early season. You will also want to use a number 5 or 6 magnum load. These rounds will be able to blast through the heavy foliage that will be present. It is not recommended that you use a 22 rimfire during the early season, because making pinpoint shots through leaves and branches can be difficult.
When the leaves start to fall, you can break out that old rimfire 22 and put it to good use. It is definitely a challenge even if you are using a scoped 22, and if you really want to test your marksmanship, try using open sites. It will change your entire experience, and you will improve your shooting skills with practice.
Hunting with a Dog
Using a dog to hunt squirrels is about as classic of a southern hunt that you can do. It adds a whole other element, and if you haven’t had the pleasure to hunt with dogs, then you are truly missing out on a great experience. Just try to keep up, and once you get a squirrel treed and you knock it down, a dog can be great at retrieving a wounded squirrel before it gets away.
Squirrel hunting is an amazing past time. Taking the time away from your big game hunting and getting back to the art of squirrel hunting will only make you a better hunter and outdoorsman. They can be difficult to track and shoot, and you will learn how to take the tactics of squirrel hunting and apply them to your other pursuits.
Also, this is one of the best ways to introduce a child to the sport. It can be a lot of action, and you will constantly be moving and keeping your son or daughter engaged. He or she will learn the basics of hunting, and you will be creating memories.