Hunters across the Carolinas have just a few more days to spend in the woods hunting squirrels. With deer season long gone, fewer hunters are in the woods, and most of the foliage has fallen from all the trees. This makes a tree-bound squirrel easier to spot and to shoot.
No matter the time of year, some squirrel hunters seem to have more luck than others, and they rarely have an unsuccessful hunt. Stacy Atkinson of Timmonsville, S.C., is one of those hunters who seems to always get his limit. While he won’t argue that he is a good shot, he said there’s one thing that will give every hunter a better chance to bag more bushytails.
“It’s really a two-man sport, because once squirrels see a hunter approaching, they will run to one side of the tree and just stay put until danger is gone. Having two hunters is a big help there,” he said.
But many two-man hunting teams come away from such encounters empty-handed. That’s because they don’t realize something that Atkinson figured out a long time ago.
“If both hunters are just standing there, the squirrel still has the advantage. He will hide out of shooting range just on the other side of the tree, and even if the two hunters are standing opposite each other, that squirrel can perch at the right angle to prevent either hunter from getting a clean shot,” he said.
The trick, Atkinson said, is to have one hunter stand still while the other hunter walks all the way around the tree. The walking hunter doesn’t have to be quiet or do anything special except walk around the tree.
“When one hunter is moving, that squirrel is only going to worry about that hunter. He’s not going to worry about the hunter who’s standing still. Walking around the tree will push that squirrel around it every time, right into shooting range of the standing hunter,” he said.
Atkinson said it’s also a good idea for one hunter to carry a shotgun while the other carries a small rifle like a .22 or a .17 for taking long-distance shots. His final tip? Get a dog.
“I can’t begin to explain how much having a dog adds to squirrel hunting. It’s much more fun, and you will simply kill more squirrels than you ever could without it,” he said.
North Carolina's squirrel season ends Feb. 28, and South Carolina's ends March 1.