Many hunters have put away their hunting clothes and are either looking forward to the spring for turkey hunting, or dreading the time before deer season opens in the fall. But other hunters are still in the woods, staying sharp on the trigger while chasing squirrels.
Squirrel hunting season is still in for the rest of this month, and with fewer hunters to compete with, it’s a great time to get in the woods and have some fun with these small animals that can provide some pretty fast action. But it takes more than just walking into the woods and pulling the trigger.
These five tips will help.
1) Don’t sit still. Most hardwoods are bare of leaves this time of year, and with squirrels out and about during the day, they’re not difficult to find. Stalking is very effective, especially when you’re pressed for time before dusk dark comes on.
2) Hide your face. Stalking requires good camouflage, and not wearing it is a big mistake. Many deer hunters complain of all the squirrels they see during deer season, but say those squirrels are elusive when actually hunting them. Those same hunters though, often wear blue jeans, colorful shirts, and don’t wear face masks once deer season closes.
The biggest advantage of stalking is that it allows you to cover ground quickly, which generally gives you access to more squirrels. You might see three squirrels while sitting in one spot, but once you shoot the first one, the other two are going to hunker down and hide. If you can wait them out, you’ll get another one, but it will often take 10 minutes or more before they make another move after hearing your first shot. When stalking, you’re already 100 yards away with another squirrel or two in your game bag by then.
3) Use the right gun. Small caliber rifles like .22 or .17 are great choices and keep your aim sharp, but a .410 or 20-gauge shotgun is also good, and when used with a full choke and No. 6 shot, can preserve just as much meat by allowing accurate head shots.
4) Use the coin trick. Once a squirrel spots you, they’ll often scurry to the other side of the tree, staying put until they see you again, which will prompt them to run around once more. But one thing will trick them into showing themselves too early, offering you an easy shot.
Carry two quarters in your jacket pocket, and when a squirrel plays hide-and-seek with you, snap the two coins together, which sounds like an acorn being cracked open by another squirrel. This will usually bring your squirrel out of hiding.
5) When stalking, it’s good to pause often to scan the forest floor. It’s not uncommon to see squirrels on the ground which can result in an easy shot.