Squirrels can be a deer hunter’s best friends

Squirrels are not only a popular small-game animal in the Carolinas, they can be a distant early warning system for hunters that deer are entering an area.

Hunters invest countless hours in a deer stand under a wide variety of conditions. And after years of sitting motionless in the stand and watching the time tick by, they have practically earned a master’s degree in several outdoor disciplines, including interpreting nature’s signals, which can come in many forms, including wildlife alerts.

Veteran hunter Mike Herron of Burlington, N.C., thinks one of the most important animal behavior markers in the woods isn’t from a deer at all.

“Squirrels are always my favorite,” he said. “When they start barking, you better get ready, because a deer or a coyote is on the way.”

When squirrels are out tumbling in the leaves and caching acorns for the winter, rarely will they allow a deer or turkey to pass by without announcing their presence. Typically, deer hunters will hear a stick break or something to alert them of a deer on the way, but squirrels will pick up on these deer long before hunters.

While squirrels are the best indicator for deer coming, other wildlife, including turkeys and blue jays will also signal when a deer is coming. Hunters should always be on the lookout for deer coming, but when they can’t, the squirrels and other wildlife will signal their approach.

About Jeff Burleson 1311 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.