Trail cameras help N.C. hunter kill trophy fox squirrel

Lee Jones killed this rare color phase fox squirrel after first spotting in on trail cam photos.

Trail cameras are not just for deer hunting

Lee Jones of Greene County, N.C. uses trail cameras like most other hunters — to get a good look at the deer that are frequenting his hunting grounds. Hunters kill big bucks every year thanks to the 24-hour surveillance these tools provide. And sometimes, it helps hunters kill other types of trophies.

That was the case for Jones, who first saw an almost white fox squirrel on trail camera photos on Dec. 1. He’s killed his share of fox squirrels in various color phases over the years, but this one was special to him. After seeing that photo, he laid down his deer rifle for several days, opting to hunt the fox squirrel instead. He finally killed it the day after Christmas.

“After several attempts with no success and countless hours in a ground blind, I finally got a chance at him the day after Christmas. I have killed several different color phase fox squirrels. But this one is by far the most special one to me,” he said.

Jones shot the prized squirrel with No. 6 shot from his Browning BPS 12-gauge shotgun.

Fox squirrels are prized by many hunters

Fox squirrels are not exactly rare, but they are far less plentiful than their smaller cousins, gray squirrels. In North Carolina, it is legal to kill fox squirrels in only 27 counties, and the season runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31. The densest population is in the eastern part of the state, and a good many also live in the extreme northwestern section They are much more populous in South Carolina, but again, much less so than the grays. The S.C. season runs through March 1, and they can be hunted in all counties. However, some WMAs in the state prohibit hunting fox squirrels.

Fox squirrels are about twice the size of gray squirrels, and are the largest tree squirrel in the Carolinas. They primarily live among mature pine forests, and forests with a mixture of pines and oak trees. These animals are slower to adapt to changing environments than grays, but fox squirrels have recently begun to establish themselves in open hardwood forests that are surrounded by agricultural fields and other open areas.

Fox squirrels are found in several different color phases. (NCWRC photo)

Native to the Carolinas

Unlike gray squirrels, which are very social, fox squirrels are solitary, so their population density is low, even in parts of both states with established numbers.

Fox squirrels are native to the Carolinas and the eastern U.S., except for the New England states. The animal has seven subspecies, and two subspecies of fox squirrels live in the Carolinas. They can be found throughout both states in several different color phases. Some are solid black, some are black with a white spot on their head, some are white with a black spot on their head, some are rust colored, and some are mottled with various colors throughout their body. They also usually have a white nose.

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About Brian Cope 2204 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.