Autumn is the upon us and there are a multitude of squirrels out there just waiting for you to shoot them. Don’t think you have to make it complicated to enjoy an afternoon chasing these furry denizens of the forest. Here are ten tremendous tips to help you come home loaded down with delicious white meat.
1. Hunt the yellow. Like any game animal, hunt the food source. In the early fall, yellow leafs are a dinner bell for limb chickens. Black walnuts in Minnesota, hickory in Wisconsin, and pecans down in Illinois. Find a yellow tree and find your squirrels.
2. At sunrise, don’t shoot the first one. Letting more than one squirrel make its appearance before shooting works well at day break, and results in a some fast action shooting.
3. Wear camo. You don’t have to step into the woods dressed like Rambo, but it’ll help you see more squirrels. For some reason, a slow creeping camoflage blob just pisses a lot of squirrels off. They come bark at you, and you shoot them in the face. Good times had by all.
4. Stay on the move. I like to put a time limit on my ambush locations. Usually, in 20 minutes squirrels will appear if they are active and in the area. When I change locations, I do it slowly and normally don’t travel more than 100 yards if I’m in good hardwood forest.
5. Bring a friend. Squirrels naturally circle to the other side of the tree as danger approaches. Having a friend along will keep them moving to the other side presenting a shot to one of you.
6. Choose your gun wisely. If you fancy yourself the sniper type, try using a 22 or a powerful airgun. But if like me you’re only an average or poor shot I highly suggest you go with your shotgun. Many of my shots come at fleeing squirrels when they are moving from tree to tree (timbering). I can go through .22 bullets pretty fast chasing a cat squirrel. Plus, that whole notion of a 22 bullet travelling a mile. So I use a 12 gauge shotgun with a modified choke, size 4-6 shells.
7. Follow your shot. Unless you see the squirrel lying there dead, go to it. Otherwise, they can cover a lot of ground and there instinct is to crawl into a hole. DO NOT STICK YOUR HAND IN A SQUIRREL HOLE.
8. Float a squirrel. I love hunting from canoes and learned early in life a squirrel will float–for a while. However, they don’t take the best photos when wet.
9. Use Blanket Pins to carry your take. Upland game bird bags were my go to choice for years. But now I don’t like them for squirrels because they leave the squirrel in a curled position once rigor mortis sets in. This makes skinning a chore. Second, in warm weather they can get too hot. These gigantic safety pins are the answer. Clip them to a backpack; or even better a belt loop, and proudly show off your bloody pants leg to all your friends.
10. Bring some high-quality game shears. Take a look at this video about how to clean a squirrel. Simple, effective, and much better than the traditional casing method. Art in its highest form.
So take a day off soon and get after some squirrels. Do you have any tips for a better squirrel hunt? I’d like to hear them.