Small Game, Predator and Trapping From shooting squirrels in your backyard to calling coyotes in Arizona. This forum now contains trapping information.


Old 04-06-2004, 07:49 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Da Burbs in North Rockland
Posts: 531

Squirrel hunting is a great sport, whether you enjoy it by yourself or with a group of fellow hunters. As great a time as it is, it can become downright frustrating sometimes. It becomes painfully obvious to any squirrel hunter that the squirrels that live in the woods are a little more shy than their "city folk" relatives. Here's a look at two of my preferred methods of finding these furry woodland creatures:

Probably my favorite method is still hunting. I would guess that it's not as productive as stand hunting for squirrels, but I always enjoy a good walk in the woods on a crisp fall day. Still hunting for squirrels merely consists of walking a short distance, then stopping and scanning the tree-tops. I usually walk no more than 15 steps, or so, at a time. Then, I usually stop and watch the tree tops for about five minutes looking for any movement. It takes a bit of practice to "train your eyes" for squirrels. At first, your attention will be drawn to nearly every tree branch that moves in the wind. Give it some time, and you'll find yourself tuning out the movement of trees, and zoning in on the squirrels. On an afternoon when the sun is high those fuzzy tails will be silhoutted against the sky. Sometimes the hair on a squirrels tail will even seem to glow in the sunlight. I've taken many squirrels that were hidden behind branches just by seeing that tail hair lit up in the sunlight. Still hunting is also a great method for a group of hunters. A lot of times a group of five or six of us will form a line, and move uniformly through the woods. We always stay within easy sight distance of one another. When one person stops to watch, we all stop and watch. A spooked squirrel will usually try to circle to the opposite side of the tree from the person who scared it. With multiple hunters, have one person remain stationary on one side of the tree, while another circles the tree. This will usually bring the squirrel around, making an easy shot for the stationary hunter. I usually carry a shotgun when I still hunt, even in the late season when there's no leaves on the trees. A shotgun makes it much easier to take a running squirrel. It also offers the added benefit of allowing you to take any upland birds you may jump while hunting. I've found that #6 shot out of my 20 gauge is the perfect shot load for squirrels. The #6 will penetrate their hide, without ruining much meat. Be sure to watch closely after firing your scattergun. Other squirrels in the area will often run after hearing the report. It's not uncommon to shoot one and scare up a few more, so keep your eyes open! Still hunting also offers the added advantage of allowing you to do some deer scouting while in the woods. Since you're walking around anyway, be sure to take note of any deer sign that you come across.

My other preffered method is stand hunting. Think about how many times you've been on your deer stand (if you're a deer hunter) and been "swarmed" by squirrels. Is it because you have your deer rifle, and aren't squirrel hunting at the time? Squirrels may be that intuitive, but it's unlikely! More likely, is that because squirrels have such a short memory, they forget that danger is present. Usually when I hear the term stand hunting I think of a tree stand. You certainly can climb a tree, but it's really not necessary. Stand hunting simply consists of finding a likely location for squirrels, then sitting and waiting for them to go back to their activities. I usually try to sit for at least half an hour in one location before moving on. When stand hunting, I prefer to use my .22 LR, even in the early season when the leaves are still on. The .22 allows more precise shot placement on the squirrels that aren't alarmed, and aren't running. It also has a much quieter report than a shotgun, which means that the squirrels will resume their activity in less time following a shot. Sometimes I'll carry a chatter call, or a "nut cutting" call when stand hunting. A chatter call is a great locator, and will sometimes cause the squirrels to relax quicker after moving into a location. I've found though, that sometimes the chatter call sounds too "angry" to the squirrels and causes them to hole up. That's when I use the "nut cutting" call. This sounds like a squirrel cutting acorns, and causes the squirrels to relax. I'll also use this after taking a shot to get the squirrels to come out again. When you shoot a squirrel while still hunting, don't go to pick it up right away. Your movement will scare the squirrels, then you'll be sitting for nearly half an hour again waiting for them to relax. Instead, make a note of where the squirrel fell. Some hunters even take markers that they can throw to that location to make finding the squirrel easier.

Whether still or stand hunting, always remember safety first! Be sure to wear your blaze orange, and always know where all of the other hunters in your group are at.

Good luck, and good hunting!
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Old 04-09-2004, 09:45 PM
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