More than most other wildlife, the vast animal order of Rodentia has lent color, romance, and humor to the American tradition. Our folklore and legends have been enriched by hunters that hunt animals like beavers, deers, chinchillas, etc. But barring such spectacular productions as the chinchillas, porcupines, and beavers, our best-known wild rodents are the squirrels.
This is a large group, roughly split by its members’ habits are the most favorite things to hunt. Especially to start your hunting career, squirrels are among the most exciting small game animals you can easily find with a suitable habitat. With proper squirrel hunting 101 tips, hunting them will be as easy as it can be.
How to Hunt Squirrels
You need to gain good shooting skills for hunting squirrels. Whether the animals are small, they can move and run very fast in the blink of your eyes, so they are a very tough target. It would be best if you got close enough to them to shoot. Here I will give you tips and tricks with a complete guide to squirrel hunting.
There are ten subspecies of the fox squirrel in the eastern half of the United States. The breed’s western limits are west Texas, western Oklahoma and Kansas, western Nebraska, central South Dakota, and western North Dakota.
They spread eastward to the Atlantic seaboard except for parts of Pennsylvania and nearly all of New York, New England, Maine, and New Jersey. Fox types of squirrels are also absent in much of northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s upper peninsula.
Regulation on Hunting Squirrels
Different states have different squirrel hunting regulations. Consult with your state department and follow the rules and regulations and take the proper license. Do not make any excuse that you are not aware of any rules. Read the regulation booklets you will find in any good sporting store, state office, or agency.
Check the right time of the area for shooting squirrels. Also, check the bag limits and make sure you go in the early season. Do not go to any prohibited area for hunting. Follow the limitations of squirrel hunting and maintain all the processes carefully.
Types of Squirrels
To learn how to hunt these species, you need to understand the types of species of squirrels. Of all the American squirrels, only the gray squirrels, Sciurus Carolinians, and the fox squirrels, Sciurus nigers, are essential game animals. But although they’ve climbed around this old continent for a long time, they aren’t native Americans.
Like the white-tailed deer and many other game mammals, the gray and fox types emigrated to the New World eons ago across the ancient land bridge that linked Asia and Alaska.
Difference and likeness of Fox and Gray Squirrels
These gray and fox types are much alike. They are closely related, and their habits and life needs are parallel. But there, the similarity ends.
No two species have the same environment, or they would be the same species. The environment was the mold into which the plastic animalism was poured and from which it took all its color, form, size, and properties.
The ranges of the gray and fox types of species are different. The gray is of heavy forests; the fox squirrel is a borderland kind.
Where to Hunt the Gray Squirrels
The gray squirrel must have trees, but his love for open country tempers his need for them. He is a squirrel of open timber and small groves most of the time. So, for shotguns hunters, you will need to search for that area.
Initially, the grey squirrel’s prime habitat was in the “oak openings” of the forests that formed the long-grass prairie’s eastern margins. Far out into the open country, the fox could be found – and are still found-in narrow groves bordering prairie streams.
The squirrel’s range has broadened since the old days. His newer homelands in the east, north, and west have been caused by conditions attending agriculture-either by the thinning of the dense original forests or establishing new windbreaks and tree stands on the open prairie.
The gray squirrel’s home range is closely linked with the eastern hardwoods, especially oak, hickory, and formerly chestnut. The animal is commonly found in heavily forested bottomlands and giant forests of mature hardwoods with smaller trees and shrubs’ understories. The trees are dense enough so that the squirrels can travel easily through the crowns.
Big Fox Squirrels in Small Game Hunting
This big fox squirrel loves the sky so much that he often lives in hollow trees that stand alone at a bit of distance from the neighboring forest floor. Most hunters see a fox squirrel on a roadside fencepost from several miles. It is more obvious from the nearest tree stand of any size.
Fox squirrels may cross five miles of open prairie to reach the timber beyond and frequently cut hickory nuts from isolated trees in the centers of ample pastures.
In the northern and western parts of their range, fox squirrels are often found on dry, sandy ridges or in well-drained valleys with oaks, hickories, and walnuts.
Florida and Carolina fox squirrels often live in open forests of long-leaf pine and range into the borders of cypress swamps or live in the low, wet stands of black and red mangroves.
Fox squirrels often haunt dense, swampy woods in the south and southeast and floodplain jungles in the Midwest. But more generally, they prefer open groves that let in sunlight and breeze.
Squirrel Hunting 101: Choosing and Using Gears Properly
Guns for Squirrel: What You Need to Know
First of all, you need to consider that the bullet should not damage the meat. Use a suitable shotgun with a shorter barrel to shoot accurately. The shotgun shell covers a larger space of the squirrel’s body, reducing the meat damage.
A 26-inch barrel is great to target the squirrel, and it won’t ruin the flesh.
The downside of a shotgun is, it makes a loud sound, and when you shoot, the other squirrel runs away from that area. The moving part of the shotgun shell is essential here. Choose a .410 gauge shell with 28″ to 30″ barrel length so it can move precisely.
Although shotgun is a significantly safer option as it won’t work in the long-distance, any unnecessary accident won’t happen.
Hunting Squirrel with a Bow
Shotgun is not the only option for hunting squirrels. If you have the skill of aim and accuracy, you can use a bow and arrow to shoot the squirrel at a close distance.
Thus, squirrels are tiny in size. Some of them are less than a foot, so you cannot use a large bow and arrow to hunt them. Before shot, sharpen the arrow and aim correctly. Be very careful; otherwise, a single mistake can damage the meat and fur.
It would help if you practiced a lot to use the bow and arrow. A significant benefit of using archery is that it is very silent, so the other squirrels won’t realize it when you shoot. You can also re-use the arrow if it is not broken, so it is a cheap process to hunt squirrels.
.22 Caliber Rifle for Small Game Squirrel Hunting
This caliber riffle is for an experienced squirrel hunter. You can use this quality squirrel hunting air rifle for any small game and accurately shoot the squirrel as it uses smaller ammunition. You can kill a squirrel long-range without damaging much meat.
Using .22 caliber is not that difficult. It has an automatic reloading feature to shoot multiple rounds, and if you attach a scope on it, you will get a clearer view which is very important, especially for small games.
Air Rifles for Game
Air rifle is another effective gun for squirrels hunting with perfect success. It is the cheapest option for beginners, and the squirrel will die instantly if you can shot at the squirrel’s head.
Other squirrel hunting equipment is a good squirrel scope with comfortable, sturdy boots, hunting knife, hunting coat or vest, etc.
Where to Go for Squirrel Hunting
Squirrels mostly live the areas where has lots of trees. You will see them in almost every place in the US. Any abundant area, oak and hickory tree, nuts, and other trees are a popular area for squirrels. They also love fruits, so any abundant food area is a favorite place for squirrels.
Look for the sign of squirrel activity. If you go to any camping site, look for the area where campers have recently as the squirrels will surely visit those places for searching food. The area of water source is another great place for squirrels.
You need to know where they live, where they go for food, and other details to make your hunting more enjoyable with your friend or family member. Many of the places where squirrel lives are extraordinary for spending time.
The woodchucks, prairie dogs, marmots, chipmunks, spermophiles, and others live in or on the ground, although some can climb trees. In any season, you will find squirrels for the perfect game-hunt.
The tree squirrels will feed on the spot, but they dwell in the forest’s airy canopy and never live in earthen burrows. These are the flying squirrels, the little red chickarees, and the various gray and fox squirrels.
Squirrel Hunting Tips and Methods
You can hunt them with a bit of arrangement. When hunting for squirrels, please choose the right place and keep an eye on their trail. Look for the trees and foliage and listen to their movements on the leaves. When they are in the place, they make sounds like dropping anything on the ground, hulling and scrapping, etc., if you see any cuttings on the ground, squirrels are indeed hiding near.
Throw a stick on the tree to see if any squirrel is hiding behind it. Walk slowly through the woods without making a sound and slowly position for a shot. Usually, you can hunt them in two ways.
Active Squirrel Hunting
To actively hunt squirrels, you need to go out and search for them for being successful. You do not have to maintain many things to hunt them actively. Just take a friend with you and walk through the woods. Wear solid hunting boots and when you see a squirrel, take a good position, aim for the head, and hit them.
You can hunt squirrels and see their movement with a dog’s help. The help comes in different ways as a trained dog can smell a squirrel for long distances and hunt them. In hunting animals small such as this, the help is significant.
Dogs as hunting partners are fantastic, as they can show you the squirrel trails and chase them up a tree. The dog will guard the tree until you kill the squirrel.
Passive Squirrel Hunting
Passively squirrel hunting means going to an exact area where squirrels show themselves. These areas could have plenty of food and trees. Just hide behind a big buck or trees and wait for them to come. It is a relaxing and productive hunting method that is very effective in early summer. You can take your powerful adult bb gun and shoot them anytime for the right hunt.
When to Hunt Squirrel
Early to mid-fall is the best time to hunt squirrels. This time they are searching for food to store for winter.
Best time of day to hunt squirrels
The best time of a day for squirrel hunting is early morning when they scavenge for food. They are also active in the early afternoon for foraging.
However, different kinds of squirrels are most active at different times. But they like clear and sunny weather. In winter, go for them to hunt in mid-morning to early afternoon.
What Is The Best Gun to Squirrel Hunt
The best weapon to squirrel hunt is a .22 caliber rifle. Although it is costly, it won’t damage the meat, and you can easily target squirrels with that weapon. Air guns are also best for squirrel hunting as they can fire .177 caliber or .22 caliber.
What to Wear Squirrel Hunting
You should wear a coat or vest for squirrel hunting. Blaze orange is the best color for it. Wear a coat that has multiple pockets. An orange long brimmed hat will keep your head cool and will increase your visibility.
Same color gloves will be suitable for you to handle a rifle in cold weather. Comfortable, sturdy boots are also essential when hunting in woods or another place.
Remember, camouflage is evident here. Wear camo pants and camo long sleeve shirts with a base layer if the weather is cold.
Where to Shoot a Squirrel
It would help if you did not let an animal suffer after shooting them. It is recommended to shoot at the head of the squirrel so they can die instantly without suffering.
This way, you can get both the fur and meat. Although shooting at the head is very challenging, especially for small animals, you can aim for the heart. This will also kill the squirrel instantly.
Try not to shoot at the body. Observe them. Do not shoot when squirrels are running; otherwise, you could hurt them and damage the meat. Wait until they sit. Allow a good position when you shoot.
Squirrels Hunting Tips in the Forest
This squirrel is a lover of hardwood forests in big, relatively unbroken tracts. The general age and makeup of gray squirrel forests strongly resemble those of the fox —but that’s about all. In regions where both kinds occur, each tends to occupy a separate environment-one in woodlots and edges and the other in the deep forest. Intermingling between the two is not common.
When grey and fox types are found in the same woods, the latter usually keep to the more minor creek drainages and the uplands. Finding them in 30 yards isn’t a problem there, and you can catch them without any issue.
How Far Can You Shoot?
Squirrels are tiny animals, and they move very fast, so you can not shoot them from a long distance. You can shoot a maximum of 20 to 35 yards, and that’s why the shotgun, .22 caliber rifle, air gun are used here to give a proper shot.
Do not try to shoot from a long distance as it may damage the meat, and other squirrels will be scared and run away.
If you need to shoot from a long distance, use a .22 caliber rifle or use bow and arrow. But remember, be careful about your surroundings.
What Squirrel You Can Hunt
You can hunt various breeds of squirrels in many states. Grey and fox types are the most famous squirrel for hunting. Some states allow hunting them both, and some states do not permit them. However, you do not need a license to kill squirrels when they ruin your corps or property.
An important tip is if you want to shoot a tree squirrel, look for the red one. Grey squirrels are ground squirrels, so be prepared to shoot them in the area.