The winter weather hasn’t become too severe yet and deer seasons in some parts of the nation are winding down or outright closed.
What better way to extract some justice from those furry, scurrying critters that filled your heart with false hope during deer season with every initial rustle in the leaves and fill your pot for a delicious cold-weather stew at the same time, than slipping into the woods for a little squirrel hunting action.
The creatures are plentiful virtually everywhere and for many of us, squirrels were the game by which we were first brought into the hunting fold.
One of the best ways to fill a brace of squirrels is to find a good spot, set up, sit quietly and wait for squirrels to move. But don’t just walk into the woods and sit down wherever there’s a big enough tree to lean against. Think your approach out; focus on a squirrels favorite thing at this time of year—food.
In early fall, squirrels were focusing on beechnuts and absent those, acorns. The beechnuts are likely gone by now, eaten by everything, but remnant acorns are still going to attract bushytails. Find a nice oak flat or large, mature white oaks that dropped plenty of fat nuts earlier in the fall. Squirrels will dig in the leaves and probably be nested nearby. In late winter, field edges where waste grains or old peanuts and beans can be found will attract squirrels into the open throughout the early morning and afternoon.
After finding a few good food sources, check the trees above for squirrel nests or large hardwood trees with hollows in them or large cracks that can serve as denning sites. Rock the camo and set up at the base of a tree to break up your silhouette. These aren’t the same squirrels in your neighborhood. They will bolt and bark at anything that doesn’t look right. Sit still and wait for them to start moving about.
You want a tack driving .22 LR for this loaded with Winchester Super-X Hollow Point or Lead Round Nose or DynaPoint loads. .22 Win. Mag., .22 Short and .17 HMR are also options, but .22 LR is by far the most used caliber among experienced small game hunters. Use your knees or a tree to steady your shot and go for the head. After dropping a squirrel or two, you can sit tight for about 20 minutes before the little critters begin stirring again, or you can slip off to one of those other hot spots you identified and get to work.
Photo courtesy USFWS