The 2010 squirrel season opened on May 22 and remains open through next Feb. 15. Many of today’s deer and turkey hunters’ earliest hunting experiences were squirrel hunts with a .22 rifle or shotgun. When some of our older hunters were growing up, the deer and turkey hunting opportunities that we have today were not available. Squirrel hunting was a great sport and a way to put meat on the table back then. It remains so today.
Squirrels are a good introduction to hunting because they are usually easy to find; but hunting them successfully requires stealth, knowledge of their habits and accurate shooting. Equipment needs are minimal, a gun and camouflage clothing, and a person can hunt alone or with others, with or without a squirrel dog (Hunting with dogs is restricted during the November portion of the firearms deer season in some Ozark counties.).
After turkey hunting on central Missouri conservation areas during the past month, I can attest to the local abundance of squirrels. Of course, it’s usual when you are hunting one species to see plenty of the game that you’re not hunting. Squirrels seem to be an underutilized resource in Missouri today, with many former squirrel hunters no longer participating. That is one reason behind the increase in bag and possession limits for Missouri hunters this year. The daily limit moved from six to 10 and the possession limit from 12 to 20. A small-game hunting permit is required and the use of cage-type traps is allowed in addition to shooting.
Squirrel hunting in Missouri has no appreciable effect on our squirrel population, which fluctuates primarily with the previous year’s availability of their food sources. Acorn crops are a driving factor in the Ozarks. Northern Missouri populations are more stable because of those animals’ greater reliance on agricultural crops.
Perhaps you are one of those former squirrel hunters who gave it up somewhere along your hunting career. The opportunity is still there, and it’s a long time before other hunting options return in the fall.