Squirrel Hunting: Getting Started

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Published on: Jul. 15, 2013

allergic to poison ivy, that’s another hazard to look out for. Visit the online Field Guide if you need a refresher on what it looks like.

Choice of firearm is up to the hunter. A muzzleloading rifle, even of heavy caliber, is well suited for taking squir­rels if all shots are limited to the head. A scoped .22 pistol is another option that adds challenge to squirrel hunting.

Most squirrel hunters choose to hunt with either a scoped .22 rifle or a shotgun. A .22 rifle, if all shots are limited to the head, leaves squirrels in fine shape for cook­ing. The shooting is quite challenging. Shotguns are a great choice for hunting squirrels, though efforts must be made to reduce the chance of riddling squirrels with pel­lets. Use large shot size, like 4s, which limits the number of pellets. Learn your shotgun’s pattern at different ranges and hold your aim in front of a squirrel so as to just hit the squirrel’s head with the edge of your pattern. Also, try and limit shots to when only a squirrel’s head is visible, like when one peeks from behind a limb. Always be aware

Hunting Strategy

The number-one key to hunting any game animal is plac­ing yourself where the animals are at times when they are active. Doing so requires knowledge of the animals you hunt. Here’s a basic rundown on the habits of gray and fox squirrels.

In early morning, they emerge from their leaf nests or den trees and are active for two or three hours, with much of this time spent feeding. Midday, gray and fox squirrels tend to loaf on limbs or sleep. During the last two or three hours of daylight they are active again, feeding until close to dark, at which time they return to their leaf nests or dens for the night.

Gray and fox squirrels have two breeding seasons in Missouri: one that extends from late May through early July, and another from late December through early Feb­ruary. During these breeding seasons, squirrels are often active all day, with male squirrels fighting among them­selves or chasing females.

Both gray and fox squirrels make a variety of sounds. To express excitement and warn other squirrels, they give a rapid call that sounds like “cherk-cherk-cherk.” Other calls include grunts, purrs, and chattering of teeth, the meaning of which may be varied.

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