Time for Squirrels to Start Cuttin’ Hickory Nuts

Published on: Aug. 14, 2010

Fox Squirrel in Hickory TreeThe Ozarks have been like most of the Midwest for the last three or four weeks--very hot and, for the most part, dry. This is typical for late July and August but also signals that we’re heading toward the end of summer. A couple of other things it always brings to mind for me are school starting up and squirrels feeding on hickory nuts. In our area both of these usually begin right around Aug. 15.

Squirrel Season Is Open

Squirrel season opened on the fourth Saturday in May and will remain open until Feb. 15. The daily limit of squirrels is 10 and the possession limit, or the most any one person can have whether in camp or at home, is 20. Squirrels may be hunted with a dog, but the most common method in our area is likely still hunting.

Where to Find Squirrels Right Now

Right now and for the next three weeks or so, though, an often very productive method is just to find a hickory tree that is loaded with hickory nuts and sit down close to it. After just a few minutes of sitting quietly you will very likely hear the grinding noise of a squirrel cutting the husks off the hickory nuts, followed by the sound of those cuttings falling through the leaves and to the ground. If you do you’ve found a hot spot that many squirrels are likely to be working, and you may be able to get a good start on filling that daily limit.

Take Your Time

Don’t be in a hurry to get to the first squirrel you shoot, though; just sit quietly and in a few minutes you’ll likely hear another one or two working the same tree. A trick I like to use to calm those remaining squirrels back into feeding mode after any shooting is to rub the ribbed edges of two quarters together. To do this hold one quarter flat and the other crosswise to it and then just apply pressure against them while scratching one with the other. Done correctly, this produces a sound that very closely mimics the grinding of a squirrel’s teeth on a hickory nut and can reduce the amount of time you have to wait between shots. I also think it, to a certain degree, calls more distant squirrels to your location.

Share the Tradition

Now, if you really want to have fun, pick a nice and somewhat cooler morning to go; but also ask one of those kids who so recently had to start school again to go with you. They’ll love it, and I guarantee you will too. After the hunt, squirrel with biscuits and gravy will just be a bonus!

MDC Places to Squirrel Hunt in Shannon County

Sunklands Conservation Area, Angeline Conservation Area, Rocky Creek Conservation Area, Current River Conservation Area and Birch Creek Conservation Area.

Key Messages: 

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.


On December 1st, 2010 at 12:58pm cardem said:

The taste of squirrel certainly depends on preparation. I know several local folks who love a good mess of squirrel for breakfast.   At a recent workshop we held at Twin Pines to introduce area youth to squirrel hunting, we fed them squirrel dumplings.  Like all Missouri wildlife, season limits are set depending on the number of animals, the available food for the animals and the number of people hunting. We want ony the surplus harvested. Hunting is an important part of wildlife management.   

On November 21st, 2010 at 10:26pm Teeth Whitener said:

Those squirrels' teeth are really strong to nibble those hickory nuts!

On October 25th, 2010 at 10:02am Anonymous said:

How long can you keep them before you have to cook them, sqiurrels, that is ?

On October 6th, 2010 at 12:20pm Jerry said:

Many people are against hunting squirrel. 10 a day seems like a large number. What do you do with them after you shoot them? I remember as a child, mom used to make squirrel stew and it was good but, the meat, to me, seem to have a wild taste. A good opportunity to add more of your favorite hot sauce...

On September 23rd, 2010 at 12:36pm cardem said:

Thanks for the comment on Agent Hadley's article.  I'm sure he'd agree we need more hunters who are willing to share their love of the outdoors with the next generation of enthusiasts.  Keep up the good work.

On September 2nd, 2010 at 6:56am Free Guitar Lessons Online said:

I find it interesting to learn about this information. I am really looking forward for your updates. Thank you so much for taking time.

On August 18th, 2010 at 4:13pm CB said:

Thanks for the tips. I love squirrel hunting and have gone for many years, never heard of the quarter trick before. Taking a kid with you is always a plus. We have to teach the next generation proper hunting and conservation.
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