Squirrel Hunting Made Easy

By Ned Rice | October 2, 1997
From Missouri Conservationist: Oct 1997

I've hunted squirrels for over 50 years and during that time, by hit or miss, I've gathered a lot of information on the subject.

At first you must select a good woods to hunt. Look for large mature trees. Look for pecan or hickory trees. Learn the woods you hunt like the back of your hand.

You will find one, two or three areas that contain most of the squirrels. Forget the rest of the woods and go to these hot spots. You can then go to another woods and repeat the same process, building up your knowledge of good hunting spots.

Unless your eyes are a lot better than mine, forget about looking for a squirrel in a tree nearby. If you move around, the squirrel will see you and it becomes a game of hide and seek. Most of the time you will be the loser with a sore neck.

The best method, if you are moving slowly through the woods, is to scan the trees about 100 yards ahead. If a squirrel moves or jumps on a limb you will see it.

Actually, your ears are better for finding a squirrel. When it barks, jumps on a limb or cuts a hickory nut, you can pick up the noise from far away.

If you have a squirrel high in a tree that you can't see, just sit down and wait. Many times you can take another squirrel coming to the same tree and get them both.

If you are hunting under a nut tree where a squirrel is cutting and can't locate the bushy tail, slip under the tree and follow the hulls to the source. Once you locate the squirrel, you can step back and take your shot.

Never make any quick moves and when walking over leaves go as slow as possible. Put your feet down gently, avoiding sticks.

If you are in an opening and see a squirrel in the distance, try to circle until you get a large tree between you and the quarry.

I use a shotgun for squirrels and I never shoot one facing away from me. It will put all the shot in the hind legs and back.

Much of my hunting was done along the river where vegetation was thick. Many squirrels coming toward me would be too close by the time I could see them. Frustrated, I finally came up with the idea of aiming in front of their nose a few inches (depending on the distance) and putting most of the shot in the head. It makes for a clean kill with none or little shot in the meat.

Little hunting is done before the nuts are ripe. Squirrels are more spread out and difficult to find. If you have a park with hickory trees close by, check under them periodically to see if the squirrels have begun cutting.

If you approach a nut tree that has several squirrels on it, don't move when you kill the first one. Mark where it falls and the others will resume cutting.

I use a light or medium load and find them adequate for squirrels. Maximum load puts too many shot in the squirrel. If a squirrel is out a little far, have patience; it may come your way or you might slip a little closer. Remember, two steps is two yards closer.

Before any beginner starts to hunt, they need to see how their shotgun or rifle shoots. For a shotgunner, it is important to gauge distances. A gray squirrel is out of range at 40 yards. If a squirrel is in gun range, don't get in a hurry to shoot. It may present itself for a better shot in a minute or two.

Many hunters don't seem to care how many times they shoot. I grew up in the '30s and '40s and we tried to conserve ammunition. Not only will this save your money, it will make you a better shot.

Many people do not like to eat squirrel but I've found they are delicious barbecued or fixed with teriyaki sauce.

I once invited a friend to go hunting with me along the river. I knew the woods well and he didn't. When we left the car at dawn, we walked in a narrow field with woods on both sides.

I stopped and pointed to the woods to our left and gave him directions to the best tree in the woods. I left him there, thinking I would go in the woods on the right, where there were some hickories at a considerable distance. I only walked about 200 feet and even before I stepped in the woods, I spied nine squirrels on an oak tree. I quickly emptied my gun twice and had six squirrels.

To this day, I get a guilty feeling when I meet my friend. I'm not sure he believes what I say!

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Tom Cwynar
Assistant Editor - Charlotte Overby
Managing Editor - Jim Auckley
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
Designer - Tracy Ritter
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Composition - Libby Bode Block
Circulation - Bertha Bainer