Going squirrel hunting is a great way for beginners to learn how to track and shoot small game. Taking down these bushy-tailed critters is easy to learn, requires very few pieces of equipment, and doesn't need specialized training/education.
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7 Squirrel Hunting Tips Every Beginner Should Know About
1. Hunt at the Right Time of Day
We suggest getting a head start and arriving before sunset if you're planning a day hunting trip. Squirrels start their days early. In fact, you'll see multiple squirrel drays scampering around the hunting site scavenging for food from sunset up around 10 in the morning.
If early morning hunting trips aren't your thing, delay the session to around 3 P.M. Although not as active as they are in the morning, squirrels continue foraging for food until late in the afternoon. They'll stop once the sun sets completely.
Avoid planning your hunting trip between 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. because these rodents usually rest during these times of the day. You won't get a good shot if they're burrowed in tree trunks.
2. Identify the Best Squirrel Hunting Season
Squirrels are most active during spring and fall as this is the time of year when they start stocking up on food for the winter. They stay active almost all day during these seasons.
Does this mean you should hunt squirrels during spring and fall? Not necessarily. If you're hunting squirrels to hone your shooting and tracking skills, you can opt to hunt them during spring, fall, and summer when they're extremely active.
However, if you plan to eat the squirrels you take down, avoid hunting in the summer. Small bushy-tailed rodents like squirrels are prone to lice, tick, and mite infestations during the warmer seasons of the year. These diseases make them unsafe for consumption.
It's safe to consume squirrel meat hunted during fall and spring. However, if you really want to reduce the risk of getting an infected game, we suggest going squirrel hunting during the winter. Lice and mite infestations are warm-season complications.
3. Observe Effects of Weather on Squirrel Activity
As with any other animal, squirrel activity heavily depends on the weather. As we mentioned, squirrels dislike hot temperatures and would likely rest during the warmest parts of the day. That's why squirrel hunting in the summer should always be done either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Although, this isn't to say squirrels dislike sunny weather. On the contrary, they're most active and eager on clear, sunny days with no chances of rain. You'll see them running around treetops.
Alternatively, rain hampers squirrel activity. Even a light drizzle would force these bushy-tailed critters to come down from treetops and seek shelter near trunks and thick roots.
So when should you hunt squirrels? It depends on your preference. What's important is understanding the effects of weather on squirrel activity and utilizing the information to your advantage.
For example, if you're hunting on a sunny day, time your trip at dawn or dusk. Meanwhile, if you go hunting on days with light drizzling, be aware that most squirrels will be seeking shelter on the ground rather than in treetops.
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4. Choose the Correct Squirrel Hunting Gear
Shotguns and rifles are the perfect long-range squirrel hunting guns. Make sure to use one that you can easily handle. Most beginners tend to underestimate the recoil power of heavy artillery.
Also, bring a hunting knife and handgun. These will come in handy in cases where you fail to take the squirrel down in one shot so you have to do a follow-up.
5. Be Patient
Squirrels are extremely fast. Even a seasoned shooter with over 90% accuracy would have trouble landing a decent shot on a moving squirrel.
With that in mind, it's best to stay patient and wait for your target to stop moving. Don't fire your weapon until you have a clear shot placement.
6. Outsmart the Target's Senses
Studies show that squirrels have hyperactive senses. They have a heightened sense of sight, hearing, and smell, so don't expect to trick their senses that easily.
Although, this isn't to say that you cannot outsmart these rodents. There are a few counteractive measures you can do to prevent your target from running off right away.
First, strip off all unnatural scents from your body. Shower with unscented soap and shampoo, bring a decent scent eliminator, and if possible, wear your clothes at the hunting site. The last tip is done to reduce exposure to outside elements.
Second, stay light on your feet. Squirrels have amazing hearing that's around two and a half times greater than that of a human. If you don't take extra care not to rustle leaves or step on twigs, your target will scamper off before you even get close to it.
Last, stay out of sight. Squirrels have a whole-retina vision that allows them to see everything in front, beside, or behind them. Perhaps their only blind side is the small strip at the top of their heads.
7. Understand Shot Placement
Contrary to popular belief, landing a shot on a squirrel doesn't equate to instant death. There are many cases where the squirrel will run off even with a bullet lodged in their body.
Of course, the squirrel won't be able to survive for long anymore. However, they'll likely be able to scamper off far enough to be out of sight.
If that happens, not only would you have wasted good game, but you'll also scare off nearby squirrels. Looking for a new hunting site's not as easy if you've already three to four hours into the trip. Remember: squirrels like to rest at noon.
To ensure an instant kill, aim for a headshot between the eyes or between the heart and lungs.
Check out this squirrel hunting guide by Rated Red where they share the best tips on how to bag more of these bushy-tailed rodents:
Overall, squirrel hunting is a fairly simple sport perfect for beginners who want to experience outdoor hunting. Compared to other games, taking down squirrels is relatively easy and doesn't require much equipment. You also don't need to undergo specialized training.
However, this isn't to say that you can head out with zero preparation. These bushy-tailed critters have excellent senses, are very quick on their feet, and are generally hard to shoot. If you're not careful, you might not even be able to land a decent shot.
Have you ever gone squirrel hunting before? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!
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