I used to really enjoy squirrel hunting, and it’s a great way to use the woods for survival. In many areas across the country, squirrels are numerous and can be found pretty easily. Before you go trekking off in the woods in search of squirrels, you might want to do a little scouting first to find out where the furry critters normally feed.
How to find the squirrel “restaurants”
You’ll find a stroll through the autumn woods relaxing and enjoyable. Before squirrel season opens, you can discover where they like to feed. You might want to do this in the middle of the day, when squirrels are usually less active. That way, you won’t have to worry about scaring them away.
First of all, you have to find an area that has something that squirrels eat. In my neck of the woods, that’s usually acorns or pine nuts. Look to the forest floor for evidence that squirrels have been feeding. When undisturbed, squirrels will usually consume any food they find on the spot. As they eat, they’ll drop bits of nut shell if they’re feeding on acorns. If they’re eating pine nuts, you’ll often find chewed-up pine cones on the forest floor.
When to hunt for squirrels
I’ve found that squirrels are most actively feeding in the early morning and in the late afternoon. These are also great times for squirrel hunting because you can use the long rays of the sun to your advantage, especially if the trees haven’t yet shed their leaves.
Find a spot
Once you know where squirrels frequent, walk to the spot with your gun and find a comfortable spot. I like the sit-and-wait technique for squirrel hunting. This usually involves a tree stump or a felled tree trunk. Face the direction of the sun. This will help you see the outline of the squirrel, even if a lot of leaves are present.
Get comfortable, with your gun ready, and watch for any movement. Use your ears, too. Listen for rustling leaves, nut shells or pine mast hitting the forest floor, and squirrel chatter or barks.
Shooting the squirrels
What gun is best for squirrel hunting? I like to use a .22 rifle without a scope because it’s a lot more challenging. If you’re hunting for survival purposes, however, you probably aren’t much interested in a challenge. You want to put food on the table! In that case, use a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with #5 shot or larger. You don’t want to use anything smaller. Squirrels are small, but they’re harder to kill than you think, and you don’t want to leave a wounded animal to suffer needlessly.
When shooting a squirrel, aim for the head or upper body, near the shoulder. That’s where the vital organs are located. If you made a good shot and the squirrel falls, go fetch it immediately. If it’s not dead, kill it. A quick blow to the head with a large stick will do the trick. Place the dead squirrel in a plastic bag or in your hunting pouch. Return to your seat, be still, and wait for the next squirrel to be spotted!