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Whether you hunt squirrels to hone your skills for larger game, or enjoy the unpredictability and thrill of squirrel hunting, bagging these small game animals is an excellent way to refine your woodcraft to make you a better hunter.
Squirrels are masters of evasion and hunting them requires in-depth knowledge of habitats and behaviors and several crucial pieces of squirrel hunting gear.
Squirrel Behaviors, Habitats, and Activity
Squirrels are extremely territorial and vocal mammals. They most commonly mark their territory with tail-waving presentations and urine. They also often send warning calls by barking to both animal and human intruders. The majority of squirrel populations live in groups and colonies. However, gray squirrels are solitary mammals and prefer to live and hunt alone.
They typically survive in mature or almost mature forests. They thrive in these environments due to the abundance of food and habitat space. The most common areas squirrels can be found in are hickory, oak, walnut, elm, pecan, mulberry, and maple trees. Essentially, they are attracted to areas that have at least 50-80 shelter and nut trees.
Squirrels, especially gray ones, are considered pests. This is because they are destructive to nature, stripping away bark from trees, disturbing birds' nests, and having a large impact on songbirds. This damaging behavior is why culling and hunting squirrels has been deemed necessary and is justified.
Why Should You Take Hunting Seriously?
For centuries, hunting has played an essential role in the population control of wildlife. It reduces the number of species to meet population objectives and guidelines and provides the funding for the conservation of wildlife and their habitats.
Being aware of the benefits of hunting ensures hunters take the sport seriously. If the number of hunters decline or hunters aren’t educated in the sport, it could lead to a collapse in the management of wildlife survival. The controlled hunting would decline, and land would be converted for urban settlements and agriculture. This change in the landscape would cause the destruction of habitats, causing populations to fall and inevitably go extinct.
Essential Squirrel Hunting Checklist
Before heading out on your squirrel hunting session, ensure you have checked off the checklist listed below. Having the correct squirrel hunting gear in place will allow you to head out and perform the sport safely, confidently, and effectively.
Hunting License and Tags
Hunting licenses and tags are imperative if you want to begin hunting any animal. This is because, in many states, it is a legal requirement to hold a hunting license. Be aware that holding one license does not cover all states, and you will need to obtain a different one if you cross states to hunt squirrels.
It’s also imperative you comply with each state’s fish and game department requirements, as they can differ from area to area. You can find out the legal licensing requirements of your state by visiting the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and selecting the state you are going to hunt in.
You can easily obtain a hunting license online. Or, if you would prefer a physical license, they can be purchased at any license agent or retail outlets that provide hunting and fishing equipment.
If you are a beginner and do not qualify for a full hunting license, you can request an apprentice license. These licenses are available to anyone who is yet to earn their hunter safety certificate.
Investing in camouflage attire allows you to conceal yourself from squirrels, giving you a better chance of success. Squirrels are much more likely to spot a hunter dressed in bright, bold colors, allowing them to divert their path to avoid you. A head-to-toe camouflage outfit allows you to blend in with the environment. When choosing your camo gear, be sure to match the terrain you are hunting in.
You should also invest in a camouflage squirrel vest. These vests are handy when hunting, as they have pockets to carry flashlights for when hunting in the dark and binoculars for scouting out squirrels that are further in the distance. They also allow you to keep game bags secure, keeping the meat of your fresh catch out of reach of animals and insects.
Rifles and Guns
Rifles and guns are the most commonly used weapons in squirrel hunting. Many people avoid bows due to the immaculate precision they require. There are three types of guns and rifles that squirrel hunters most often use, including:
- Shotgun: Shotguns are perfect for squirrel hunting because you don’t need to have a completely accurate shot to hit one. This means you can always guarantee a catch if you know how to use one right. When shooting with a shotgun, you need to aim from a close range. A .410 gauge range shotgun is the perfect type, as these guns don’t produce as many pellets as other models.
- Air Rifles: Many squirrel hunters opt for air rifles due to them being quieter than shotguns, their precision, and their ability to reload quickly. If you’re planning on a long hunt in the woods, these rifles are a great choice. The most common type of air rifles hunters use are .177 and .22 caliber.
- Rimfire Rifles: These rifles offer great long-distance shooting. This means you can take a precisely aimed shot from a location where squirrels will not notice you. These rifles also allow you to make quick repeat shots.
As well as these three options, there are other guns that are great for hunting squirrels. From kids’ and beginner’s options to more advanced types, there are many choices available.
See Related Article: Perfect Guns for Squirrel Hunting
Become a Successful Squirrel Hunter
Whether you’re a beginner squirrel hunter or you’ve been hunting for years, implementing this checklist allows you to progress with your skills and technique.
Take note of the terrain you are hunting in, and adapt your technique and attire accordingly. For example, if you are shooting from a long range, opt for a rimfire rifle. Or, if you are heading out into the lush forests for a whole day of hunting, try out an air rifle. Adapting to your environment is one of the best things you can do as a hunter.