Squirrel Hunting 101
It's easy to get swept up in hunting the big, "important" game, like deer and turkey, but sometimes we forget about how enjoyable small game hunting can be. One specific species of small game is abundant across the country, and offers hunting opportunities to anyone that is interested. That is the squirrel. Squirrel hunting is anything but romantic. It is thought of as the game of kids and rednecks, a kind of hunting for those who aren't skillful enough for any other kind. People who get caught up in this kind of sentiment are missing out on one of the great hunting joys available in the United States.
There are two primary species of squirrels available to hunters in the U.S. They are the grey squirrel and the Red or Fox squirrel. The gray squirrel is smaller, and tends to have very tender, delicious meat. The red squirrel is larger, and offers more meat, but it tends to be tougher and more gamey. Both species of squirrel prefer to live in forests where oak trees predominate, as acorns are their primary food source.
You do not need specialized equipment to go after squirrels. I have had success squirrel hunting with everything from a high powered air rifle, to a .22, to a 12 gauge Shotgun. That said, a .22 long rifle, or a shotgun in 12 or 20 gauge is the best match for the job. If you choose to hunt with a shotgun, a tight pattern shot like a #6 is preferable, because relatively long shots are necessary from time to time. A modified or full choke works best for squirrel hunters. If you are hunting in a thick, heavily wooded area, a shotgun is probably your best bet. If you anticipate some long shots of 35 yards or more, a .22 rifle, preferably with a scope, will be your best option.
Usually, the best way to target squirrels is to find a grove of oak trees, sit under a tree, and remain there quietly, and wait for a squirrel to come within range. This is probably the easiest and most effective method the majority of the time. But if the squirrels are not moving around much, sometimes it is necessary to find them instead of waiting for them to come to you. In this case, walk as quietly as you can from tree to tree, and be ready to take a quick shot. In this case, your best chance is to try to tree a squirrel.
The best part about squirrel hunting is that you can find them almost anywhere. Any little tract of woods that is either public or you can get permission to hunt will probably provide good squirrel hunting. Obviously, the more predominate oak trees are in your area, the better the squirrel hunting is likely to be. But when we have hunted in mountainous areas where evergreens are the primary trees, squirrels can adapt and feed on pine cones and the like. Just be aware that squirrels that feed on this diet often have a very strong taste.
After your squirrel is cleaned properly, you will want to cook it. Squirrels can taste excellent if they are properly prepared. Visit our Family Outdoors Recipe page here to learn some scrumptious squirrel Recipes. (LINK to Recipes)
Squirrel hunting can be a very enjoyable past-time. Even though it is not the most glorious type of hunting, it is very accessible,