I really think Nebraska easily claims this title. With so many critters to chase, small game such as rabbits and squirrel have to be the most abundant and least utilized of all. I have to admit, I really enjoy chasing squirrels in the fall. Maybe it is because they keep my attention so well or maybe the challenge. Yes squirrels are a challenge and anyone who has chased after them will agree. Not to mention the same skills you use for squirrel will make you a much better deer or turkey hunter.
August 1 will officially kick off the squirrel season in Nebraska and while the temps may be a bit high for an opening day hunt for me…it won’t be too long until a cool morning or evening will find me in the woods on the chase. If you have not been to the shooting range yet now is the time to practice. We all need to do a bit more target practice whether using a safe backstop on the farm or a shooting range…burn up a few hundred rounds of rim fire ammo and be ready. Successful hunters are ready for any safe shot nature presents and the ones who come home with game to clean are those that have practiced enough to safely take those shots.
Squirrel hunting is a great time to try a new method. If using a rimfire rifle doesn’t light your fire then try using a bow or a handgun…both will put the challenge back into the game for sure. Plus, if you have ever wanted to try big game hunting with a new method, squirrels are a great place to start. You either kill them or miss them with little in between!
Some early season squirrel hunting tips:
1. Bring water and bug spray – that being said, with my ThermaCell, I rarely worry about early season mosquitoes any longer.
2. Everything is green so wear a green camo pattern that hids you well in the woods. Light weight moisture wicking camo is best and will keep you comfortable in warmer temps.
3. Practice shooting from various positions and bring a rest with you to steady your shot.
4. For shotguns, nothing beats a 20 gauge using #6 shot for squirrel. For rim fires, remember hollow points for head shots and solids for heart/lung shots. Hollow points on body shots can really tear up a squirrel. For arrows, the many small game heads can be death on squirrels with little meat damage.
5. Early season is full of vegetation in the woods impairing your long range vision. Make sure that you have a safe backstop to stop each round fired! Make sure you know what lies beyond your target should you…miss.
6. Bring binoculars to spot hard to see squirrels in trees through leaf clutter.
7. bring a small cooler with ice to keep the squirrels cool after harvest. Skin and gut as soon as possible.
8. Don’t forget your 2011 hunting license and habitat stamp and of course…Hunter Education card!
9.Early season is a great time to take a kid. Get them out shooting now in preparation for your next squirrel hunt.
10. During any hunt it is a good idea to wear a blaze orange hat while entering an area and leaving an area.
The Waiting Game
Scout areas for squirrel activity (just about any wooded area in most of northeast NE will have squirrels), focusing on hardwoods joining corn fields. During morning hours or early evening, slip into the woods and take a seat with back against a large tree. Slowly scan the floor and tree tops for movement. Often you will hear them before you see them as they chew away on nuts. I have found many squirrels by watching pieces of acorns falling from a tree or hearing rustling leave on a branch as squirrels search for nuts. During the waiting game, a squirrel bark call or distress call can really get them barking, giving away their location. My last ditch effort, is to use a predator call (rabbit distress) which really can pull in squirrels (curiosity kills). This tactic (my ace in the hole) almost always produces a squirrel before I leave the area.
Another technique while waiting them out is to place a blaze orange jacket on one side of the woods and sit yourself on the other. Squirrels often will come out of den or leaf patches and see the jacket moving in the breeze and hide on the opposite side of the tree in perfect view of the hunter. I know…hardly seems fair but if you have hunted these guys long you won’t cut them much slack! My next blog we will discuss some other squirrel tactics that really work.
Get Em’ Out There