Why I Love to Squirrel Hunt

Whenever I run into other hunters, and we start chewing the fat about hunting, I always get questions about why squirrel hunting is my favorite choice over other types of game. So I thought I’d put a few of those thoughts down on paper. Please keep in mind, these are just my opinions and I’m only trying to provide some insight as to why I love squirrel hunting.

For starters, it’s important to clarify that I don’t dislike any other type of hunting or other types of game. I also hunt deer (bow and rifle) a few times a year, and have been known to hunt the occasional dove, and rabbit. Heck, I’ve been to the fine state of Texas once to hunt some big bucks there, and I’ve got one ok head mounted on the wall. However, given the choice, I truly enjoy hunting squirrel over most other types of game.

Doe with the bow

Here’s my take on why:

#1 – While I like hunting other game animals as well, squirrels are plentiful and I have an excellent chance of seeing at least one when I hit the woods. It’s not that I’m not a patient hunter, but I’ve had a few deer seasons from my youth where I spent a whole bunch of time in a stand to not even see a shootable deer. For me, I simply prefer chasing squirrels as the odds are usually pretty high that I’ll at least see something when I go out, and I'll have an opportunity to shoot.

Squirrel Hunting with Friends 2

#2 – The Road Less Traveled – Let's face it, not that many kids get there start in the woods chasing squirrels anymore. Many times now, they are either going after deer or turkey as there introduction to hunting. I'm so glad I was started with squirrel hunting. It teaches you everything you need to know for hunting the larger game species. From everything I’ve read over the years and from my own personal observations, there simply aren’t that many hunters (at least in my area) who go after squirrels. The competition to find land to squirrel hunt on is much, much less than the competition that you’ll find when trying to find or locate deer hunting land. Brad, who is one of my regular hunting buddy’s, lives in a different county in NC compared to me, and he has easier access to public hunting land (called Game Lands here in NC). He’s got story after story about hardly ever seeing another squirrel hunter on NC Game Lands during squirrel season, but come deer season in his county, he won’t go near the Game Lands due to the sheer number of hunters out there pursuing deer. He’s seen situations on the Game Lands where 5 different hunters have tree stands up on a spot of land that is under an acre in size. That will really make you appreciate access to private property.

Squirrel Hunting with Friends

#3 - The Challenge – Before anyone chimes in on the “challenge” of squirrel hunting, let me explain. I prefer to hunt squirrels with a .22 and I do my absolute best to only take head shots (or bean shots as my friend Mike calls them). Squirrels in there environment are actually a challenging animal to pursue. It's not like we're shooting them off of the bird feeder in some lavish neighborhood, where they are close to tame. In there habitat they are truly a challenge. When you think about the actual size of a squirrel’s head, it’s really not that big, about the size of a plum. Now picture that with a 50 yard shot, and it’s not that easy anymore. It requires an accurate rifle with decent glass (and my hats off to you folks who only use iron sights on a 22 when you hunt squirrel as that’s really impressive), a steady hand, and some decent hunting skill. Again, I consider it a challenge and enjoy taking that challenge.

Squirrel Hunting with Friends-Family

#4 - Friends/Family - You can make so many memories and introduce people into the heritage of hunting through squirrel hunting.  I enjoy going solo, but it's more enjoyable to spend that time with a friend or a family member.  With squirrels it sometimes doesn't matter if you make a little noise or talk during the hunt.  More than one set of eyes can be beneficial in the woods.  It's a great time to give encouragement on a great shot, or reassure "someone"  that they shoot better than that, and the rifle must be off (I was victim to this, this past season).  Having that extra person can also help you obtain more squirrels on the hunt.  Squirrels love to counteract your movement on the ground, up in the tree.  With that second or third person, the squirrel has a much harder time with that.  I say enjoy your time afield and take plenty of pictures so you can relive those memories one day.

Squirrel Hunting with Family

Again, these are just my own personal observations and opinions, and, in no way, are they meant to speak poorly of any other type of game species or elevate squirrel hunting to some pedestal. I simply enjoy this type of hunting over anything else.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kenneth McCluskey November 14, 2013 at 1:16 am

I just recently found this journal of yours and I have to say, Good Job! I agree with your reasons for hunting squirrels as they also mirror mine, except that I was in my 20’s before I started hunting the bushytails.
I grew up hunting rabbit, dove and quail in Texas, and after moving here to TN, I was introduced to squirrel hunting….been doing it ever since!
I have always hunted with iron sights, but at almost 44 years of age, it is looking like its about time to find a decent scope for my Glennfield Mod 60….though I do hate messing withe the feel and balance…..but, if you cant see them well, you cant hit them well!
Kudos on sharing your experiences!

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Randy Roberts December 20, 2013 at 10:31 pm

For years I thought something was wrong with me because I like squirrel hunting so much! When I’m finished bow/rifle hunting the deer, I get my woods back for relaxing squirrel hunting time.
Really enjoy your site. Lets keep bring the kids, and now my grandkids to the woods.

Regards

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Jim Cottrell April 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Great site and good info. I hunt and fish here in New England, but have moved back to squirrels for a lot of the same reasons as you. I love to use nice rifles and scopes (CZ ) and the satisfaction from making a shot is much greater than big game I think. I like to combine a nice fall day, with squirrel and flyfishing for trout.

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Nate June 1, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Thanks for stopping by. Good equipment certainly makes the hunt that much more special. I get the same rush when taking a squirrel that I do when taking a deer. You get plenty more chances with squirrels, though. It will sharpen your skills both as a hunter and a marksmen.

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Geoffrey Tucker April 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Finally! A squirrel hunting website that’s just an avenue to peddle squirrel dogs. I only hunt squirrels here in Alabama where I live. I’m a fanatic. Best hunting there is. Thanks and keep up the site! Some if us love it!

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Nate June 1, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I appreciate the enthusiasm. There aren’t many things better than chasing some bushytails!

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Eric July 2, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Great site!
Like almost everyone else I started with my Dad and a .410 .
Hunted with him until life got in the way.
Anyway I have recently got back into squirrel hunting with a .25 Pcp air rifle and have never been more productive with any other gun, so you are correct that there is no perfect gun for all!
Good luck!

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Michael August 25, 2014 at 10:52 pm

I grew up in George County Mississippi. During that time the most common sign around was the yellow Fish and Game notice that read, ” This Area Closed to Deer and Turkey Hunting “. I didn’t see a deer in our County until I was 19 years old. Today they eat the flowers out of peoples yards. If you hunted you Squirrel hunted or bird hunted, quail and dove.

Today I hunt Squirrels. I shoot deer and hogs and sometimes dove, but I HUNT Squirrels. My first Squirrel gun was an H&R 20 gauge. I was raised by my grandmother so an uncle gave me almost five minutes of instruction before turning me loose with a box of shells. I guess I taught myself to hunt. I talked friends at school and church and listened to anyone that would talk to me about hunting anything. Somewhere along the line someone said in the most condescending tone imaginable, ” You shoot squirrels with a shotgun??!! “. That next season I started using my Papaw’s Remington 513. The next summer I earned the $49.95 for a Winchester 190 at the Western Auto in Lucedale.

That Winchester taught me about scopes and the need to sight them in. Fast forward six years and I bought a used Marlin 39 from a pawn shop. The Marlin and a Weaver V22 taught me about accuracy. I was hooked. I was riding that fast train to tiny groups. I found the ammo it shot most consistently. I found how to hold it to get the best groups. I shot a bunch of squirrels.

In 1982 I bought a Kimber of Oregon model 82 topped with a Leupold Rimfire Special. I thought I had found the ultimate Squirrel Rifle. After a few years I started looking for more challenge. I tried handguns, muzzleloaders, air rifles and even a bow.

In 2005 we lost our house to Hurricane Katrina. I didn’t hunt from the 2004 season until February of 2008 when buddy invited me to tag along with him and his son. That hunt turned the tide. I was back!

Two years ago I had Clark Custom Guns build me a Squirrel rifle on a Ruger 77/22 stainless. It makes little bitty holes with SK Standard Plus and even smaller ones with Lapua. It is light and carries well which is good for an old fat man. I shoot suppressed so target velocity rounds are my choice. Quiet, easy to carry, accurate to the extreme…what else could I ask for?

I have hunted Squirrels in MS, AL, LA, AR, TN and plan to try more states. I like reading about and talking to other Squirrel hunters. I like this blog. nate has a good thing going here. I look forward to reading this season’s reports.

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Jeff September 9, 2014 at 6:53 am

Thanks for the blog and info- excited to get back into squirrel hunting as I now have an 8 yr old who is new to hunting. I wanted to start him off just like my dad started me and his dad before him. Some great memories were shared in those woods and I am looking to create more with my 2 sons.

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Tom Shaw May 19, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Squirrel hunting is my religion. I found your site by google search. Started hunting squirrels when I was 11 years old. Took my big brothers 16 gauge pump { ‘monkey wards’ model} and three of his shells. That was a time when boys knew exactly how many shells they had at any one time. Saw one sitting on a tree limb, and the rest is just long long memories with friends and days alone in the squirrel woods. I’ll be back to your site, just as i’ll go back to the squirrel woods. One thing I cant find is your recipes you mention on your home page.How do I get there? Thank you, am always looking and thinking about hunting season.

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Nate May 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm

The recipe section is something I need to give more time too. In all my years on the journal I’m mostly stuck to the hunting stories and the gear. My favorite way to prepare squirrel is in a brunswick stew.

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Tom Shaw May 21, 2016 at 5:17 pm

thank you Nate. i am in carroll county. northwest Illinois. our season starts August 1 ends February 15 the next year. the limit here is 5. i use a single shot 20 gauge break open. my favorite way to prepare squirrel is brown them in a cast iron fry pan till they look like they are done, but you know its not, preheated oven,300 degrees, put the lid on the fry pan and into the oven. add some water but not much before putting lid on add any thing else like your own blend of spices.cook at least 45 minutes to an hour ten minutes. make gravy with pan drippings serve either potatoes or bisquits, what have you.. now i will go on and enjoy the rest of your site. i know the time and effort you put into it, it is appreciated by many people. you just need to be mentioned for it. Good Luck in any and all other endeavers and adventures.

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dan June 24, 2016 at 3:24 am

Man, it’s nice to read the stories of some fellow bushy tail chasers. I live in Montana, squirrel are considered non game here that means you can hunt them year round, no bag limit or weapon restriction. Welcome to heaven! I go out for them all year, and if I get bored on a bear/deer/elk hunt…I’m squirrelin. Nice to hear folks talking about the skill it takes to take one. I hunt with a bow in season, and a crossbow the rest of the year. Its a challenge for sure. And what a great hunt in and of itself. You can go a week without seeing an elk, you’d be hard pressed to go a morning without hearing a squirrel. My hunting buddies laugh at me for squirrel hunting. But guess who they come to come big game season? ” hey dan, where are the deer at this year?” and I know, because I’ve been out there all year, chasing bushytails and loving it.

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Nate June 27, 2016 at 11:04 am

I’ve never been any further east than Texas so I can’t imagine what the landscape is like hunting squirrels in Montana. You are absolutely right about having recon on other game species while chasing squirrels, and just about everything you need to know about taking that larger animal you can learn from chasing squirrels. Glad you stopped by to share your story.

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Clifford S. Ruff August 24, 2017 at 12:23 am

Nate, your reasons are spot on. My (New York State) season opens on September 1st. Can’t wait. No more waiting for the weekends to hunt, I retired in March, and squirrel hunting is what I’ll be doing. Thanks for sharing your insight.

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Nate August 24, 2017 at 10:56 am

I look forward to that day of financial independence when I can hit the squirrel woods whenever I please. I’ve got just under 16 years to go. Make sure to check back in and let us know how season is going. I appreciate you dropping by to comment and reading some of my writing.

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