Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Quick Tips for Better Squirrel Hunting
Squirrel hunting, it's highly underrated and too much fun to ignore. Whenever I mention it to any non-hunter the first thing the first thing they mention is how easy it must be to hunt squirrels. Every time I hear this I can't help but giggle because their only opinion of squirrels and squirrel behavior comes from their views of the local squirrel digging through their trash or raiding the bird feeder.
Well if your idea of squirrels are the black and gold semi-tame trash bandits you see everyday in your neighborhood you are sadly mistaken of what truly wild squirrels are like. First of all, squirrels that live in the woods are far more shy of people especially since they rarely see an actual person intruding on their woods. On the occasions that they do see people they see us just like any other predator. When they see a predator they run for the safety of their trees and clam up quick. A few squirrels that were just barking and chasing each other around will disappear just as fast as you can snap a twig with your big clumsy boots. However there are some things that will help you bag a few more bushy tails this small game season.
Sometimes the only way you'll locate the nefarious bushy tail is when they drop something from the trees. So listen for falling branches and acorns. While a squirrel may not make a sound when they've spotted you once they think they've out foxed you or that you've moved on they'll go back to feeding, albeit quietly. So listen up for falling twigs and nuts.
SHH! Be quiet
Think of squirrel hunting kind of like mini-deer hunting. You can either sit and wait for them to move or you can do some stalking on the little guys. Either way you have to be quiet especially if you're doing some calling and stalking. One of the things I've done to aid me in my stalks is to ad some felt to my rubber boots to muffle the sounds of twigs underfoot. Just because they're squirrels doesn't mean they're not smart enough to avoid predators and whether you like it or not you're a predator.
Don't look for squirrels
Early season can have you looking in trees loaded with leaves for squirrels that can use a large oak leaf as a hiding spot. So one of the things I've learned is to don't look so hard for an actual squirrel but look for the moving branches that give away their movements. That doesn't mean not look for actual squirrels it just means you have to be keyed in to the signs especially in early season when they are much harder to spot.
One of the things I've found fun and helpful when out bagging bushies is to call for them. A couple of barks on a squirrel call will have squirrels barking back at you from all over the woods. It's pretty cool especially if you have young hunters with you. Have them start yipping away and they'll be excited from that forward. Also if you don't know what to do when you start calling take some time and listen to what the squirrels in your neighborhood are saying and mimic them. But most all have fun with it.
Improve your odds with a PODS
Depending on your weapon of choice squirrel hunting is all about precision shooting. So make sure you practice a lot before season starts. Also to make it easier to hit a target as small as a squirrels head make sure you pack a bipod or monopod to get a solid rest. This way once you've silently moved into position you won't have to waste time trying to settle the natural movement of your body so much to clear a good shot. Remember a squirrel's head is not too much larger than a couple of quarters so you don't have much room for error so practice and bring a POD with you.
Look beyond your target
No matter what weapon you use to take your game you always have to think SAFETY FIRST. This is just as true with squirrel hunting a .22 or .17 bullet can do just as much damage as a .45. Make sure you're when you shooting at brush running squirrels be on the look out for hunters orange or other unwanted targets. Also when you're aiming up in the air or on the ground at your target make sure you have a backstop. If your aiming at a squirrel sunning itself and there is nothing but open air behind it, wait until you have a backstop. After all bullets, buckshot and arrows are subject to gravity and must come down somewhere.
Hopefully I'll see you outdoors soon