When it comes to being king of the treetop canopy, the squirrel has no equal.  He is at home there and uses it to hide his presence from anything that walks below.  Out smarting him is a challenge accepted by thousands of hunter each year.  They meet the challenge with limited success.

Hunting squirrels is an educational experience each fall.  To add to that education, the following tips are offered.

PRACTICE – Being able to hit what you are aiming at is a basic of all hunting.  But, it is vital to squirrel hunting.  When one is shooting at a target the size of a quarter, at distance of 70 feet, the need for accuracy is obvious.  In you practice, shoot at walnuts or something of a similar size.  Be able to shoot off hand as well as with a rest.  If the situation permits, try shooting at targets that are elevated.  But, be sure of what is beyond your target in the interest of safety.

SCOUT – Scouting for squirrels is important.  Squirrels seen during scouting sessions will almost always be present during the season.  The cover and food that attract them will keep them in the area.  Should they leave, either to their being harvested, or just chased out of the area, others will take their place.

Check out ridges and groves of mast trees.  If the trees are on a south facing slope, so much the better.  Squirrels like to lie out in the sun on cooler days.  Look for dens in trees, leaf nests, and lots of nuts (mast).  It helps if a source of water is nearby.  They prefer oak, hickory and beech trees.

Late season squirrels will seek out dens or nests that are east facing.  That is because they tend to rise from a night’s slumber at the crack of dawn.  The warmth of the rising sun is welcomed by the squirrels following a night of cold.

CAMO GEAR – Camouflage clothing is an important factor in squirrel hunting.  Any other colors will set you off from the surroundings and as such spooks any squirrels.  Early in the season, green patterns blend with the leaves.  Later, brown is the color of choice since the leaves will be changing to that color.  A mask helps as it allows the hunter to look up and not have the sun reflect off his face.  Camo gloves also cut down on the chance a squirrel will spot your lily white skin.

DAY PACK – A day pack with some water, soda, snacks and a first aid kit is a good idea.  Don’t forget the insect repellant early in the season.  The mosquitoes can ruin a hunter’s ability to sit still for very long.

WEATHER – Weather affects the activities of squirrels.  The hunter who pays attention to it can often forecast just where the little devils are hiding.  On Windy days they will seek the security of something strong.  They will be on the ground or in large trees.  Squirrels do not like to be thrown around by the wind.  In the trees they will rest on the larger limbs as they tend to move the least.  On calm days, squirrels rest on wide flat limbs.  They will also be found in the very tops of trees feeding on the buds to be found there.  They will also be up their eating bark.

On windy days, the squirrel cannot hear you walking along.  This allows you to approach them long before they have spotted you.

NOISE – Noise unnerves the squirrel.  He will investigate and then hide out.  Being sassy by nature, they just cannot resist responding to anything that sounds like another squirrel.  A hunter who is skillful with a call will often find great success.  The best way is to sneak up on their position and try to remain out of their field of vision.  Use the call a few times and wait for the squirrel to seek you out.  While he is looking for another squirrel, you are drawing a bead on him.

Another way of getting their attention is to carry two stones in your hand and rub them together as you walk along.  It sounds like a squirrel eating nuts and will attract other squirrels.  It also is a way to assure them that nothing is wrong and the squirrel will return to his own eating.

WHICH WAY DID HE GO? – If a squirrel is coming down the trunk of a tree facing you, then he will come toward you once he hits the ground.  If he is on the other side, he will leave the tree going in that direction.  The same is true of left and right descending animals.  Knowing this help the hunter to prepare for a better shot if necessary.

EARLY BIRD… – Yes the early hunter stands a better chance of getting more squirrels.  Squirrels are up and active at the crack of dawn.  The hunter should be in place at least an hour and half before daylight.  The first three hours of the day are the most prolific.

Squirrel hunting is a fun way of starting off the hunting season.  It provides an opportunity to be in the woods for some early deer season scouting.  This challenging little king of the treetops also is great table fair, if you can it one.



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  1. Great write up Don, I couldn’t have done it any better myself! I’ve hunted squirrels for close to 15 years now….and they were the first critter that I ever hunted on my own. I learned to call them with my mouth and hunt them a lot like you would hunt deer. They are fun and good eating! Thanks for bringing back memories!

    Tyler Goodale
  2. Pingback: TIPS FOR HUNTING THE TREETOP KING « Don Gasaway's Blog | Hunting Reviews

  3. Tyler, Thanks for the compliments. I too took a squirrel as my first game animal. A lot of people are missijng the fun and good eating that these little kings of the treetops provide.

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