BUSHYTAILS AS A DEER HUNTING WARM UP   Leave a comment

During the late summer steamy mornings in the woods squirrels are frantically storing up nuts for the winter ahead.  I am also there.  It is time to pre‑scout my favorite whitetail country.  Often these tasks will overlap. 

I can always use some practice in scouting and stalking.  Squirrel hunting can help.  It is not that I lack the stalking skills and do not have the patience required for stand hunting.  It is just time to hone those skills before the deer hunting begins in earnest. 

Squirrels, like deer, are very wary creatures.  When they detect the presence of humans, both run or hide.  It is this wariness that must be overcome in hunting either animal.  We need to enter the woods undetected.  Otherwise, I not see nor do I get a shot at either quarry. 

Following a few trips afield I try to remember where the most mast trees are concentrated.  Both squirrels and deer feed heavily on acorns in the fall.  Feeding squirrels are found where there are cuttings or shells.  Stripped corn cobs also indicate the presence of both deer and squirrel. 

Stealth and patience, are required in hunting squirrel hunting and honing on squirrels can pay dividends later during deer season. 

Sneaking into the woods slowly is a real skill.  It is important to work slowly enough to avoid spooking small birds.  Their alarm calls will alert squirrels to the hunter’s presence. 

A good way to begin a hunt is to sit down and wait for normal woods activity to begin.  This usually only takes about 30 minutes.  It allows one to find out just how obtrusive he is in the woods.  I become aware that what was thought to be slow was in fact rather rapid and noisy movement. 

Hunting squirrels requires a lot of stopping and looking.  Each footstep must be deliberate and silent.  Make no sudden moves or noise.  A good aid is the use of binoculars to spot the quarry before it spots mer.  Major companies make small binoculars that are ideal for this type of hunting. 

Full camouflage clothing aids in blending into the surroundings.  Face make‑up or a net will prevent the reflection of the sun off the face.  Such reflections alert both squirrels and deer. 

Sitting is another method of hunting both species.  Find a likely spot, sit down, and wait them out.  Sitting develops patience a vital skill necessary in hunting.  With patience one can wait for the right shot making a more successful hunter.  

A challenge of early fall hunting is the canopy of leaves still on the trees and vegetation on the ground.  Both deer and squirrels make effective use of it.  It conceals their movements.  

Both deer and squirrel feed in a rather random manner in early fall as opposed to the structured patterns that emerge later. 

The common denominator in feeding habits is that both species look down when feeding.  If up in a treestand it provides the opportunity to draw down before the squirrel even knows of the hunter’s presence.  

Squirrel hunting provides the advantage of enjoying the chance to spend one more day in the woods with all the tranquility that involves.  Squirrel hunters can use their day afield to make their deer season more productive and enjoyable.

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