The early part of squirrel season is generally a hot weather time of the year.  In Illinois, it opens during those lazy hazy days of August.  That brings problems with dehydration and insects as well as finding the quarry in the heavy canopy of leaves.  Sensible planning and discipline can outsmart the bushytailed rascals and maintain some degree of comfort for the hunter.

Bugs are a factor in warm weather hunting.  Off or some other good bug repellant is an important piece of equipment.  A product with a high DEET level is best.  Remember to re-apply it during the day.  Read the instructions on the container.

Hunters spray the tops of their socks and pant legs.  It helps to wear pants with a tight waist.  These three areas are the first to attract ticks.  The back of hands and the neck area follow in the spraying regimen.  One can spray hands and then rub the repellant on the face.  Never spray directly at the face.

It is also a good idea to keep bug repellant away from wood or laminated surfaces.  Some repellant will react chemically with such surfaces.

To avoid dehydration, take along a couple of bottles of water or a canteen.  By the time you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated.  Drink sips of water periodically during the hunt.

Like real estate investment, three important factors of squirrel hunting are location, location, location.  There is not a lot of shooting that done as with upland hunting in general.  Hunters must get close and sit still.  Squirrels are difficult to hit on the ground.  They become very nervous out of their treetop homes and scamper around a lot when on the ground.

Even in the trees, these little rodents are not an easy target.  The availability of canopy cover makes getting a shot difficult.  It is probably not a good idea to attempt a long shot, as the odds of success are low.

Do not move around when the squirrel is looking.  They have great peripheral vision that is 10 times more sensitive than human sight.

Scout woods thoroughly.  Look for sign of feeding and nesting activity.  Cuttings under a hickory or mulberry tree are sign of feeding.  Worn spots on the bark of a tree are another sign of squirrels traveling back and forth across the rough surface.  If there is no sign of activity in a given area, move to another location.

Good locations will have a nearby water source.  Squirrels need drinking areas.  It also helps to stop and listen for the noise these little rascals make as they move about.  Not unlike humans, if the weather is hot, the squirrel will sleep in.  On very hot days, the hunter can just stay home.

Stalking squirrels is not generally productive.  The quarry tends to spot the hunter before a shot is possible.  If one does attempt stalking, do so only on animals that are distracted.

Move sparingly and have a plan for where you are going.  Pick a route into the hunting area that makes as little noise as possible.  Wait for windy conditions.  Do not move when squirrels are alert.

Stop, listen and watch a lot.  If all is done correctly, shooting kind of an anti‑climax.  The best shot is at head or upper body.  This prevents wounding and the loss of an animal into a tree top den.  It is best to wait for better access if a head and upper body shot is not available.  Squirrel calls work will get a bushytail to expose his position.

Visually mark downed squirrels and wait for another to appear.  Getting up and moving to a downed animal exposes the hunter’s position.  It will often destroy an area as a potential source of more animals.

The tranquility of the woods in the fall is a welcome distraction for the busy person who wants to get in a little hunting.  It is a good place to warm up hunting skills long dormant from last fall.



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  1. Pingback: GOING NUTS FOR SQUIRRELS | Don Gasaway's Blog

  2. I appreciate you writing this article, we love the thrills of hunting squirrels and we also like the gift it brings us to the table. Check out our sites, http://www.squirrelcookoff.com and http://www.squirrelsunlimited.com
    You will find all the info you need there.

  3. Harvesting squirrels is most often done with shotguns or .22 rifles. I have enjoyed both methods, however, I added a whole new dimension to my squirrel hunting forays many years ago with the purchase of a Browning BuckMark .22 pistol topped with a Bushnell red dot scope. Knocking a feeding gray squirrel from the top of a 100-foot tall hickory tree is every bit as classy as downing an elk at 400-yards with a 7mm magnum rifle.

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