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Today I went squirrel hunting for the fifth time. It was poring rain but nevertheless I saw three squirrels. However, I havn't g

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  • Today I went squirrel hunting for the fifth time. It was poring rain but nevertheless I saw three squirrels. However, I havn't g

    Today I went squirrel hunting for the fifth time. It was poring rain but nevertheless I saw three squirrels. However, I havn't gotten any squirrels after five times hunting. Last year I only got 3 squirrels. What am I doing wrong? I've read many articles on squirrel hunting and I feel that I'm doing everything right. BTW, I usually hunt public land in ohio and occasionally private property in ohio. I use a shotgun for safety reasons. But, What am I doing wrong, when I read about squirrel hunting online it seems everyone always gets at least a squirrel or two every time. How is it that I can be so unseccesful, Anybody have any words of wisdom/advice/resoning for me?

  • #2
    It doesn't matter what species you're after, more often than not, you're not going to come home with anything. That being said, here's what you do

    1) Find a food source and SIT DOWN for 15-20 minutes and LISTEN. More often than not, you will hear a squirrel before you see it. Don't go chasing after them...let them come to you. If you don't hear a squirrel in 15-20 minutes...move. If you do hear or see a squirrel nearby, stay put, be'll likely get a shot eventually.
    2) Don't get discouraged...squirrel populations are often dependent on mast crops and they fluctuate often...some years there'll be more squirrels than you can shake a stick at...other years there will hardly be any at all.
    3) Although squirrels are fairly active all day, the best squirrel activity during the day is in the early morning and early-late evening...if you're hunting mid-afternoon, you're probably not going to see nearly as many as you would hunting them during their prime activity time.

    Hope this advice helps...


    • #3
      Are you seeing squirrels?
      Are you getting shots at them?
      If the answer to the first two is yes, your shooting needs work.
      If you are not seeing them, find the food - nuts, corn, etc and take a stand near that.
      Try some camo and hide yourself some if they are seeing you. You have to be very, very still and quiet or they will spook. If you spook one they will circle to the back side of the tree and bark at you. If that happens, try throwing your hat to the back side and try to get him to circle back to your side.
      If you have a spot where you can catch them on the ground a .22 is better. IMHO I have also used a .22 when they were in the trees but you have to be sure there is a backstop.
      So, get where they are and try these suggestions. Get between their tree and the food. Good luck.


      • #4
        In my experience; Forest squirrel and urban squirrel are vasty different animals. Forest squirrel are always watching for movement and predators, on the ground and in the air. They are very wary,. So you can’t use the squirrel you see in a suburban or local setting as a guide. Their greatest predator is a car, and they are pretty bad at dodging those.

        If you going after forest squirrel only approach is to to post in some trees and remain very still for 20 minutes and wait or sometimes call.. There are a lot of good squirrel calls on the market. Don’t over call. This is a great warm fall day strategy. Bring a day pack, thermos, sandwich and maybe book. Squirrel hunters have been known to fall asleep on a warm fall day. I have. Good times.

        When scouting for a good spot, look for hulls of nuts (acorns) on the highest point on the ground. Generally No hulls, no squirrels. The little rodents like high points (stumps, deadfalls, rocks) to watch for predators as the eat. That is also the best place to get them with a rifle. If you use a .22, don’t shoot in the air unless you are in a heavily forested area. Bullets are dangerous a long ways. Scout for those high points for when they stop to eat. That where you uses a rifle. Go for a head shot.

        If you can’t sit still, one of my favorite early season tricks (about now) is to scout for squirrels playing in oak trees at dawn at say 100 to 150 yards and slow stalk your way in. Look for branches that bounce or sway in the wind different from the others. You don’t have to see them to know they are there. Shoot when you have a target at FULL CHOKE range. using #4 or #5 shot. Your shot has to be heavy enough to carry. If your shots seems closer then go to number 6. I carry a few of both as the forest conditions change as I walk during the day.

        As the top cover of leaves falls, forest squirrels stop less and less. Then they are constantly on the move. They are vulnerable to raptors (ospreys, eagles and hawks) from the air. So once the leaves are down your options may become limited to running shots with a shotgun. I use a modified choke.

        If you see a lot of chipmunks, that is usually good squirrel area. Look for a good mast crop, with good top cover and not too think brush. Too thick a brush will hide a coyote or fox. So the little buggers avoid it if they can. Thats why they eat on high points. To watch for ground predators.

        The colder it gets the more squirrels stay in their den trees. The optimum time later in the season is dawn and dusk, where their gray coloring gives them slight advantage over predators. They may be out only minutes a day.

        Avoid windy days. Squirrel will. They will stay in the den. Multiple days of rain will force them out as soon as it clears. Being smaller they have a faster metabolism. They have to eat. A break in a Fall rain can be your friend. As it gets colder their defense is to stay inside as much as possible, and not burn calories. So once it gets real cold, Dawn and Dusk become your only windows.

        Another favorite trick is to slowly walk along a forested logging road. Preferably one that has some traffic every few minutes. Squirrels are used to movement along the road and may just ignore you, long enough to get a few shots. We have filled our limit more than once with that trick.

        Look for clumps of leaves in hardwoods. Thats a squirrels nest. Don’t shoot into it, it is illegal and just not right, but watch it. Look for an old maple surrounded by oaks. Maple is softer and easer to make a den in. So they may eat the acorns of an oak but live in maples. Avoid pines. I have no idea why, but Grey squirrels avoid pines. Red squirrels have no issue with pines. As in most animals. The Mast crop of a white oak is preferred to red, beech is preferred to oak and hickory and walnut as available.

        Finally Squirrels migrate. No food, they move. If the mast crop was good last year, does not mean it will be good this year and the tree rats will call that area home, may not be there.

        Hope this bit of experience (some may not be true, just what I believe I learned), helps.


        • #5
          Bioguy gave you the most important info first off. You can hear them in leaves, you can sometimes hear them run on bark and, when they're cutting nuts, you can hear them chewing the little pieces off (sounds like rubbing the ribbed edges of two quarters together) and falling to the forest floor (sounds like raindrops, almost).

          Sit still and listen for that. If you're not hearing any after 20 or so minutes, move, as he said. Also, while usually waiting will get you a shot, sometimes you're in earshot of squirrels, but not on the routes they're using heavily. Then, quietly move into range of a spot that will give you a good shot, sit down and be still and quiet.

          Tell us a little more about how your trips are going:

          1. What kind of cover are you hunting? What kind of trees are there?

          2. When are you going?

          3. What are you doing while you're hunting?

          4. Are you seeing squirrels and can't get close enough to shoot? Or are you not seeing them?


          • #6
            Thank you all for the thorough and informative answers.

            Teodora and others: I hunt a variety of woodlands, on my grandparents 30 acres there is a really open forest with very tall trees. I have found many hickory and beech cuttings. Last year I got 2 red squirrels and a fox squirrel there although I have seen many squirrels here including two black squirrels. On public land I've hunted open woods and dense woods with smaller shorter trees closer together with a lot of ground cover. I haven't really found any cuttings on public land although I have seen some squirrels there. I usually hunt noon to mid afternoon, my dad doesn't want to wake up early to hunt squirrel. I hunt by slowly walking through the woods and waiting whenever I see/hear a squirrel. I haven't been able to find any nut cuttings so this has been my strategy. I also use a squirrel call but I don't know if it helps. I mostly see fox squirrels and sometimes red squirrels. I've also seen three black squirrels and a gray squirrel. MY two biggest problems have been actually seeing squirrels and if I do see them, getting close enough to shoot them. Here are several situations that I've been in.

            1. 60 yards away I see a gray squirrel on a tree. I sneak in to about 25 yards from the tree and I lose sight of him. It starts to rain moderately as I wait by the tree and never see him for the rest of the hunt.- mid afternoon

            2. It's raining heavily and I'm sitting under a tree waiting for the rain to slack off. My gun is leaning on the tree. I look to my right and a black squirrel is on a tree. I pick up my gun as he bolts across the forest floor about 2o yards away through thick brush. I don't shoot because of the thick brush.-mid afternoon

            3. About 70 yards away I see squirrel walk across a log on the forest floor. I walk to within 20 yards of the log and wait. Nothing happens. It's raining lightly.- mid afternoon

            4. A squirrel runs across a log far away. A few minutes later I see that fox squirrel digging about 20 yards away. I move for a clear shot and scare it away. I was about to shoot but I was too slow. Not raining.- noon

            5. About 45 yards away I see a fox squirrel sitting on a log eating a nut. It finishes and starts walking away down a hill and I lose sight of it. 10 minutes later I walk to the hill and nothing is around. It's late evening and I go home.

            Maybe you guys could help to tell me what I should have done in these situations. Should I start to use a .22, or stick with the shotgun? would it be best if I used a .22 and my dad used a shotgun? One last thing- I wear hunter orange for safety.


            • #7
              I always hunt for squirrel with a .22 or a 22.250 its a little more difficult to hit a moving target but it will help you get kills at longer distances.

              I think the biggest problem I can see is that your moving. When squirrel hunting or any hunting for that matter, it is important to keep the habitat as normal as possible. The squirrels will know your their and if they don't their friends the birds will tell them.

              Walk to a food sources sit for 15 - 30 minutes and then move on to another.


              • #8
                You are getting a lot of good advise here and you just need to put it into action. One thing you might want to check out is This is a place for squirrel hunters and does the same thing as ducks unlimited but for squirrels.

                Good luck to you and let us know how it goes.


                • #9
                  Stop moving!


                  • #10
                    Try sitting down instead of slow walking. Make sure you sit yourself by a large food source such as oak or beech trees or any other tree that produces nuts. Also, make sure you have a clear shot at the food source. These two tips should help you become a better squirrel hunter and have more success.


                    • #11
                      Go out when you see them moving around your home. I used to hunt when lots were moving in town because conditions were good in the woods as well. Or go deer hunting, that brings them out in hoards around me. Good luck a lot of hunting is being unsuccessful and enjoying the experience. Being older if I could hunt with my dad again (he's too old now) it wouldn't matter if we saw anything at all. Good luck!


                      • #12
                        Have you tried to find a spot and sit and wait them out? Try rubbing the bottom of trees with a stick,they'll think your climbing their tree. Good luck.


                        • #13
                          Patients is a big part of squirrel hunting. As stated many times above, find a spot near food sources and sit down and don't move. They said 20 minutes but I usually sit longer. If you have spooked them when walking in it will take them longer than 20 min. to get moving again. I usually hunt squirrels with a .22 but have many times with a shotgun. If hunting with a .22 make sure it is dead on! If you can't continuously stack shots at 50 yards in the bullseye of a target don't take it. With a .22 squirrels are best shot in the head and their heads are small. From everything you've said you seem to be in the right areas it just seems like you're a little antsy. Just sit still and wait and they will come to you. The reason deer hunters see so many squirrels is because we sit still for long periods of time.
                          What gauge shotgun are you using? You would be surprised how far you can kill a squirrel with a shotgun.


                          • #14
                            lol! Patience not patients..


                            • #15
                              Thank you all again for the great tips.
                              I hunt with a 12 gauge Remington express with a modified choke and six shot. I was aways told that a shotgun has "clean kill" range of 30 yard. Anyway, Do you think I should get a .22. Is it worth it for the added range.




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