Late Season Squirrel Hunting

Squirrel Hunting

late season squirrel hunt

Late Season Squirrel Hunting

So, deer season is over and you have settled in for the winter. A great time for lazing around watching football and maybe working a little overtime to keep the boss off your back when the turkeys are gobbling and the crappie are moving into shallow brush this spring. The coffee table is littered with Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and outdoor catalogs. Thoughts of the past season still fresh in your mind, you are content, or are you.

 

Get In The Woods To Hunt Squirrel

Squirrel hunting can be a very relaxing endeavor after sitting motionless in a tree waiting for the elusive whitetail. Those long hours on stand should give you an idea of where the squirrels are. You will at least know some good places where acorns are plentiful. Squirrels may be using that area now even if they were not early in the year. This is also a good time to reverse this scenario and use your day a field to locate some great stand locations for next deer season.

A comfortable fanny pack or backpack is essential for late season squirrel hunting. You need enough room for your calls if you use them, a thermos of hot coffee if you drink it and a book if you read. A lunch is important in cold weather. If you plan to hunt all day. Late season usually means very few hunters afield allowing you to wander freely and explore your hunting area while providing you and yours with some great game for the dinner table.

If you do wander deep into the woods, far from the truck, that thermos of coffee, lunch and a good book or magazine will come in handy as the bushytails tend to go inactive sometime during the day. Unless you plan on trekking back to the truck to wait for the evening feed. These items will make your wait much more enjoyable.

hunt with a Henry
Creek beds are great for hunting squirrels. Ken McBroom

Late season usually means the breeding season is over. Squirrels won’t travel far from home as they feed on the stockpile of nuts they have buried. Spot and stalk is usually the best way to harvest these tasty critters during late season squirrel hunting. Squirrels can be hard to see when they’re digging in the leaves for buried nuts. Since the nuts are buried close together, movement is kept to a minimum, adding to the difficulties in spotting them.

You may hear a squirrel rummaging in the leaves and know that its just ahead, but you just can’t see it. A good set of low power binoculars comes in handy for spotting these squirrels. The leaves they are digging in tend to surround them making it even more difficult to see them. A good set of binoculars can help you spot the moving leaves.

Squirrels Are Skittish In The Winter

This time of year squirrels are very skittish, as breeding subsides and hunting pressure continues, sneaking up on a squirrel takes patience. Late season squirrel hunting tactics often doesn’t include calling. The squirrels are just too close to their den and tend to bolt right to their hole at the first sight or sound of danger. There are times, during late season that a call may help when used sparingly.

If you can hear a squirrel digging for nuts but just can’t see it you can hit the distress call very lightly. At this close range it doesn’t take much. The desired effect is a quick jump onto the side of a tree as it glances back. Be ready to shoulder your firearm quickly or it’ll be gone.

A good time to use this calling method is in the evening. It’s better to take a chance on getting the squirrel to present a shot before dark. This beats spending the last waning minutes waiting it out. Call and watch for a shot then move on to the squirrels you can plainly hear digging high on the ridge above. This gives you more daylight to work with.

If cabin fever has you down and the chores around the house are piling up, get out and explore for a new area to hunt. Return to where you spotted those squirrels during deer season. Enjoy your time in the woods. Squirrel hunting is a great way to introduce young people to the world of hunting. it can also be a great way to spend the day with your family.

Squirrels In The Winter : Hunting Tips

Hunting squirrels in the winter is a great way to get into the woods after all the other hunting seasons end. Like so many animals in the woods this time of year squirrels are hunkered down. They will only move a little throughout the day. Early morning and late evening seems to be the best times most of the time but not always. Hunting squirrels in the winter takes a little more patience that other times of the year. Earlier in the season squirrels are feeding up on the fresh mast crop preparing for the rut and the winter. They are busy burying nuts for winter storage. After the rut is over and the mast crop has fallen and cleaned up by deer and buried by squirrels the woods can go silent for much of the day during the winter.

Fortunately for squirrel hunters there are areas that can increase your odds at harvesting a few squirrels during the winter months. Look for squirrels around pine groves. Pine trees offer excellent cover as well as a great place to bury their nuts. Cedar groves is also a great place to find squirrels in the winter. If these areas are near a crop field like beans, corn or their favorite, peanuts then you have probably found a great winter time squirrel hunting location.

During the winter the leaves are gone and on the ground making it loud to walk. The squirrels can hear you coming and they can see you too. Spotting squirrels from afar tends to be the best way to get into range. Covering ground is the way to do it. Squirrels will stay in their dens and nests most of the day during the cold days of winter. By scanning ahead with binoculars and listening for the rustling of leaves while slowly moving ahead, a hunter can locate more squirrels in a day of hunting.

During the winter squirrels are on the ground digging up the acorns and nuts that they buried in the fall. Look on the ground but don’t forget to scan the trees as well. It has been my experience that in the winter squirrels will grab an acorn from the leaves and scurry up to their favorite branch. This branch is usually not that far up so be sure to investigate those lower branches. Oftentimes you will see a squirrel munching on these branches giving you a chance to sneak in for a shot.

Always try to hunt when there is a front moving in. Any front will get the squirrels moving as they prepare for a storm that’s brewing. I would say that ahead of a front is probably the best time to hunt squirrels in the winter. I have seen squirrels out and moving even in high winds during this time so get out there before a front arrives and let that wind hide your movements and sounds as you move through the woods.

During the rut squirrels may travel great distances from their den or nest looking for love. However, when the rut is over squirrels will hang out much closer to home because they have buried their winter stash close to home. They have no reason to travel very far from their den or nest in the winter making it tougher to get a shot. Being close to there home gives squirrels a chance to escape the squirrel hunter quicker and easier than other parts of the squirrel hunting season.

Best Gun For Hunting Squirrel In The Winter

I will say that the scoped .22 rifle is the preferred firearm for hunting winter squirrels. My new favorite squirrel gun is the Henry .410 lever action shotgun and while I love to hunt squirrels with it its limited range makes an already difficult hunt with all of the added obstacles mentioned above even more difficult. So, if your mission is to bag a limit of squirrels I would leave the shotgun behind. There will be a few shotgunners that are going to cry foul on this suggestion, but it’s just a suggestion.

I have a 20 GA shotgun that, with my turkey choke installed, has great range. I suggest the .22 scoped rifle for winter squirrel for its range as well as my love of shooting the rifle. Winter gives me a great opportunity to carry the .22 to the woods. I occasionally carry the little .410 with its 2.5 inch chamber and I get a few squirrels with it in the winter. I will say however that I have to work for the few that I do bag and perhaps the challenge is part of the allure of taking it in the winter.

Squirrel Call In The Winter

I love to use a squirrel call most of the season. I do carry a squirrel call during the winter, but it gets used much less. With the ease of visibility both for the squirrel and the hunter I prefer to spot and stalk. The squirrel call is used, more often than not, to locate squirrels that are hard to see. Because squirrels can see you much easier in the winter I rarely use it for fear that the squirrel will see me before I see it.

The one time that a squirrel call comes in handy in the winter is to get the squirrel to jump onto the side of a tree giving you a shot opportunity. When squirrels are digging in the leaves it can be difficult to get a clean shot. Most of the time a squirrels reaction to a call is to scurry quickly to a tree and jump on the side to have a look around. Be ready for a shot before hitting the call and it can help you get a shot.

Hunting Camouflage In The Winter

Camouflage is a vital part of the winter squirrel hunter’s arsenal. Normally any other time of year about any camouflage will work for hunting squirrels. During the winter however brown and/or grey is your best bet for blending into the squirrels wintertime habitat. Green tends to stick out like a sore thumb in the winter and should be avoided when hunting squirrels in the winter.

Another important part of concealment for winter squirrel hunting is gloves and face covering. While I do wear these in the spring and early fall I’m not as worried about it at these times because there is plenty of cover available then. The weather is often too warm to wear them when hunting at these times. In the winter no problem. Covering your hands and face will help you get closer to squirrels in the winter. Of course these are not absolutely necessary, but I do believe it definitely helps the squirrel hunter get closer to the target undetected.    

 

SQUIRREL AND DUMPLINGS

3 whole squirrels
1 Box of Bisquick
1 large can of chicken stock (optional)

Boil squirrel until meat falls from bone
Remove meat from bones and return meat to pot
Add stock if desired if not retain stock from boiled squirrels
Follow direction on box for drop dumplings

Enjoy!

Squirrel Hunting Gear

Try Out a Turkey Vest for Squirrel Hunting Vest

turkey vest and squirrel hunting
A turkey vest works great for squirrel hunting. Ken McBroom

Over the years I have had many different types of squirrel hunting vests, backpacks and bags. I finally settled on the turkey vest as my go to squirrel hunting vest especially during late season squirrel hunting trips when I usually only hunt morning and evening. Squirrels tend to lay low after the rut and morning and evening works best for late season squirrels.

If you do a lot of squirrel hunting the turkey vest is a great option. With plenty of pockets for squirrel calls, snacks and ammo, the turkey vest offers everything a late season squirrel hunter needs. A turkey vest also comes with a padded seat that folds up and away when on the move. You can fold it down for a comfortable seat when waiting out a denned up squirrel. The pocket in back was created to hold a turkey so it can easily handle a limit of squirrels.

Here are a few squirrel hunting vest for you to check out for your squirrel hunting comfort.

 

 

About Ken McBroom 216 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.