Hunters experienced great success early in the season.
Kenneth O’Connor, Jr. of Ville Platte is excited about his family’s success in hunting squirrels so far this season.
“It’s been a really good year,” said O’Connor, 38. “The flagpole we found on public land was abundant this year, and the squirrels were everywhere.”
O’Connor and his sons Nicholas, 13, and Taylor, 11, hunted earlier in the season at the Richard K. Yancey Wildlife Management Area in Concordia Parish.
On October 13, each member of the trio managed to get a squirrel cap, a combination of southern grays along with the lagniappe of some Delta fox squirrels.
“We were looking for a nice hardwood bottom crossing a couple of swamps,” O’Connor said. “The squirrels were active and feeding, and each of us had a limit.”
On November 2, O’Connor returned to WMA, this time with his 15-year-old nephew, Kaeydon O’Connor, and Nicholas.
“We had another great hunt, only four squirrels under the three hunter limit,” he said. “On this hunt, the rut had started in the area and the squirrels were chasing as well as feeding. It was a great experience for us out there.”
O’Connor and members of his family have been hunting squirrels on public land for 23 years. He lavishes high praise on the public lands of Louisiana for the number of squirrels; he likes to hunt Richard K. Yancey and Dewey Wills WMAs in the LaSalle, Catahoula and Rapides districts.
“With the amount of (acorn production) we saw on Richard K. Yancey this year, we should even have another great year for the 2020-21 hunting season,” he said. “That’s because this year’s large mast production indicates there will be a lot of squirrels to come next year.”
In mid-November, the O’Connors estimated an early harvest of just over 100 squirrels.
Some results of the WMA
Cody Cedotal, small game study leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, had a very positive report on the state’s squirrel season so far.
“The results of the squirrel season have been pretty decent this year,” Cedotal said. “It’s actually been pretty good, despite the fact that some of the best public land for squirrel hunting has added stress from a long period of flooding earlier this year.
“Long duration flooding causes stress on mast trees and can cause mast failure,” he said. “Some of the oak species are just not tolerant to flooding, but we came out better than expected, with no widespread severe losses.”
Cedotal had some early results of hunter success on October 5, opening day on public lands in central Louisiana.
“On October 5 at the Richard K. Yancey WMA, bag checks recorded that 286 hunters captured an estimated 878 squirrels for approximately three squirrels per hunter effort,” he said.
Opening day results from the Sherburne WMA and adjacent Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge in the Pointe Coupee, Iberville and St. Martin districts charged 184 hunters scored 552 squirrels for an estimated three squirrels per hunter.
“Again, these results are very good so far, and we will have more results from directed hunts in other WMAs later in the season,” Cedotal said.
As for the mating period for Louisiana squirrels, Cedotal said the state’s gray and fox squirrels breed twice a year, and the times vary. There are no consistent dates for squirrel breeding in Louisiana.
end of season tips
O’Connor will take a break from squirrel hunting in November for deer season, and the family will resume squirrel hunting later in December and January.
“We hunt very differently later in the season, as most of the leaves, upper foliage and acorns will be on the ground,” he said.
“We will start using .22 rifles instead of shotguns in December and January,” O’Connor said. “By then, all the top foliage will be gone and we’ll be able to do a few select shots of squirrels without the chance of them wandering off leaves and stems.
“The squirrels will also be more active on the ground finding acorns and storing them in places.”
O’Connor and his family will also adopt a more patient hunting style; they will find a good place to eat, they will sit down and be still and quiet.
“We will not move or walk like we did at the beginning of the season,” he said. “With the tops of the trees bare, those squirrels will be much better able to detect you and any movement.”
After shooting a couple of squirrels in one area, they will move to find another feeding area and sit for a while again.
“We do this for quite a while during the day, which usually results in a good number of squirrels, although not as many as earlier in the season,” said O’Connor, who thinks hunters should camouflage a bit more for cover. their heads and faces, as well as their bodies, due to the keen eyesight of Louisiana bushytails.
Squirrel hunting season runs through February 29, 2020. Daily bag limit is 8 squirrels, with a possession limit of 24. See 2019-20 Louisiana Hunting Regulations brochure for dates specific to the season at the Louisiana WMAs.
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