Spring Squirrel Hunting Tips

Photo from Alamy

Just because winter is over and turkey season takes center stage for spring doesn’t mean small game hunters are done for the year. At least nine states offer spring squirrel hunting seasons in May and June, presenting hunters with solid opportunities to get deep into the woods before summer reaches its peak.

Stations exist in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, East Texas, Virginia, and Kansas. Some are long, like in Arkansas, where it runs from mid-May to late February. Others are short, like in Virginia where it’s just a couple of weeks in June.

avoid the heat
It hunts about three hours after sunrise and a couple of hours before sunset. The squirrels may be out in the middle of the day, but if the temperatures are rising, it won’t be comfortable for you. If you hunt with dogs, be sure to find water or bring them a jug. And if you find yourself in the woods in the afternoon, look for squirrels in the dense foliage and on the shady sides of older trees.

look high and low
Squirrels will dig through the leaf litter for nuts that were missed last fall, so don’t go through areas with tall trees: oak, beech, hickory. Fallen leaves from last fall are still dry and crisp, so keep your ears open for the sound of squirrels crawling in the trash. But the squirrels will be high up in the trees, feeding on young shoots. Look on the highest and most agile branches.

point and stem
A good squirrel dog is a lot of fun, and an extra set of eyes never hurts. But if you don’t have feist or cur, become a squirrel ninja. Be stealthy and patient. Listen for squirrels barking or chattering, and watch for jumps and chases. If a squirrel is watching, stand still. Move when it moves and take the good shot when it shows up. Camouflage with green foliage patterns.

take the right weapon
My rule of thumb is a 12 gauge shotgun in leafy cover and a .22 scoped rifle when the trees are bare. Shotguns cut leaves; the .22 presents more of a challenge, along with the possibility of a longer shot. Plan accordingly, depending on spring leaf cover. I also always carry an 8×42 binocular to scan the treetops and find a squirrel flattened in the V of a branch.