Squirrel hunting is not as popular as it used to be in Texas

For generations, October has been a welcome, if busy, month for hunters seeking recreation in the woods and fields of East Texas.

But the focus of his interest and enthusiasm has undergone a dramatic, ongoing, and transformative shift over the past four decades. Most of those hunters have moved away from the quarry that their ancestors and many of them younger saw as their main game of choice: small game hunting; squirrels, in particular, but also rabbits, to white-tailed deer, a species of big game that commands a growing percentage of the nation’s hunter interest.

This change has seen a large segment of the hunting community abandon or simply omit what has long been the foundational activity on which the region’s hunters built their skills, the craft of wood and cemented connections with the land, its wildlife and its culture and society. history.

TOMPKINS: Five Things You Need to Know About Squirrel Hunting in Texas

Participation in small game hunting, specifically squirrels and rabbits, has plummeted in Texas (and nationally) over the last four decades. The numbers are staggering and reflect a long-term shift in the demographics of hunters in Texas and the nation.

The number of hunters chasing squirrels in Texas in 1981 was estimated at nearly a quarter million, 231,000, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s annual survey of small game that year. Nearly all of those hunters were in East Texas, most in the densely forested, squirrel-rich Pineywoods Ecoregion in the far east of the state, and a smaller number in the adjacent Post Oak Savanna.