With a long deer season that runs from mid-August until the New Year rolls around, squirrel hunting is an often overlooked opportunity for South Carolina hunters.
It can also be much more challenging than you think. You can’t just go wandering around the woods with a shotgun or .22 rifle and expect to hit a cap. Requires stealth and cunning to stay within range.
Squirrel season begins October 1 at Palmetto State and continues through March 1 with a daily 10-bag limit, so you only have a few more weeks to hone your skills.
“You can probably kill more squirrels in October and November when they’re trying to fatten up for the winter. They’re storing nuts in the ground and they’re much more active. But most deer hunters don’t want to wander around the woods looking for squirrels during deer season,” said Scott Hammond, an accomplished Cottageville deer hunter who enjoys continuing his time in the woods after deer season ends.
“January and February is when I like to hunt squirrels. It’s a great time to go out in the woods and you learn a lot. You can see all the deer tracks that were in the thickets that you couldn’t see during deer season. The leaves are out of the trees so you can see a lot more. Every once in a while you get lucky and find a nice shed of (deer) antlers. And the squirrels are a worthy adversary. They are much more challenging than most people. give them credit for.”
Some squirrel hunters prefer to use shotguns, but Hammond said he uses a .22 rifle. For many years, Hammond hunted with a .22 rifle that belonged to his grandfather, a sentimental choice he abandoned after his girlfriend gave him a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic .22 long rifle equipped with a Leupold scope.
“I hunt squirrels in my usual deer hunting areas. You should look for a hardwood area where acorns fall. The squirrels will bury those acorns in the ground to store them for the winter,” Hammond said. “I usually do better in thicker woods than open places. If you have some oaks that have pretty thick canopy, that’s where I tend to do better. I try to do most of my squirrel hunting by slipping and walking . through the woods. If you think you’re going slow enough, go a little slower.”
He said he usually walks 25 or 30 yards and then stops and looks and listens. He said that he often stands in one spot for 15 minutes to find a squirrel.
“If you can time your hunt right after a rain, the squirrels are very active, or, as happened recently, there were flurries throughout the morning. That makes the woods much quieter to slither around without being heard,” Hammon said. .
He said that sometimes when he sees a squirrel out of his reach, he will crouch down and lower his profile to stalk his prey.
“You don’t have to get down on all fours, but you make your profile more like a deer or a pig, which is natural in the woods, rather than just walking towards them. I think I can get a lot closer that way.” “. ,” he said.
“Squirrel hunting this time of year is a great way to get to know your property. You don’t worry about scaring any of your deer and you can see everything.”
Swamp Fox’s NWTF Banquet
The Swamp Fox Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will hold its 38th annual fundraising banquet and outdoor exhibit on March 5 at the Exhibitor Building at Exchange Park, located off Highway 78 in Ladson. Doors open at 5:00 pm and dinner begins at 6:15 pm Tickets are limited and sold in advance. Contact Wayne Grace Jr. at 843-834-7779 or Karen Whaley at 843-870-3480 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charleston Inshore Fishermen
The 29th Annual Charleston Inshore Anglers “Big Ed” Sheepshead Tournament will be fished on April 30. The captains’ meeting begins at 5:30 pm April 28 at American Legion Post 147, located at 968 Folly Road. The weigh-in will also take place at Booth 147 from 4-5 pm on April 30. The entry fee for the tournament is $40. Contact Kevin Mischke at 843-324-1006; Nick Kvestad at 843-557-2811 or Gene Broderick at 843-224-6826.
Quail Forever Fundraiser
The Mount Pleasant chapter of Quail Forever is raising funds for the Build a Wildlife Area program during the Willie McRae Wildlife Benefit taking place from 5-10 p.m. on February 18 at the Cotton Dock at Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant and Call of the Uplands from 6-10 pm on February 19 at the Charleston Yacht Club. Visit scquailforever.org or email email@example.com.
Yacht Club of America
America’s Boating Club Charleston will offer boating safety classes on February 12 and March 12 at 1376 Orange Grove Road, Charleston. Classes begin at 9 am and end around 4 pm Successful participants earn a boater’s education card from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The cost is $25 for adults and youth ages 12-18 are free. Call 843-312-2876 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SALTT Fishing Seminars
Student Angler League Tournament Trail (salttfishing.com) holds monthly fishing seminars the second Tuesday of each month from 6-7 pm at Harvest Church, located at 3552 Old Kings Highway, Murrells Inlet. Speakers include charter boat captains and local fishing experts.
SALTT will also be holding a bass fishing seminar from 9 am to 12:30 pm on February 19 at J&K Outdoors, located at 1301 Highway 501 East Street in Conway. The seminar is limited to 50 participants and advance registration is recommended. Tickets are $11 and each student fisherman receives a $10 store coupon. Reservations can be made at salttfishing.com.
SALTT is a training camp for students in grades 1-12 interested in competitive fishing for redfish or largemouth bass. Three fall and three spring tournaments are scheduled at Georgetown’s Carroll Campbell Boat Landing. SALTT also hosts the annual Brody Bates Youth Redfish Scholarship Open Tournament to be held on April 2 of this year at Buck Hall Landing in McClellanville.