By Steve Hickoff
They call it “small game” because it is. Still, targeting such game animals keeps you busy until the deer, moose, and elk seasons arrive in hunting country. Many states offer early squirrel seasons.
When sportsmen talk about “bushytail” hunting, it’s usually in reference to the gray and fox varieties (pictured here), though red (“pine”) squirrels are taken too.
I grew up hunting the Pennsylvania ridgetops for gray squirrels, and the occasional trophy black squirrel, a color phase variant. Fox squirrels (my Midwestern buds hunt them) weren’t available.
Wherever you target these and/or grays, they provide anti-couch-potato opportunity.
When does squirrel season open in your state? Mark that date. Hang treestands for fall deer while scouting squirrels.
Ride and scout. Search out squirrel haunts with your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle. Four-wheel to spots that hold this small game. Cut the engine. Survey the habitat. Plan your stalk.
Ease quietly into the woods. Move either with a slow stalking rhythm, or simply sit with your back against a tree the way you would turkey hunting. Both work. Mix it up.
Find food preferences. It pays to learn where the game eats, as with other forms of hunting. Look for nut-rich woods, with shagbark hickories, white oaks, and beech trees. Sit nearby. Chances are squirrels that spooked on your approach will reveal themselves within the hour.
Lurk near den trees. Dens are those leafy basketball-sized dwellings you see sitting at the tops of oaks and such. These reflect squirrel activity (old and new).