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Old December 13, 2010, 09:29 PM   #1
johnm1
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Squirrel - Arizona

I have a spot near Happy Jack, AZ that has been very productive for my daughter and myself these past 2 years. But the last 2 times we have gone have been disappointing at best. This past weekend we didn't see or hear a single squirrel. It did turn windy later in the morning (5 mph) but was calm early. Temperatures were in the mid 20's. It was sunny but didn't warm up until after the wind picked up. The previous time about a month ago I saw only a few and walked away with only one. I attributed that to a group of dirt bikers who were tearing things up with very loud dirt bikes. Heck, I wanted to go hide in the top of the trees. The area has a mixture of grey and Albert (tassel eared) squirrels though the latter is far smaller quantity. The greys have always been very vocal and a lot of fun. It seems the grey squirrels are very territorial and will bark at each other. Heck, sometimes they will bark at me. In October and November you could here the grey squirrels all morning and stalk to them. The Albert's have always been a spot and stalk type of situation and mostly on the ground.

My question is was it just a hunting thing or do squirrels become less active the colder it gets? Are the grey squirrels done fighting for territory and they are just hunkering down feeding on what they have?

Thanks.
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Old December 13, 2010, 09:39 PM   #2
huntinaz
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Not sure abour the greys, I rarely see those anyway. But the Abert's squirrels do lay low during the winter. If I remeber correctly, during the coldest months they semi-hibernate. Their heart rate slows and they don't move around much. This is consistent with the behaviour I've seen, they are much less active once it snows or starts to get cold. I was east of Happy Jack during the late elk seasons and saw only a handfull of squirrels, all Abert's. The best hunting is early in the season for sure, until the snows start.

One of the biology professors at NAU is the Abert's squirrel expert so he would give tidbits to us during class. I was one of two hunters, and we were proly the only ones paying attention
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Old December 13, 2010, 10:12 PM   #3
johnm1
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Albert's are certainly not a prevalent but they are there. I figure the Albert's have a larger range than the smaller grey squirrels. It's kind of weird where we hunt. There is an experimental forest that is fairly thick and the grey's tend to stay in the experimental forest and the Albert's tend to stay out.

I was hoping to get a few more sessions in before the season ends on 12/31/10.

Did you know that there is one unit, 31 I think (near Tucson), that has year round squirrel hunting and 32 (again I think but near Safford) allows hunting through may.
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Old December 13, 2010, 10:26 PM   #4
huntinaz
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I didn't know that, I haven't hunted squirrels at all down here. I miss squirrel hunting, so much fun and such good eating. Are the grey squirrels up north good eating? I heard they weren't so I never shot one. I shot at one once but the sucker never would hold still so I gave up. Those Abert's squirrels will stop and give you a head shot more often than not. I really never saw many greys, Abert's are by far the more prevalent squirrel in northern AZ in my experience. I used to shoot a lot of them off of Woody mountain road, it's good all the way down. But like I said, this time of year they are hard to find. I usually would switch to quail this time of year, or trout. When I get back to living up north I'll proly switch to predators about now.
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Old December 13, 2010, 11:12 PM   #5
johnm1
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Grey's are fine to eat. They are considerably smaller but easier to skin. Hunting grey's is an audible type of hunting. You can get in early and visually pick them out but it is much easier to wait until one starts to chatter/bark and follow the sound. I have never heard an Albert's make any type of sound except when hit.

I figure I'm going to try the unit near Safford after the first of the year. Not sure if it will work or not. If I recall you can only hunt tassel eared squirrels in unit 32 (have to check). It's in the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel habitat (protected).

We only went hunting in the morning. Maybe it would have been better in the afternoon after it warmed up a bit.
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Old December 14, 2010, 02:04 PM   #6
Hog Buster
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I don’t know about the squirrels in AZ, but they go in cycles of about 5 years down here in the south. I’ve been told for years by the old timers, of which I am now one, that it was caused by the “Blight”. As near as I can tell the “Blight” is nothing more than over population followed by a large die off, then the cycle starts again.

I know that something happens to make them disappear ever so often. Where I deer hunt they are never hunted and a couple of years ago they were every where. This year I have yet to see one. The same is true around the house. In past years they have had so many that they were destroying my pecan crop, this year I have only seen two.

This area has Gray’s, called cat squirrels here, Red’s and Fox. The Fox are red fox colored and have white noses and tips on their tails and are tough. The Cat’s and Red’s are fine table fare. Different areas have the different kinds as they don’t seem to tolerate others.

FYI: Rabbits run the same sort of cycle here. This year seems to be the peak, they’re everywhere.
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Old December 15, 2010, 02:16 AM   #7
James H
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It's Abert's squirrel, not Albert's squirrel, right? As in, drop the "l" from "Albert". Just wondering 'cause in northern Nevada/ southern Idaho there is the "Jarbridge" river. I'm told it's pronounced "jarbidge". No "r" in the bridge, even though it's spelled that way most of the time.
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Old December 15, 2010, 12:12 PM   #8
atlctyslkr
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I don't squirrel hunt but I have noticed that they are out less when it is colder or louder. They seem to be easily spooked. I used to hunt them when I was kid with a pellet gun. If you can get one to freeze on a tree trunk or branch you can take it. I had a scope and always went for head shots. Pellet gun hunting is fun because the report is low and doesn't scare off other targets.
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Old December 15, 2010, 04:03 PM   #9
seansean1444
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try buying a squirrel call it works for me after a little practice
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Old December 15, 2010, 10:29 PM   #10
huntinaz
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I'll second the call recommendation. Abert's don't talk much until you get to squealing on a call. I've had numerous squirrels at once start barking away at me, throughout the forest. I've since lost the darn thing. It's worth a shot, if the grays are vocal it should work on them too.
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Old December 15, 2010, 10:46 PM   #11
johnm1
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I have never had any luck with a call. Probably my lack of skill calling though. I will remove the L. Abert. Feel knd of silly. Thanks for the help.
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