View Full Version : Hunting squirrels in brush with open sights

Oleg Volk
May 16, 2002, 09:59 AM
None of my rifles are scoped. I am considering trying to hunt squirrels for the pot using a .22 144SLA Mossberg bolt action (peep sight) or an AR15 20" or a 12GA 870 with IC choke. I am curious if my task is even practical or if a low-power scope is a must?

May 16, 2002, 10:49 AM
that's the only way true hunters hunted. Just sit by a tree with a .22(short, so it's quiet) and pick off the little critters until you got your limit. :) Then go round and pick then all up, take them home for the old lady to clean and tell how far you walked to bring her this fine dinner.;)

May 16, 2002, 11:30 AM
MLH speak true.

Just be attentive to what's beyond your targets.

Fun and fruitfull usually. If not fruitfull, still fun.


May 16, 2002, 09:24 PM
I really don't think an AR-15 / .223 is a good squirrel gun, for both meat damage and safety!
If you want to use the shotgun, that's OK, less challenging, but OK. I'd suggest a Full-Choke instead of IC, then aim at the tip of the nose. Most squirrels are taken while sitting or fidgiting, rarely on the full run.

Now, for the ultimate squirrel hunt, use that .22 with peep sights!
Practice stalking! Real hunting! What a hoot!
If you goof the sneak or miss the shot, so what, it's only a squirrel, they'll be another one along in a few minutes. But, every bushytail brought to bag, is a trophy!!!
My Marlin 39A w. peep sight has provided alot of squirrel stew for the last 30 years.

My favorite load is REM 38gr HP Sub-Sonic LR. Accurate and pretty quiet.

May 16, 2002, 09:58 PM
you could bark them with .223, but thats a pretty zippy round to target a squirrel.

i would use the 22lr

& get you a dog!


May 17, 2002, 10:06 AM
I was still using a 12 gage full choke. I'd only shoot when I was surrounded by 3-4 squirrels. Then I'd cut loose and try to get them all. The first one was routine. The others were of course on a run and made for some interesting shooting.
My philosophy is that when in the woods and serious about killing something, I always took the 12 gage. When you're after more
sport, either use a smaller gage shotgun or the .22lr.
Agree with the others, .223 is way too much gun on squirrels.
Oh, one other thing, with the 12 gage, if the squirrel was within about 20 yards I'd aim directly in front of him, otherwise the shot are in still in a very close pattern and will literally destroy most of the animal. My experience was always with full choke. The IC choke may allow closer shots. Usually used #6's 2 3/4".

May 17, 2002, 12:35 PM
.22 with peep sights! ;)

May 17, 2002, 01:37 PM
Scotjute- I used to hunt my dad's little place in Kentucky with a beat-up old Brazilian over-under 12 gauge marked "S.S. Kresge" (K-Mart predecessor) that I bought (heavily) used off a guy for $50. The gun has bottom barrel full and top modified chokes. I generally used a light field load of #7-1/2s and used only the modified barrel on treed squirrels. One time all I had was a box of high-brass #9's I had leftover from a dove-hunting trip down here in Texas rice fields. For some reason I had loaded chambers on both barrels, and in my excitement and subsequent confusion touched off the full choke barrel at a medium sized gray in a sycamore about 20 feet above me. Down came twigs, bits of flesh, blood, and fur and finally one horribly mangled gray squirrel. The thing spun and tumbled, shedding parts on the way down; it looked a little like a WWII fighter hit by large caliber antiaircraft fire.

I put the pitiful remains in my game pouch anyway, and continued my hunt with somewhat more success, getting 5 or 6 more in the next couple of hours. I was back at the barn and had cleaned the better squirrels, and was trying to decide what the heck to do with this thing that resembled a furry bloodsoaked gray dishrag. It was a fairly nasty sight. The problem was solved when one of my mother's barn cats dashed up, grabbed a hold of the critter, and dragged him under my dad's old toolbench at the back of the barn. The cat stayed crouched under the bench, ate that sucker bones, fur, and all; he growled at me and gave me dirty looks the whole time. Well, at least no game was wasted.

Oleg- I started using a Ruger 10-22 with stock sights on squirrels right after that, and only on ground shots. Still have that old shotgun, though.

May 18, 2002, 10:09 AM
Try squirrel hunting with an adult airgun. Lots of satisfaction. I use a tuned , scoped R9 in .177 cal.

May 18, 2002, 10:29 PM
When I was young enough to know everything, I thought using a scope was cheating. Now I love ‘em. Either way is ok.

Now in the springtime, the trees in my area are too leafy for me to see a squirrel at any distance anyway. I’m taking the shotgun next time I go out.

As for the AR-15, if you’re hunting in Tennessee it may be moot: Unless the TWRA decides next week to lift the restriction against using centerfire rifle on small game. Currently it's illegal.

But if it does become legal -- “Barking” (shooting close to the head so a squirrel is killed by the concussion of the bark) or a head shot are the only feasible alternatives to using .223 on squirrels IMHO.

But for me, “Barking” doesn’t work so good; shot too close once with a .50 cal muzzleloader. Head and forelegs were connected to the hind legs and tail by only a strip of backbone. Everything else was blown away. Not enough meat to put in a teaspoon. I suppose I used enough gun though.

May 18, 2002, 10:39 PM
I like to use the shotgun too.

I always use at least #6 Shot to ensure that the shot exits the animal and I don't have to bite into it.

May 19, 2002, 07:19 PM
The air rifle suggestion was a good one.

The 22 with good ammo would be a good squirrel medicine.

For a shotgun, 410 guage = the only way to go.


May 19, 2002, 08:49 PM
Open sighted .22 on squirrels is almost as American as apple pie and baseball!

Just make sure there is something solid behind the little guy is all.

May 20, 2002, 03:19 PM
Squirrel hunting is a two gun hunt for me I take my 10-22 and a .410. I use the scattergun if they are up in the trees. It means that you can worry alot less about overtravel and where the pellets fall. Also a .410 has more of a punch so they won't get stuck in the tree.

.223 is way to much if you want meat I might even suggest staying away from real powerful lr loads like stingers.

I read somewhere where a group of guys would hunt them with .50 cal blackpowder (really light less than 50 grains of powder). They had a rule that only head shots count, anyone who (missed) got to do all the cleaning.

May 22, 2002, 11:07 AM
I killed my first squirrel with a shotgun last year. I've always used a .22 before this. I haven't used an unscoped .22 yet, as most of my shots are at a partial squirrel head peeking over a tree at 40 yards or so. The scope really helps in picking out peeking squirrels.

May 26, 2002, 10:57 AM
I usually use a 12 G.

I lack the patience of you guys to sit and wait for em'- I prefer to continue moving until one takes off in the top of an oak tree. Man those things can move!

What makes it really fun is during quail season I'm hunting birds on the ground and squirrels in the trees :)



May 26, 2002, 12:27 PM
My son took a squirrel with his ranch rifle (on the ground).

Didn't even have to gut it, eviscerated (?) in one shot!:D

May 26, 2002, 02:40 PM
I don't want to hunt squirrels with an AR-15, unless you have converted it to shoot .22LR. The .223 Rem is not a squirrel cartridge! It would tear the squirrel apart.

As for Remington 870 12-guage, you'd want to use 2.75" #4 shot, but you would regret using shot when you break your teeth at the dinner table. It also tears up more meat than a .22LR to the head.

I always use .22LR.

May 26, 2002, 05:32 PM
.22LR is perfect for them. I've used open, peep and scope sights .
Since most of my shots were taken at fairly close ranges, the peepsights worked well, but a scope was much better when the cover darkened the target = better lightgathering and the magnification made headshots, where the little critters were peeking around treetrunks, showing only head & shoulders, possible.:)
Camp Stew! = YUM!:D

Will Beararms
May 26, 2002, 09:59 PM

Don't even consider a .22LR w/o a scope. Squirrels are fast and really fast when they are shot at. The purpose of the .22 is to hit the squirrel in the head and put them out instantly.

If you use a shot gun consider the the trees. If they are very tall, go with a full choke. If not a modified will suffice but I would not use an improved cylinder.

May 27, 2002, 07:28 PM
Don't even consider a .22LR w/o a scope.

I don't mean to be contentious, but I've reach my bag limit countless times with a Marlin model 60 w/o a scope. All head shots! I regularly put a .22 bullet through the squirrels ears. It gets harder past 50 yards, so I don't take shots more than 50 yards. Maybe a scope would change that. But a scope isn't going to raise the bag limit. I like scopes, but I don't like always having to sight them in.

Squirrels are fast and really fast when they are shot at.

If you use a scope, be sure to follow the squirrel with both eyes open. If you shut one eye you will likely loose sight of the squirrel. I usually wait until the squirrel stops for a second, then bang!

Squirrels are very cautious creatures. If you can't get one stop for a good shot, try barking like a dog (If I can fool any dog I can fool a squirrel). That will freeze him for a second, or two, as he will try to locate the threat. It usually spooks all the other squirrels too and they will run and hide, but so does a rifle shot. They will venture out again in ten or fifteen minutes.

Art Eatman
May 27, 2002, 10:38 PM
rebeldon, whatever sights are used vary with one's ability to focus one's eyes. For some it's just the way God made 'em; for others it's an age thing.

I really hate to try to do any good with lining up two blurs on a sharp-focus target. Sucks.

:D, Art

May 28, 2002, 10:40 AM
Used to borrow my Uncles over/under that had a .22 on top and a .410 or 20 ga. on the bottom. Don't remember the brand as I was just a young pup back then and was too concerned about that, just if it went "boom":D. You covered all bases that way.