View Full Version : Squirrel scouting...

October 3, 2009, 10:20 PM
I've been wanting to go hunting for the first time. I cannot, for the life of me, find somebody to go with, so I figured I'd read some books, and start on my own, beginning with small game this year. (I don't have a suitable deer rifle, and want to get my feet wet before I spend time and money on something I have never done.) I've been shooting for a long time, and I have fished a lot, but never hunted. It looks like proper preparation is step one...so I took the missus and the chitlin to PA State Gamelands #43 today.

We went hiking to see if we could find us some squirrels. I did find a good patch of hickories and oaks to hunt out of, but didn't see much in the way of squirrels. It had a little ground water here and there, which I suppose would be good, but we still didn't see any squirrels. However, it was a little warm today, and we got there in the middle of the afternoon. To get to this patch of trees, I had to hike in about a mile and a half. I'm a little worried I may get lost in the pre-dawn hours, but I took good notes, have a compass, and put my map in a plastic sleeve.

I think for the early part of the year, I am going to use a 12-gauge shotgun. I've acquired a really old Stevens single shot that I am going to use with light load #4 shot. When the leaves come off the trees a bit, I think I am going to switch over to a scoped .22 I have. The area I found looked to have great mast - one of my footfalls would cover six or eight nuts in places. My hope is to get to the parking area for this spot during the way-dark, hike in pre-dawn, and start out as the sun comes up.

PA does not allow Sunday hunting, and I work every day of the week, with every OTHER Saturday off - and I work in a different state than I live. Ergo, I have to make my hunts count. I like just being in the woods, but some edible payoff sure wouldn't hurt my feelings.

I'm excited. Anyone have any thoughts or tips? Sorry this post wasn't super informative - I'm just seeing if anyone else is doing anything similar that might help me out idea-wise.

Safety first!

October 3, 2009, 10:37 PM
you will often find broken nut shells and other food stuffs under squirrel trees. it is not uncommen not to see squirrels, they usually circle to the back of trees when they see a threat. sometimes you will see them on the ground looking for food or going from tree to tree. if you get in early and stay quiet you should be able to pick off a few. you might want to look for a second or third spot you can walk too once the squirrels get spooked. have fun and good luck :)

October 3, 2009, 10:51 PM
Oh yeah, there was a pile of broked-open nuts under all the trees. I was really just scouting the lay of the land, as I had not been there before.

I suspect part of the problem was my little boy - he is seven and a half, and he likes the sound of his voice nearly as much as I do :-)

October 4, 2009, 12:30 AM
Be on spot right before sunrise or a few hours before dark... Mid afternoon is siesta time for squirrels most of the time...
Takes a real hungry bugger or perfect weather to have activity from 10AM to 3 or 4 PM...

October 4, 2009, 12:43 AM
Yeah, Brent, I'd planned on it. I was just trying to get out there and work the area a little.

There was broken shells everywhere. I know the little boogers are in there...I just have to wake up earlier :-)

October 4, 2009, 12:54 AM
Good luck... it is tuff to wake early when yer on TFL this late/early...:D

October 4, 2009, 06:38 AM
#4 is a bit heavy for squirrel, we have never had #6, or #7 1/2 fail.

like said above sit real still/quiet under a tree that you can see the squirrel trees from.

also in pine forests look for shredded pine cones.

when you shoot the bugger watch where it falls. if you see no movement get a good look in the area and mark your location. keeping an eye on the location as you walk towards it.
the buggers can be amazingly hard to see once they hit the ground.

also if they have a large lump, a hole, some times without hair, and sometimes the end of a grub sticking out, just toss it. its a warble. they are really bad in so. ohio right now. http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/slansky/botfly/ABOTFLY/overview.htm

October 4, 2009, 01:29 PM
I've been told that larger shot makes for easier pickin's when it comes time to do that...pulling BB's out of meat or crushing fillings sounds less than awesome.

I've also got a box of seven and a half loads, too, though, so maybe I will do a little experimenting, if I am lucky enough to see many squirrels.

Am I the only person to wish he had a double, so I could put a slug in one barrel for deer, and shot in the other barrel for small game?


October 4, 2009, 01:45 PM
Gov., In many areas it is illegal to possess substandard loads while deer hunting... Technicality is the warden has no way to be sure you will not light off the 7 1/2 on a deer even if you have a slug in the other pipe.
But I will tell you that a barking squirrel shot with a slug shuts up right dern now:D!!!

October 4, 2009, 01:49 PM
I use 7 1/2 in dense woods where I am basically shooting up into a tree, In this situation I also use cyl. bore exclusively. For more open woods I liked the 6 cuz I might get 30 yard shots and a tighter choke helped too. #4 on them ol' "fox" squirrels at the longer ranges was fine and easy to pick as you mention.

October 4, 2009, 02:20 PM
Well, I guess that I'm on the opposite end. I like to install my turkey choke and shoot high brass 4's or 6's. Most of the time it's the cheap bulk Rem ammo from Walmart in 7.5's though. I love catching a squirrel in mid jump with a load of 4's.

When the leaves are all gone, I'll also set up in a wide open oak flat and pick them off with the .17. That's a fun shoot. Neck and above only.

October 4, 2009, 02:26 PM
wpc, I bet with that setup, a 60 yard hit is very possible?

October 4, 2009, 02:55 PM
Looks like I have both possibilities - 4 or 7.5. I'll try em both. My .22 is a Savage Mark I FVT (Single shot bolt, target barrel) with a BSA Sweet .22 on it. THAT is a fun gun, and I'm betting I'll get me somethin' with it, if the opportunity presents itself.

My brother is kicking around the idea of going with me, which would make me happy - we'd be spending some time together, plus, one of us could wield a shotgun, and the other a rifle, sort of a "best of both worlds" hunting tag-team.


October 4, 2009, 07:31 PM
One more tip. After you shoot a squirrel, don`t immediately get up and walk over to it. Watch were it falls and sit tight. Especially early in the season. Many times you`ll kill multiple squirrels out of one tree and never move.

October 4, 2009, 07:59 PM
Opens here on the 15th.... think me and my trusty rifle will go.:rolleyes:

October 4, 2009, 09:13 PM
I'm certainly excited. I think I have done enough homework to have a reasonable chance of using my extra-old equipment well enough to earn a meal.

If our forefathers did it with the same equipment, I should be man enough to do the same, methinks.

October 8, 2009, 01:32 AM
Sorry Hogdogs, was away for a while. Oh yea, very plausable. With a good rest, 80yds is the farthest I've stepped off to a kill. Had to catch him just right, soon as he picked up an acorn. I think I watched that squirrel for 15 minutes thru the scope till I got the right shot. Head/neck only though...those .17's do some major damage.

October 8, 2009, 01:37 AM
WPC, I meant the turkey choked shotgun... At the range I always hunted them, That choke would have caused me to make ground squirrel meat:eek:

October 8, 2009, 01:43 AM
Ohhhhh. Yea they don't fair so well at close ranges. But you can stretch out there on them with the turkey choke. I love knocking them out when jumping from limb to limb. It helps when you've got multiple bogeys.

October 8, 2009, 04:13 AM
Am I the only person to wish he had a double, so I could put a slug in one barrel for deer, and shot in the other barrel for small game?

No you're not. When I was younger, and double guns were more common, most everyone I knew, myself included, hunted just like that. Small shot in the open barrel, buckshot in the tight one. Rabbit dogs were always jumping deer, and nobody I knew was above shooting a deer in front of them.

Personally I don't use anything smaller than #6 shot for squirrels when I use a shotgun. I like #5 better. I've seen too many make it back to the hollow tree after a hit with 7 1/2.

October 8, 2009, 06:59 PM
I hunt them fairly often and agree that 6 shot is the way to go. with six shot, even with a long shot the pellets usually wind up between the meat and skin on the opp side. if you are close many will blow clean through with a few maybe stuck in the thick of the legs. You shouldn't worry too much about picking shot out of the meat b/c its easy to see where it entered and if it exited or not. things i can suggest is also look for holes in trees, sometimes a tree will have multiple holes in it, and it will be a squirrel family :D thats a situation where you sit and shoot and do not move and 20 min later another one pops out and so on and so on. If you walk up to a tree like this, try a trick i have used several times, and it works about 50/50. walk up to the tree, i try to do so quietly and from opposite the hole. then get the gun ready and aimed where you think he will be. then take your finger nails and scratch them on the bark as if you are doing the nails on a chalk board type move. get ready fast, b/c if this technique does work the squirrel will fly out of the hole and peak around the corner to look at you. he thinks something is climbing the tree to get him. I did this on one tree and w/o exaggeration 5 squirrels came busting out of holes in it i didnt even see at first, like a S.W.A.T. team. oddly enough i didnt get a shot at any of them! but it was cool to see that trick work.

Also if you can stalk up on a squirrel you see from a distance and get close, that is excellent practice for deer. ALso look for them where the branch meets the tree, they like to sit in that 90 degree angle section. Also if there is a a branch that is leaning against a tree, the squirrel will usually take that as the route up it. they are lazy, why hit the tree at a right angle when they can use the ramp. i find if there are downed trees, again, path of least resistance they like to walk down them. ALso take note of what they sound like, if you aren't accustomed to their noises you can mistake them for a bird type sound. Look for their flickering tail that usually gives them away especially when they are being vocal they can't help but move it. Before you know it you will be able to spot them much better w/o even thinking about it.

Enjoy your self thats how i started self teaching myself how to hunt, started with squirrels, by the 2nd deer season since then i bagged my first! WHen you go out like you seem to be not focused on filling your bag limit but more like enjoying a day in nature and doing some hunting, it is that much more rewarding. and the more you are in the woods the more you will learn, and i'm sure you will see lots of things you'd never imagine. enjoy it, i'm young, but wish i got into it years earlier. Have a great time..

October 8, 2009, 09:31 PM
Lots of good stuff, here, guys... thanks. I can't wait!

October 8, 2009, 10:05 PM
Not seeing squirrel is probably the norm. Move a ways from your wife and set-in camo if possible. They will show soon. Dont be in a hurry. Id never use smaller than 6's for squirrel. They, esp fox, are tough.

bob kk
October 10, 2009, 02:46 PM
Home depot or Lowes sell a small roll of plastic tape.
It's good to tie on trees to find your way back. Saw
some in the mountain about a week ago. When he made
a turn he left 2 pieces a few yards apart.

November 20, 2009, 02:01 PM
Thanks to all of you guys for all the advice. Today was my second day out for the season, and I got two...with one shot!

November 21, 2009, 11:42 AM
Nice job govmule84, looks like you're getting the hang of it!

November 21, 2009, 11:56 AM
Trying to!

I only have a single shot, so I waited for 'em to get near each other, and I got lucky!

November 22, 2009, 09:34 PM
I've got nearly 30 seasons under my belt, have shot hundreds and hundreds of squirrels, and can only remember one double!

November 22, 2009, 11:34 PM
Fine job, Gov!

I like to Squirrel hunt. I also enjoy the Bounty. Squirrel smothered down in onions ~n~ garlic, cooked down... then make a roux to thicken the gravy and serve it over rice... Did that last weekend...:cool:

Also, squirrel calls are cheap, and it's interesting and fun to talk to those Squirrels with 'em...

Very fine job, and a double! :D Awesome. Welcome to the Wonderful World of Hunting!

November 23, 2009, 11:38 AM
That's about how I got my start squirrel hunting. I used my dad's single shot 20ga, and his single shot bolt-action .22 (with no rear sight...it had a target peep sight, and he removed it...makes it interesting to shoot where you want it).

bob kk
November 23, 2009, 07:15 PM
Never got two with one shot. Could be because I use
a 22 for most of my Squirrel hunting. Have got two a
few times in less than a minute. Nothing for them to
eat around here. No acorns or hickory nuts to be found.
Think the Squirrels left to find food. Go 50 mi East
or west and still nothing.

November 27, 2009, 01:22 AM
You can look forward to scenes like this if you keep going into the woods.

Snapped these pics while hunting last week.

Ever tried Squirrel Dumplings? Real Tasty.

Have Fun.

November 28, 2009, 03:41 PM
Dumplings sound delicious!

I used to see reds like that when I lived in MO, but in CT and here in PA, all I ever glimpse are grays.

That turkey...now that looks like fine eatin'.:D