View Full Version : Squirrel Hunting

January 29, 2012, 12:41 AM
I have eaten just about everything you can hunt from rabbit to elk but I have never hunted squirrel. I was hoping someone here could enlighten me as to the best method to go about this and keeping the meat edible at the same time.

My first thought was my .22 with FMJ rounds (what I usually use for rabbit) but I also have a .17 HMR that I thought might be a better option because of the better ballistics. My only worry was the bullet fragmenting and ruining any edible portions of the animal. Also where do you want to set your crosshairs on the little varmants?

January 29, 2012, 01:41 AM
22LR. OR THE 17HMR work very well,Just shoot them in the head no meat lose that way.So witch ever one you can shoot the best wins.The 17hmr does tear them up alittle worse have fun.:D

January 29, 2012, 01:53 AM
I've had decent success hunting squirrels with a 12ga (the land I hunt on has houses much too close to consider taking any shots above ground level with a rifle) and relatively large shot. Larger shot makes it easier to avoid biting down on some accidentally, and didn't damage much meat.

January 29, 2012, 07:56 AM
Some good insight already posted above on what weapon to use. Me personally I use a Scoped BB gun. Now as far as how I go about it? I get decked out in my favorite camo just like for deer, I then go to a previously scouted area and have a seat, give the woods time to calm down as I like to say, and before you know it here they come! I like early morning and late afternoon

January 29, 2012, 10:04 AM
If you plan on eating 'em (and you should). I prefer a .22 lr. It doesn't destroy as much meat as the .17hmr and you don't have shot to deal with as with a shotgun.

January 29, 2012, 11:09 AM

January 29, 2012, 11:10 AM
I guess it depends on the the situation. Regardless, I try to stay with one of my trusted .22LR, non-hollow point as the .17 is too hot and wasted on squirrels.

1) .22LR; Close shots, in the head shot. Further out, neck shot and lastly, shoulder.
2) In one of my best spots, the land owner requests that I use a shotgun. In this case, I take my Savage-24BDL, .22Short over 20GA.
3) My .36 side lock and this one I enjoy the most. ;)

At the end of the hunt, I clean all my squirrels in the field, roll them up in a plastic grocery bag and stick them back in my vest. This way I leave the mess, in the woods, for the hawks. .... :)

Be Safe !!!

January 29, 2012, 12:30 PM
I use a .22lr just behind the shoulder. I don't get a lot of head shot opportunities with my wily pine squirrels. A Velocitor puts them out immediately and I load my guns with them in case I run across a rabbit or 'coon. I could probably use tamer ammo but the Velocitors have never failed me.

January 29, 2012, 01:21 PM
Shooting Practice
The most useful thing I have ever done to improve my squirrel hunting is to spend time at the range with a scoped 22 and a handdful of golfballs. The golfball almost perfectly mimics the size of a squirrles head (grey and fox) When you hit the golfball, it hops around and gives you another shot, and a slightly different angle and range. Once you start to hit golfballs with ease, it's pretty easy to convert that skill into headshots on squirrels.

Hunting Methods
Not sure if this will help you, since I don't think the terrain in Kansas is similar to Wisconsin timber, but I usually use "spot and stalk" for squirrel. Move thru the woods slowly and look for squirrels foraging or listen for them gnawing on nuts. Then, quietly sneak into shooting range. Depending on where you are hunting, you will need to decide it shooting up into trees is safe, otherwise you'll have to try and tag them on the ground.
Stand hunting is also effective, especially in the morning or evening.
We will usually sit for a an hour or so after sun-up, then start to spot and stalk.

Guns and gear
Either your double-duece or sweet-seventeen should be fine. I use mainly a .22. If a shotgun is used, stick with 6 shot as most of the shot will pass thru, and the remaining pellets will be easier to find. As for other gear, don't overlook the use of binoculars. Even it heavy timber, they aid in spotting the little bushytails.

And remember to have fun. Many hunters "grow out of" hunting rabbits and squirrels in seach of bigger game. But there is not many hunts that are as simply enjoyable than chasing bushytails:cool:

playin' hookey
January 29, 2012, 01:37 PM
I use a 12 ga shotgun. Meat damage is minimized by using relatively large shot (I prefer 5s) which minimizes the number of pellets hitting the squirrel, and not shooting them too close. Minimum distance depends on your gun's choke, and for me is about 20 yards with a modified choke and about 25-30 yards with full. I use a mod or even IC earlier in the season when leaves are on trees and shots are closer, and a full helps with the longer shots you may get later after the leaves drop. The downside of using a shotgun is that you have no control over where the pellets strike, so some of the time you will penetrate the guts. As long as you don't wait too long before cleaning them, this isn't a big problem. A 22 rifle is sporting and fun, and generally produces less meat damage, but most people will kill more squirrels with a shotgun. As for cleaning them, I do it at home where I can wash them promptly after cleaning. Skinning and gutting in the field would be ok if they are all shot in the head with a 22, but if the guts have been penetrated you are going to contaminate the meat and washing promptly is important if poo-poo is smeared around.

January 29, 2012, 09:40 PM
In the late fall and early winter (think leaves gone) I like to chase the tree rats with my scoped .22 lr. During the summer and early fall (heavy foliage) I use the 20 guage with #6 shot.

The foliage hides them better and hides me better from them. That allows me some spot and stalk options. You can still stalk them when the leaves are off but the shots tend to be outside of shotgun range.

January 30, 2012, 08:48 AM
A .22 lr headshot

January 30, 2012, 07:38 PM
Was thinking on a .32 cap lock for squirrel and target. Two questions: 1) Any reason a .36 would be better? and 2) You are using a patched ball I assume, no?

January 30, 2012, 07:56 PM
Two questions: 1) Any reason a .36 would be better? and 2) You are using a patched ball I assume, no?
Used a .32 Cherokee and older CVA, for a time with much enjoyment. No reason not to use a .32 and it's just that the .36, is easier to work with and support. I personally prefer the .36 over the .32. .... :)

I am using a PRB pretty much exclusively on my sidelocks. I run my own lead and have a .36 MaxiBall mold, if I need more energy. Might also add that in the past, I have used a .45 as well as .50, for squirrels. I know !!! :eek:

Be Safe !!!

January 30, 2012, 10:47 PM
As you creep through the woods, the squirrels will know you are there and will hide until the danger is gone. My grandpa, who taught me how to hunt, always filled a pocket with acorns or pebbles. We'd go into an acorn flat (Oak flat) and sit against a tree and wait 5 or 10 minutes and then he'd start flicking acorns or pebbles out into the leaves. To the squirrels, that signaled that the danger must be gone, cause some other squirrel is out there eating acorns and dropping the shell pieces. They'd come out of hiding and we'd get a couple of them. Then on to the next promising area. He used his old Model 12 Winchester and I carried my 410 single shot. These days I use one of my scoped lever action 22's unless I need to get more than a couple. If I need squirrels in quantity, I use Grandpa's old full choked Model 12.

January 31, 2012, 10:15 AM
Been a .22short user for years! Sighted scope in at 35 yards and can make shots beyond that. .22lr always damaged too much meat for me if I didn't get that coveted head shot...those who think shorts aren't enough ain't hunted enough.

January 31, 2012, 11:04 AM
then he'd start flicking acorns or pebbles out into the leaves. To the squirrels, that signaled that the danger must be gone
Your Grandpa was a smart man and knew how to hunt squirrels. I've been using this trick for many years. You are also right about, no matter what you do, the little buggers always know you are there.
I often switch coma shirts so they can come out and laugh at my latest pattern. ..... ;)

I use another trick that involves an old squirrel tail, on the end of a stick; will leave this one to your imagination. ..... :)

Be Safe !!!

tim s
January 31, 2012, 11:27 AM
For all you folks that eat them and suggest the "head shot" approach you'd best be advised that there's a growing incidence of contamination from a brain born parasite that's harmfull to humans, will not be cooked out and is carried in brain and related blood so you'd best be carefull. Plenty of info online.

January 31, 2012, 02:30 PM
tim....no offense but sometimes I think all these medical things that may or may not be related to a connection in things which may be found in....are just stuff putting money in some doctor's pocket. My grandpa and grandma ate during times of the year a squirrel or two a week in their younger days...they're fine and healthy.

tim s
January 31, 2012, 02:38 PM
This is real, has been becoming a serious issue for the last few years and according to one of my best friends, among the best board certified vets in NYS, is something not to be taken lightly. I'll take his opinion over yours thank you.

For those interested Google up squirrel brain parasite, pay attention to the hits that explain this as a form of mad cow desease. Pay real close attention to the NY Times piece about the 11 cases in Kentucky that were treated, the one where 6 of those treated died. Make up your own minds.

January 31, 2012, 02:57 PM
depends on where youre hunting first and foremost. Here in early season, you wouldnt get many shots with anything but a shotgun (i like a 20 with express 5's). Later in the season i like 22lr/17hmr/22pcp air rifle. Im on the lookout for a 17m2, ive been told thats the ultimate squirrel gun. Really doesnt matter what you go, as long as you GO lol, i love squirrel hunting.

January 31, 2012, 03:52 PM
Tim s, that was a 15 year old article in the NYT, whose primary purpose was likely just to make fun of what is now probably a rare practice even in the South: eating squirrel brains in preference to the meat. The people in question were brain eaters exclusively from the sounds of things.

Most here are advocating head shooting squirrels with rimfires, which pretty much blows all of that possibly prion loaded brain tissue right out of the tree rats ears, making it unavailable for consumption,even were someone so inclined.

Me, I like a suppressed 10/22 or an unsuppressed Anschutz for headshots, and do most of my squirrel hunting either still hunting or shooting them from a ground or tree stand where populations are dense.

February 1, 2012, 08:43 AM
I've never planned or will be eating the squirrel's brains...so non-factor.

February 1, 2012, 09:11 AM
I had a great uncle who excelled at making a wild game gumbo which included Squirrel heads. He would fish around in that pot until he fond the heads and crack them like nuts to get at the brain. To each his own, though. I like the .17M2 for squirrel hunting late in the season, because I can make long shots with it. Early on I like my NEF 12 gauge single shot with #6 shot. With a rifle I aim just behind the shoulder.

February 3, 2012, 04:06 PM

Says not to eat the brains, the rest is OK to eat tho....r u pita? lol

February 4, 2012, 07:17 PM
Like Scout's great uncle, my grandpa was a big fan of squirrel brains. When he got too old to hunt I was in my late teens and I'd go shoot a few squirrels for grandma to cook. The heads were the first thing that grandpa went for. He'd crack them, and I think he used a spoon to get the brains out. I loved him enough to get squirrels for him, but I was a picky teenager and eating brains was WAY out of my area of interest, and I don't think I ever watched him eat them. I'd look the other way while chewing on my squirrel leg. I'm glad someone brought this up, because it floods me with good memories.

February 4, 2012, 08:37 PM
Must have been a 'depression era' thing. Nothing going to waste.
As a kid I spent a lot of time with my great uncle also. He was an avid outdoorsman. I have an old pics of him with squirrels tied to a piece of twine. Squirrels are draped around his neck and reach from one foot to the other. He was 6' 7" tall. When my great aunt would fix squirrel for him it would be three whole squirrel on a platter. The squirrels would be skinned,gutted with feet and tails removed.

I used to watch him eat them, brains and all. Course the squirrels were watching too. ;)

Although I never ate the squirrel brains, for Sunday morning breakfasts, he and I ate scrambled eggs and fried calf brains.

February 4, 2012, 09:19 PM
My late Great Uncle used to boil then batter and fry the brains and serve with eggs and hash browns.

February 5, 2012, 11:33 AM
Must have been a 'depression era' thing. Nothing going to waste.
I believe there is some truth in this as we use to hunt a farm that had a lot of coal. The Patriarch's name was Enslym Winfield. He and his family survived by mining and selling coal during these hard times.
They also shot and ate just about anything that walked on there property. .. ;)

At the end of a day's hunt, on his property, he asked us what we did with the heads. We kids looked at each other, a bit perplexed. Anyway, he requested the heads and we were glad to oblige. On a following hunt, he invited us to have a bowl of squirrel head soup. We politely declined as we had just eaten and weren't hungry. .... Right !!! :D

Be Safe !!!

February 6, 2012, 05:40 PM
Squirrel are tough. You will find out when you start to skin one. Meat wonderful-esp fox squirrel-dont let it dry out.

I have blacks/grays here. They are less than half a fox.