View Full Version : Help please! First time squirrel hunter looking to make this easy for his wife!

July 16, 2012, 10:31 AM
Alright TFL members. Once again I come to you for advice, already assured that it will be of high quality.
My wife wants to shoot squirrels, I want to eat squirrels, go outside, and shoot more challenging targets; therefore we’re going squirrel hunting.
I’ve done my VA Hunter’s Education course, and feel confidant that we can both harvest the animals humanely, but neither of us has ever hunted, furthermore we have no mentor.

SO how do we go about bagging squirrels? We’ve done our research, and Scouting starts Friday, but do y’all have any tips/techniques/things-to-avoid?

Also what should we carry? :confused: I’m thinking the normal BSA daypack gear. Water, first aid kit, map and compass (I want to be able to go back to the good spots) no cook high cal food, matches, tinder, and para-cord.
To that I’m adding a bigger fixed blade camp knife, extra ammo, ?a light plastic cutting board? see game handling thread, frozen water bottles and Ziploc bags.
Am I missing anything? And what’s the best way to haul the ice, bags, and hopefully dead squirrels: in a small soft-sided cooler, or in the bottom of the pack? :confused:

Thanks in advance, I’ll be happy just to get outdoors, and see the rodents, even if I can’t get a shot off. My wife says she is too, but I really want to make this trip both as smooth and easy as possible, and hopefully she’ll get something.

July 16, 2012, 12:46 PM
Any help y'all? I reckon its the superflous verbage, sorry. I have three basic questions
1.) Any tips for finding and harvesting squirrels. I've read some of the older threads, just looking for more data.
2.) What should we carry?
3.) What do I carry the little buggers home in?

July 16, 2012, 12:47 PM
I'm happy for you that your wife wants to hunt squirrel. I sure wish that my wife did.

Here are a few tips from my grandpa that I've passed on to my grandkids, and a few thoughts on the right gun.
- I'd suggest a 20 gauge for the wife and that or a 12 gauge for you. I'd use either number 6 shot or number 7 1/2. These days I use a 22 lever action with a scope, but if I was really food hunting, I'd use the shotgun and I'd use a full choke if you have screw-in chokes.
- Fill a small bag or a pocket with pebbles or acorns and find an area with plenty of oak trees and acorns. Sneak in there, but assume the squirrels know you're there. Sit and be quiet and wait 5 minutes and then flick pebbles into the brush or onto the leaves on the ground. To a squirrel, that means that other squirrels are eating acorns and dropping the bits and shell on the forest floor. They'll then come out of hiding. Fire away and either wait there and try it again or relocate.

- If you have a squirrel up a tree in front of you and he knows you are there, he will forever be on the other side of the tree from you. Leave your wife on this side of the tree and you make a little noise as you go to the other side. He'll relocate to your wife's side of the tree and she can blast him.

- Best hunting times are early in the morning or late in the evening and on days with little wind. You can spot squirrels at a distance by looking for moving branches as they travel from tree to tree. That's harder to do on a windy day.

- Once you have 'acquired' a squirrel or two, I usually gut them in the woods but don't skin them out till I get home. I'll usually put the gutted critter in a pouch in my hunting jacket.

- You do need a compass and you need white toilet paper. Let's say you shoot 3 squirrels from where you sat. You'll quickly forget exactly where that squirrel fell. I use the compass to shoot an azimuth to the squirrel locations where they fell. As you get up to get the little bodies and to relocate, put a small patch of the toilet paper on a twig where you were and walk the azimuth line to each squirrel from that marked spot. When I used to hunt the Louisiana swamps, if you didn't use that compass, good luck finding the squirrel you shot.

- One last thing. Gray squirrel tastes better than Fox squirrel. I don't know why. Just does. And when I skin them, I cut the skin around their middle and pull it off one end at a time. And Grandpa fried the heads and then ate the brains. He loved the squirrel brains, but I just couldn't go there. Still can't. Might get Mad Squirrel Disease....:)

July 16, 2012, 01:56 PM
Thank you very much, 603! Yeah she's all fired up to go. We went with .22lr's as to be able to afford to shoot them enough to get good. Also while she's shot plenty of long guns, neither of us has ever fired a shotgun.
So you don't worry about putting the little buggers on ice until you get home?
I think I've read the acorn thing before on here, that might've been you, but the idea of "flushing" the squirrel to her gun is really cool, and totaly new to me. I can see how it works though.

I'll remember the thing about the meat. I know my wife really wants to make this colonial era brunswick stew and if it doesn't turn out right I know for certain she'll feel bad.

Thanks again sir.

July 16, 2012, 02:37 PM
You will get various amount of advice and always common. Here is what I do but understand that this is only for a day hunt.

1) I prefer early morning and in my usual sitting position before the sun comes up. You can hunt the evening as well but may not find your squirrel, on the ground, if you hunt too late. Sitting by a nut tree is good place to start. Make sure and communicate your shooting lanes.
2) At mid-morning, I start into my stalk, for about an hour or so. Go nice and slow and enjoy.
3) I finish my hunt and clean my squirrels in the woods. I use what they call, the Cherokee method of skinning. U-Tube has lots of videos on this method.
4) I take wash water that I use to rince off the squirrels as well as wash my hands and tools. I then put the squirrels and tools in a plastic bag and into my vest. Game meat does not spoil as quickly as store meat.
5) Just about any small knife will do and I also take a pair of plant clippers that I use to cut off the legs and head.

I know my wife really wants to make this colonial era brunswick stew and if it doesn't turn out right I know for certain she'll feel bad.
Can't hardly go wrong and it's good. I usually just pan fry like chicken and bake for two hours using the old Cambell's cream of chicken recipe, over fresh biscuits. This is making me hungry. Oh yes, greys are better eating but they are all good. ..... ;)

Be Safe !!!

July 16, 2012, 03:01 PM
All good advise so far. Go slow. Use your ears more than your eyes. Walk into an area at daybreak as silently as possible and just sit for a while. If you don't hear anything in about 10 minutes, walk a hundred yds or so and sit again.

July 16, 2012, 05:06 PM
WanderingRed, it sure sounds like ya'll are going to have a lot of fun, and it does make me happy that your wife wants to be part of the hunt.

One thing that I forgot to mention is that a small pair of binocs can also be a good thing to have with you. There will be times when a squirrel is up in a big tree and hiding on a limb. They are almost impossible to see with even young eyes, so binocs can be a help.

Do try to pick a day with low or even no wind. Many days will be like that early in the morning. If you get lucky enough to have a morning like that, the wind won't be whipping limbs around. What that means is if you see a limb or leaves moving at a distance, it's probably one or more squirrels causing the movement.

And you've made me hungry too...

Have fun and watch out for snakes.

Jack O'Conner
July 16, 2012, 05:55 PM
You can find an older break-action shotgun for squirrels. Ask around at your gun club; someone may actually give you one.


July 16, 2012, 06:59 PM
Okay, a bit hard to appreciate but there are dumb squirrels and smart squirrels. All directly proportional to how hard they have been hunted. Some will come down to take a hard look at you in order to see what you are. Some will keep moving and won't give you much of a shot. All know you are there regardless of what you wear and how you move. Walk up on a "Bark"; Greys sound more like a cat than the Fox. When they bark, they will hold and show themselves but only for a short time. Leavs present a problem for you but will mask your movement. ..... :)

When they first move out of there hole or nest, they are very quiet, scratch and yawn, then start looking for nuts. When the nuts are in, they can be constantly moving. An ethical point is don't be a Nest-Blaster .... :(

Be Safe !!!

July 16, 2012, 07:38 PM
Ugh making me want to shoot squirrels! I have only ever eaten fox so ill have to try n find some greys. Lots of good advice here. Only thing I would add is that they make a lot of good squirrel calls that I have had some luck with. I use a wounded squirrel and a standard bark call. Wounded will get them out looking bark will get them to sit still.

12g with 6-7 shot may sound like overkill but they are tough animals. I started out as a child using a 410 and my dad would carry a 22 for the longer shots. 20 and 12 would work but I like having a 22 along.

July 16, 2012, 08:58 PM
I notice that the season starts early in Virginia. Be aware that bot fly larvae cause warbles quite commonly on squirrels until colder weather. I don't know that they hurt anything, but they are not very appetizing.

July 17, 2012, 07:25 AM
Those warbles only damage the skin. The meat underneath is still good.

The absolute best way to see squirrels is to sit in a deer stand with a 30-06. You'll be covered up in the noisy things then. :D

July 17, 2012, 08:51 AM
I haven't hunted squirls in many, many, years. Since I was a kid and went with my uncle.

I wouldn't recommend his method but it worked. He carried a single shot bolt action 22, a double bitted ax and a couple dogs.

The dogs would tree the squire, he'd chop down the tree and shoot the squirel.

Then it would be squirel and dumplings. A lot of work but we didn't have a lot of money, we killed or grew most of what we ate.

I'm sure tree huggers wouldn't approve of his method but we didn't go hungry.

July 17, 2012, 11:18 AM
Thanks all of you. I'll see if I can't get a hold of a 12 gauge for the hunt, I have a line on two of them, so we'll see how that shakes out. My wife has been following the thread (shoot, do I have to change my signature?), and she's getting really excited. Especially about the recipes. I'm pretty pumped to go out and start scouting.

One more question; squirrels have to carry some diseases and parasites, what do we need to look for? Just thought of it and am commencing research now. Thanks again!

July 17, 2012, 11:44 AM
I'll see if I can't get a hold of a 12 gauge for the hunt
I guess I missed something as I'm wondering why you don't or can't use a .22 rifle. That is a lot more fun. A 12ga is overkill and could make quite a mess that will present more problems. ..... :(

diseases and parasites
Here are the things I am familiar with and now, your wife might start getting second thoughts. There is the "mange" that is caused by a mite. I think folks down south call these; "the Warbles". You can easily make out a mangie squirrel and I shoot and leave them lay. Watch out for fleas and ticks. The fleas will concentrate in the groin areas. Does not have to pose a problem as they usually stay on the skin and the rest will wash off later. Be sure and check each other, for "Deer" ticks, at the end of the day. As a habbit, I usually check the liver for spots, just an old habit. ... ;)

Might add that I have never let these problems, keep me from hunting squirrels. That is just the way of it.

Be Safe !!!

Wild Bill Bucks
July 17, 2012, 12:22 PM
Only thing I noticed you might add to your list is a jar of vinegar. I know it sounds stupid, but if you take a rag, and wipe the vinegar on your legs and arms, and any exposed skin, it will keep the ticks and chiggers off of you, as well as poison ivy & oak. Since squirrel hunting doesn't require your scent to be un-noticable, it won't make a bit of difference to the squirrel, and it will keep her a lot more comfortable while she is hunting.

I don't take my wife very often because she is a better shot than I am, and I can't stand the ribbing.:o

July 17, 2012, 12:23 PM
Warbles and mange aren't the same thing. Mange is caused by a microscopic organism. I've never heard of mange on a squirrel - canines (dogs, coyotes, ) yes but not a rodent. Warbles are the larvae of the bot fly. The fly lays the egg on the fur and the hatched larvae burrows through the skin and starts to grow. It looks like a boil. When it is finished growing it burrows out again. I imagine it is painful for the squirrel but it doesn't harm the meat and it isn't harmful to humans.

July 17, 2012, 12:38 PM
Warbles and mange aren't the same thing.
Good and thanks for clearing that up. :)

I've never heard of mange on a squirrel.

Well, you have now and it's real. Can cause critters, a lot of distress. It can also be easily transmitted. I've shot mangie squirrels in my back yard and it hurts me to do so but in the end, doing the right thing. ..... :)

Be Safe !!!

July 17, 2012, 01:42 PM
Thanks Pahoo. I know that animal parasites can be very location specific. Down here, I never have to worry about warbles - we appear to be too far south for them. And, like I said, I've never seen mange on rodents. Maybe that variety of mange doesn't come this far south either (now if I could just teach more New Yorkers that trick I'd be a happy man).

On the other hand, we have some parasites that appear to be unique here. On wild pigs, we have a critter that is not exactly a tick but kind of behaves like one. It is longer and angular shaped and has a harder shell body instead of a soft body.

July 17, 2012, 02:01 PM
I know that animal parasites can be very location specific.
Ya know, that was my exact thought after sending my last message and I'm sure you are correct. First time I saw a blow fly in action was down in Alabama, in late November. Most of our critters are gone by late October. I've never had chiggers in Iowa but got a good dose, one summer, in Nebraska. I think I'd rather wrestle a skunk that get into Chiggers, again .. :eek:
By the way, even the squirrels in Alabama are different. They are big and ugly.

Just last week, I saw a squirrel run across a city road that was overed with mange. The wife could not even tell it was a squirrel. Not pretty and felt sorry for him. .... :(

Be Safe !!!

July 17, 2012, 02:10 PM
Hey Pahoo, THANKS! I know what mange looks like and little more. Its transmitted by tiny mites that may or may not be visible, and once it gets bad the animals become a patch work of bald and balding spots, ultimatley loosing all their hair and death from starvation or infection. It spreads really quickly by contact.

:confused: So if we see a mangey squirrel I reckon we should shoot it to keep the rest of the population safe?

Never mind, you already answered it Pahoo. Thanks!
I don't figure that that'll scare her off. I've had ticks AND lyme disease before, thank God she was in my life, cause she litterally drug my stupid feverish tail to a Doc. And our old roommate infested the house with fleas. We'll just let the mangey ones lie.

July 17, 2012, 02:13 PM
The absolute best way to see squirrels is to sit in a deer stand with a 30-06. You'll be covered up in the noisy things then.

That's all too true!

Every year when I'm out squirrel hunting I have to REALLY hunt for them. On the other hand every year when I'm out deer hunting I see them EVERYWHERE and hear them all over! The problem of course is I've got too large a caliber gun to shoot squirrel AND I don't want to scare away any deer that might be nearby.

Its almost like the little buggers know when I'm gunning for them and when I'm not!

July 17, 2012, 02:24 PM
Oh and good stuff! The cdc has a list of rodent specific diseases.
"Diseases Directly Transmitted by Rodents," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA, Stable link: http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/diseases/direct.html, Last updated, June 7, 2011, viewed on 7/17/2012

I reckon everyone should read that.

July 17, 2012, 02:43 PM
I guess I missed something as I'm wondering why you don't or can't use a .22 rifle. That is a lot more fun. A 12ga is overkill and could make quite a mess that will present more problems. .....

We can, and that's the plan, though others have suggested using the shotgun for a greater chance of harvesting an animal. My wife and I like the .22 though as neither of us has really shot a shot gun, and I'm not comfortable with a single bead as opposed to the front and rear sight.

The absolute best way to see squirrels is to sit in a deer stand with a 30-06. You'll be covered up in the noisy things then.
My uncle up in PA says this is very very true. I've walked up to a deer close enough to touch one behind his house, but come hunting season he says they get much smarter.

July 17, 2012, 03:29 PM
By the way, even the squirrels in Alabama are different. They are big and ugly.

I've see some Alabama women that fit that description too.

July 17, 2012, 11:34 PM
I hunt my squirrels in the mountains in either oaks or sugar pines. I like to use .22lr, 40 gr solids. In some areas, you're better off with a shottie do not always knowing what's behind your target..... shooting up into trees.

I just drive to my hunt area, get out and quietly stroll thru the trees, often standing or sitting perfectly still for a while. I look for signs and listen for them barking.

I always gut and clean mine, put them in baggies, then in an ice chest before I leave the mountains.