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Old October 25, 2012, 09:58 PM   #1
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First time squirrel hunter questions

How do you find a spot to hunt when you don't know the area? What times do you hunt? How do you hunt?
Long story short. A friend and I don't come from hunting backgrounds and want to spend some time in the woods learning new skills. Best we can come up with is state game lands/forests. Ive been out a number of times over the past 10 yrs but never see anything. I'm hunting out of Pa. What can I do to improve my odds? This last time we hunted an area full of acorns with at least a few nest and saw/missed only one.
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Old October 26, 2012, 01:03 AM   #2
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Find some public land with oak trees (acorns) and you'll get squirrels.
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Old October 26, 2012, 01:17 AM   #3
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.22 short or long rifle in subsonic flavors, or a pellet air rifle is sufficient. Anything centerfire is overkill. Peeps or irons work better than cheapo scopes in low light or looking into shady areas during the day. If you can afford a decent scope for your squirrel gun, good for you. Those squirrel calls might not bring them in, but they do get them to chatter back at you when you get close, worth it IMO. Covering lots of ground will give results let out a few calls and listen for replies, if you get nothing, move on. I don't think squirrels stray too far from their cache unless they have to. Good luck, have fun, and be safe.
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Old October 26, 2012, 04:00 AM   #4
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Acorns are the key though other nuts like walnut and hickory work too. Their working is at certain times of the day , not continuous. It's funny they have a union I guess.They start a 7 am ,work for a while then take a break ,all doing it at the same time ! A good area always is except the fairly rare times when preditors take over Then there's nothing !! But it's back in a year or two.
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Old October 26, 2012, 04:57 AM   #5
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Learn the sounds squirrels make and spend a lot of time listening. Once you hear the squirrels, ease to the spot and wait. Be safe and good luck.
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Old October 26, 2012, 06:52 AM   #6
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Patience. If there is feed, there will be squirrels. Sit quietly. Or walk real slow and quiet, stopping for, say 15 minutes at a time. BTW, I don't think air rifles are legal for hunting in PA. I grew up there and would love to try squirrels with mine, but last I checked, no. Lots of public land in PA, and far fewer squirrel hunters than in the old days, so you should have the woods to yourself.
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Old October 26, 2012, 07:15 AM   #7
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Do FAR more stopping and listening than you do walking.
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Old October 26, 2012, 02:00 PM   #8
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We do it a little different around here. Get a .22 rifle and find a place with some hardwood trees. Locate a tree that has a decent diameter and sit down against it for a while. Let things settle down and for about 15 minutes or so and the squirrels will start moving around oblivious to you. If you don't see any squirrels in 30 min or so pick up and move to another spot. If squirrels are are around you make a mental mark where it falls when you shoot it, but stay seated. You can kill many squirrels from the same spot easily if they are around. If leaves are off the trees you can pick up the squirrels moving from a good distance, move to them and settle in and have fun.

Last edited by sc outdoorsman; October 26, 2012 at 02:05 PM.
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Old October 26, 2012, 03:37 PM   #9
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Go out and walk the area before hand,find out where they're cutting nuts,listen for the shells hitting the leaves on the ground.Or go to a neighborhood park.They're usually tame enough, that if you throw a peanut into a burlap bag 20 will rush into it.
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Old October 26, 2012, 04:33 PM   #10
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All good advice for squirrels so far. Especially the one that says listen a lot. You will hear them before you see them usually. If they see you and hide, just hang out and be still. They forget about you in about 5 or 10 minutes and start moving around again.

You will learn more by an afternoon in the woods than we could ever tell you here if you pay attention. Listen to all the sounds, keep watching the trees, trail and air. Watch the birds take flight from the trees, perhaps a squirrel spooked them. Learn to identify the sounds you hear, it all works together in nature and I believe the animals warn each other. Squirrels have a distinctive shrieking type of alarm they sound. They have good eyesight so try not to make big movements.
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Old October 26, 2012, 04:56 PM   #11
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Public land squirrels like public land deer are well educated. Early mornings right after sunrise and late afternoons right before sunset is when they are most active. They also take longer to come outta hiding after being spooked then their less pressured cousins on private land. Wear camo or clothing that blends in and sit still for half an hour in a likely lookin' spot. If you hunt with a buddy sit on opposite sides of a tree with your backs together and watch twice as much territory. Many times if you let one forage unmolested for a while others get antsy and come out to, whereas if you take the first available shot the others stay hidden for another half hour. When you spot and lose one in a tree, have one hunter stay put while the other hunter walks around the tree. This will make squirrels hiding on the opposite side of the tree trunk expose themselves to one of you.

Last edited by buck460XVR; October 26, 2012 at 05:29 PM.
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Old October 26, 2012, 05:01 PM   #12
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Great advice given so far.
One other thing the my father taught us, and has mostly rang true is this.
If you live in town, watch the squirrel activity. On any given day, if the city squirrels are active, so will be the county squirrels.
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Old October 26, 2012, 08:53 PM   #13
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Patience would be my best suggestion. Squirrels can be dumb, but they're not that easy to hunt. That's what makes it fun. If you're quiet and can sit for a while, you can usually get some.
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Old October 26, 2012, 09:02 PM   #14
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Look for food sources. Walk slowly. They are abundant, find where they feed. Be quiet and sit still till they move. Squirrel is a fun and tasty quarry. I started using an RWS 350 .22. (Air guns are legal in mass), tried the .22 lever and the 12 gauge black powder shotgun. Back to the air rifle. ( Accurate, quiet and deadly.
Whatever you choose, be patient. They may stop moving if they see or hear you. Sit tight without moving. Give em 10 minutes or more, they will make their move again.
Once you locate one, stop. Listen and look. Usually I find many in a small area. If they are cutting nuts, once you shoot one, the others will quickly return to their business allowing more shots. If they run off, wait, they will usually return to their favorite trees.
Good luck and happy hunting.
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Old October 26, 2012, 09:20 PM   #15
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I used to hunt them in Kentucky.

Best time for me was early in the morning. I tried to get into the woods before daylight.

I would find a stand of hickory trees and just wait. About sun up they would start to cut the hickory nuts. You could hear them and then scan the trees looking for some movement of the leaves in a vertical line as the cuttings fell.

Follow that line to the origin and that is where you will find the squirrel.

Another trick is to look toward the sun in the trees and look for a halo effect you will find when the sun shines through the fur. Once you have seen it, you will never forget it.

Listen for the sound of them bounding through the tree tops.

They are fair game except on the ground or when they get to their nests.

I killed a squirrel by shooting into the nest and I have thought about it for over 50 years. Just don't do it.

Shooting squirrels in the nest is like shooting a covey of quail on the ground.
It just isn't sporting and it should not be done.

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Old October 26, 2012, 09:50 PM   #16
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Try deer hunting. You will see lots of squirrels then.
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Old October 27, 2012, 10:08 AM   #17
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The reason we see more squirrels deer hunting is we are willing to sit still longer when we are deer hunting. As far as time of day goes, in mild weather they are more active early morning and late afternoon. If the weather really gets cold, especially if it is windy, they don't come out much, and when they do it is mid-day. A good time to hunt them in the winter is the first warm day after a cold snap. As for location, look for hickory trees with cuttings on the ground. They eat a lot of acorns too, but leave less evidence. The skills you develop hunting squirrels will help you be a better deer and turkey hunter if you decide to give those species a try.
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Old October 28, 2012, 10:04 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Magnum Mike
Try deer hunting. You will see lots of squirrels then.
Good point. I've never had any problems finding squirrels on a decent piece of land with oak trees. It's more a matter of patience and learning how to recognize the kind of thick, vine laden hollows they favor.

Another thing to remember---don't go loaded for bear when hunting squirrels. As a kid, I couldn't wait to graduate from the single shot H&R .410 my father wisely chose as my first gun to a 30" barrel 12 ga pump (plug removed). But I found this gave me an almost unfair advantage. For real fun during squirrel hunting, stick to a simple single barrel shotgun (20 ga is plenty)or .22 LR, or better yet, a .22LR pistol assuming you can hit with it. You'll have to be on your game to keep up if you come across a gang of squirrels, working overtime to get in your shots! Can be challenging.

Although I've haven't often used this during hunting, I sometimes imitate a squirrel bark (rather well actually!) and I seem to have drawn tame city squirrels behind my house to investigate me in a way they wouldn't normally numerous times, meaning my calls worked to an extent. One time I think I even had one rather angry at me, as if I was challenging him!! So you could work on your barking.
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Old October 28, 2012, 02:26 PM   #19
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You've gotten a lot of good tips already. I'll share a couple of mine, which were passed down by my grandfather. He was always insistent that we get to the edge of the woods before daylight and we'd move into the woods a very short ways and then sit with backs to trees. Naturally, the woods I'm talking about were the woods where we already knew the squirrels would be. With luck, by first light there wouldn't be much wind. Any vigorously moving limbs were usually because there were squirrels either traveling or finding and munching acorns. If you can't shoot from where you are, move as quietly as possible to within shooting range. Unless you're great at sneaking, they'll spot you and lay on a limb until they think the danger is past. Grandpa and I would then sit down again, wait a short while and then he'd start flicking the small pebbles or acorns, that he'd gathered previously, into the dry leaves. That seemed to convince the squirrels that the danger was past and that other squirrels were feeding, and they'd come out then to get their share of the chow.

As for weaponry, he always used his Model 12 Winchester full choke and number 6 or 7 1/2 shot. These days, I'll use his shotgun or my Model 39A Marlin 22LR.
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Old October 28, 2012, 02:30 PM   #20
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You'll spook the squirrels less, if you use subsonic 22 LR hollowpoints, because of the low report. Assuming that the place is not shot out for squirrels ---- look for fox squirrels along streams and rivers --- because thats how they migrate --- especially along the adjacent mountain sides and slopes. Grays could be anywhere. Hunt early and late.. because gray squirrels are afraid to come out during daylight, between morning and evening; because of red tailed hawks. Adult Fox squirrels, because of there large size, don't seem to be too afraid of the hawks.

Fox's...tend to love to rummage amoung the fallen fall leaves, thus making alot of noise. Grays are much quieter and skittish...that love to run on fallen timber, on the forest floor.

If you can afford it...use turkey loads, #6 shot, if you prefer to hunt fox squirrels with a shotgun; because they are very tough to kill.

Last edited by Erno86; October 28, 2012 at 02:46 PM.
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Old October 29, 2012, 09:17 PM   #21
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If you can find a good dog, Terriers seem best, that tolerates gunfire, you can walk him through the woods and he'll spot squirrels for you. You'll see him staring at a spot, follow his gaze and you'll likely see a squirrel hugging a branch. I've hunted squirrels all kinds of ways and using a dog produces more and lets you walk and talk. A good squirrel dog is worth his weight in dumplings.
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Old October 29, 2012, 09:52 PM   #22
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Way back when I was in grade school went duck hunting w/ neighbor. Brought home 3 nice fox squirrels.

Hunt after a couple days of wet weather. Much of the east will be good about Thurs?? or so. They will be holed up when the rain and high winds are blowing. Hunt first nice day after she quits if you can get out.
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Old November 1, 2012, 03:01 PM   #23
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Magnum Mike is right on the money. Just find yourself a semi clear area in the woods and sit.
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