Squirrel Hunting 101
Bushy tails….tree rats…. no matter what you call them, squirrels can provide a hunter with an excellent opportunity to get youth or the family hunting this fall. In recent years, squirrels have gone from being one of the most commonly pursued small game species in North America to today where only a fraction of sportsmen and women take advantage of the opportunity. The fact is, interest in small game hunting, in general, has declined over the last few decades, with fewer and fewer hunters pursuing upland game like quail, rabbit, and squirrels. Though everyone loves chasing big mature whitetails and gobbling turkeys, there is nothing wrong with a little squirrel hunting.
Squirrel Master Classic 2016 | Bone Collector Highlights
(Video) – The Squirrel Master Classic is a fight to the death… A knock down, drag out, yet brotherly squirrel hunting competition that we’re so honored to be a part of every year! After winner the 2015 Squirrel Master Classic, the Bone Collector Crew took home the Gamo Squirrel Master Classic championship trophy for the 2nd year in a row. Check out some of the Squirrel kills from the “Gamo Squirrel” show from Season 8!
Squirrel hunting does offer a few advantages that many hunters tend to overlook. For example, squirrel seasons tends to open earlier and stay open longer than many other game species. This fact alone should entice you to want to get out pop a few squirrels. Having the chance to hit the woods prior to opening day of deer season gives you a chance to freshen up your “stalk” game, and once deer season has closed you still have a chance to hit the woods and give your trigger finger a little more work before hanging it up for the year.
As hunters we all know that bringing more hunters up in our ranks each and every year is important to ensure that our hunting heritage continues for many generations to come. Squirrel hunting can be a great way to do just that. Squirrel hunting is a way to involve a youngster to the sport of hunting and is a perfect way to begin to teach them hunting ethics. The fact that squirrel hunting can involve constant movement, and more action without significant patience, makes it an interesting and fun introduction to the sport. If all of those facts weren’t enough to convince you to consider hitting the woods in search of squirrels this fall, here are three more points to help make the case; chasing squirrels will challenge even the most seasoned hunter, squirrels are absolutely delicious table fair and last but certainly not least, chasing squirrels is downright FUN!
Squirrel Hunting Methods
One of the best things about squirrel hunting is it is relatively simple to do and it doesn’t require a lot of equipment to get started. Knowing where to go and what to look for is half of the battle, and having a few simple items can help keep you comfortable and in the game this squirrel season.
The first thing that you need to know is that there are really two main ways to effectively hunt squirrels.
- Passive Squirrel Hunting – You can passively hunt them, which typically involves going to an area that has plenty of food and plenty of nest trees and sitting in wait for the squirrels to show themselves. Passively hunting squirrels is very similar to sitting on stand in wait of that big buck. It can be very relaxing and productive if you are in the right location. Often, when passively hunting squirrels utilizing a squirrel call, like Knight and Hale’s 4 in 1 is very effective and can help draw the squirrels out into view or trigger a call back and give you an opportunity to make a move. Passively hunting squirrels during the early summer months can be very effective, just be sure to have your Thermacell close by to keep the early season bugs off of you.
- Active Squirrel Hunting – The second and probably more common way to hunt squirrels is to actively hunt them. This tactic involves getting out and actively searching for squirrels. This is a great tactic to get youngsters out and involved in the hunt. Noise is not really a factor when actively pursuing squirrels, though you don’t want to be downright loud, you don’t necessarily need to be quite, which makes this method a great way to involve kids in the sport. Its low risk and high reward! Just be sure you and whoever you are hunting with have some solid hunting boots before entering the woods.
Weapons of Choice
Like most small game species, there is a wide selection of weapons that you can use to help put a few squirrels in the back of the vest. For many, this versatility in terms of weapon selection is what makes chasing squirrels so much fun! We all have heard stories or have memories of our pa taking us out in search of squirrels packing the ole’ .410, 20 gauge or .22. A small gauge shotgun or small caliber rifle like a .22 are great choices for putting squirrels on the ground, however, it comes with a cost. Squirrels are small, and it doesn’t take much to ruin most of the meat even with a small shot pattern or small caliber bullet. Luckily, today we have technology on our side!
All across the country, high powered air rifles are becoming more and more popular. Don’t let the title fool you, though they are powered by compressed air these guns offer enough knock down power to easily dispatch even the largest fox squirrel. With almost zero recoil, and an effective range that is comparable, air rifles have become the staple of the Bone Collector squirrel hunting crew.
In the world of air guns, GAMO Adult Precision Air guns have become the leader of the market. GAMO offers a high quality product for a very reasonable cost that is as reliable as any other product on the market. For squirrels and other small game, there is no better option that the GAMO Bull whisper or Maxxim. These air guns can fire a .177 caliber at 1300 feet per second, or a .22 caliber at 975 fps. This model feature the new IGT, gas piston system which offers more knockdown power and more range which is perfect for small game like squirrels. With an adjustable trigger and recoil reducing rail this baby can keep you hitting the bullseye each and every time. At the end of the day, more squirrels in the bag and more meat on the table is always a good thing and these air rifles will help you accomplish just that.
Bone Collector Maxxim .177
The new “BONE COLLECTOR” Maxxim .22 Cal Air rifle is designed in collaboration with Michael Waddell, Nick Mundt and Travis “T Bone” Turner of the “BONE COLLECTOR” TV series. This air rifle is not only incredibly powerful and able to shoot pellets up to 1300 (.177 Cal)/975 FPS (.22 Cal), but it has many special features that’ll set it apart from ordinary break barrel rifles with regular metal springs. The new IGT propulsion system (gas piston) delivers more knockdown power, more accuracy and less vibration. The new CAT (Custom Action Trigger) will allows users to adjust 1st and 2nd stages of the trigger independently; the Recoil Reducing Rail (RRR) is designed to absorb the recoil and increase the lifespan for your scope and the Shockwave Absorber (SWA) recoil pad dampens the shock giving you all day shooting comfort. This air rifle would be a great addition to any outdoorsmen’s collection.
Bone Collector Bull Whisper .177
The “BONE COLLECTOR” Bull Whisper.177 air rifle is designed in collaboration with Michael Waddell and Travis “T Bone” Turner of the “BONE COLLECTOR” TV series. The gun is built on a special hunter forest green composite stock with dark grey rubber grip inserts. The Bull Whisper is a new noise and muzzle blast reducer integrated into a bull barrel. The “Bone Collector” logo is prominently shown on the synthetic high-grade stock. It utilizes the advanced IGT (Inert Gas Technology) which drives the new .177 cal. Platinum Ballistic Alloy PBA hunting rounds at up to 1300 fps.
Swarm Maxxim .177 Cal
-Velocity: 1300 feet per second (fps) with PBA Platinum
-10X Quick- Shot technology enables you to shoot up to ten pellets without reloading
-Inert Gas Technology (IGT)
-Break Barrel: Single Cocking System
-Automatic Cocking Safety system
-Barrel: Fluted Polymer Jacketed Steel with WHISPER MAXXIM Technology
-Cocking Effort: 32 lbs
-Trigger: Two stage adjustable CAT (Custom Action Trigger)
Bow Hunting Squirrels
If you are really looking to increase the ante and make your squirrel hunt that much more of a challenge, then you can always consider leaving the Maxxim or Bull Whisper Game Air Rifle at the house and break out the Hoyt instead. Using archery tackle is an excellent way to hone your bow hunting skills prior to the start of deer season. Squirrels often present a difficult shot, with tight windows and a very small surface area to shoot at, so it goes without saying that chasing squirrels with you bow can certainly help make you a better shot.
If you choose to break out the Hoyt in search of squirrels, there are two things you need to ensure before hitting the woods. First, make sure you have plenty of arrows! Second, make sure you are using the best broadhead for the job. Squirrels don’t really require the same type of penetration that a 150” whitetail does. You don’t necessarily need a large diameter broadhead for the job. G5’s S.G.H model small game broadhead offers enough thump and cutting action to do the job. Squirrel hunting with archery tackle is a lot of fun, so if you decide to give it a try, make sure you are using the right broadheads for the job.
Best Spots To Hunt Squirrels
So, you have your Maxxim or Hoyt in hand and you are ready to hit the woods in search of squirrels, where do you go? Squirrels are often very common and very plentiful in most places, but that doesn’t mean you can go just anywhere and hit your limit. There are certainly a couple of areas that you can key in on, that will help you increase your odds of success.
Food sources are excellent places to start, and chances are you already have a few locations in mind. Ironically squirrels will utilize the same hard mast forages as white-tailed deer, which is one of the reason we have all been tricked by the sounds of squirrels walking in the leaves (come on, you know you have been a victim of the phantom deer!). Keying in on areas high in acorns, hickory nuts, or walnuts are productive places to hit. Actively or passively hunting these areas, will generate a high probability that there will be squirrels.
Squirrels live in hollow trees and nests that they build in the tree tops. Most of the time, they will nest in the same places that they forage, but this isn’t always the case. If finding a food source is proving to be more difficult that you might have planned, switch gears and start looking for nest or den sites. Keying in on these areas can help paint a clearer picture of what the squirrels in the area are doing. When hunting a den or nest location, using a squirrel call can be really beneficial. Squirrels are very vocal, more than you might think, and often using a squirrel call can help trigger a response and will many times cause squirrels to move in and investigate providing you with the perfect opportunity!
You went to nature’s grocery store in search of wholesome table fair, you put the Maxxim or Hoyt to work and have arrived back at home with a bag full of squirrels. Now what? Squirrel meat is a very delicious and lean protein that, when prepared correctly, can challenge even the best prepared back straps. The trick is in how you cook the squirrel. Many of us backwoods folk follow the “when in doubt, add bbq sauce and throw it on the grill” philosophy. While there certainly isn’t anything wrong with that most of the time, the fact is we often overcook the meat, and when it comes to wild game overcooking is typically the number one mistake the folks will make.
Slow cooking is the name of the game. Slow cooking not only allows for better flavor, it also tenderizes the meat better than any other method. The Can Cooker can be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to properly preparing squirrel for the table. Using the can cooker is so easy anyone can do it; all you need is to simply pour in your ingredients and add the can cooker to a flame a low heat until done. The next time you find yourself successful in the squirrel woods, try this simple squirrel recipe.
1 onion (chunked),
2 cups baby carrots,
2 golden potatoes (cubed),
2 Bell peppers (chunked),
garlic (to taste),
2 cups chicken stock,
salt & pepper (to taste),
up to 3 squirrels (skinned and gutted).
Put all of the vegetables in first with the squirrel on top, add enough chicken stock to cover the entire contents, and cook on high in the can cooker for 6 hours. ENJOY!
Chasing squirrels is an activity that everyone should try to take advantage of. Taking advantage of the opportunity to get outside, do a little hunting and put a little food on the table is what it’s all about and when you can have a blast doing it, it makes it that much more worthwhile!