When the question, “what is the best way to hunt squirrels,” is raised, my go to squirrel hunting tip is to think small. There are many, small squirrel hunting hotspots located all over the coastal parts of our country and knowing how to hunt squirrels on these plots of land will certainly have you harvesting your fair share of the little critters.
Early one morning, it sounds like rain dripping off the leaves still hanging to the branches above. But this is a clear, still morning, and there isn’t a cloud in the sky.
And then the drip-drip-dropping sound increases from another location in the big old pecan tree spreading above me. Yet another limb on the pecan tree provides this quiet but definite sound of something falling from above to the leaf litter below.
And then I hear a loud “pang” as something more solid falls and impacts the rusty tin roof of an old fallen-down tool house in the overgrown yard of a long abandoned home place I’m hiding myself in.
I believe it’s just about light enough for me to investigate the cause of the falling stuff. Just as I thought, the steady drip that sounded like rain drops was simply pecan hulls being dropped from above.
And there it is, the flick of a bushy tail high up on a branch. And then another tail flicking. Then a third tail is now racing along a massive limb.
So I slip the safety of my old .22 to off, and with as little movement as possible, I draw a bead on the closest squirrel I can see.
“Pop”, and the young squirrel is on its last trip down to the ground.
The next closest squirrel, another young one, makes a dreadful mistake when it peeks around a limb to see what I am and what I’m doing. Its curiosity works to my advantage, and I manage to knock this one off its limb. After this morning’s hunt, there will be some prime squirrel tails to trim out for bream flies for next spring. There will also be some prime squirrel in the skillet, too.
The third squirrel, well, I don’t know. It just disappeared.
Now, the best part of this little early morning squirrel hunt is that I was less than a half-mile from my house, an easy walk in the morning, and I followed my own squirrel hunting tip and was hunting a small little patch of woods which no other hunter ever seemed to be willing to bother with.
There are thousands of small, neglected places close to home that squirrels use to move from feeding location to feeding location, and where they catch some rest.
I will admit, it’s fun to go into the big woods far off to hunt. It’s interesting to walk long distances in state lands and big private tracts in pursuit of squirrels. It’s even fun to paddle long distances in the Mobile Delta looking for bushytails. However, there’s a lot to be said for thinking small and hunting little tracts of land and trees that don’t require so much effort to reach.
When it comes to hunting small for squirrels, there are a few places and situations that seem to almost always produce good results for small tract hunters.
There’s another benefit about squirrel hunting small, close to home places. If a squirrel hunter looks around and pays attention, it’s amazing how many really big deer tracks can be seen in some really small woodlots.
That might be something to keep in mind for deer season.
Squirrel Hunting Tip:Fencerows- Squirrel Highways
Just behind our chicken house lies a small one acre plot of mature hardwood trees. Even though this small plot is always full of young squirrels, it’s too close to houses for me to hunt. Every year, lots of young squirrels are born in the in this little lot, and when they expand their feeding territories by traveling the line of trees in the old fencerow which separates our property from the neighbor’s, they move far enough away from houses and folks for me to safely hunt them.
This fencerow, like many old, overgrown fencerows with big trees, is a squirrel highway. By stationing myself away from the houses which stand too close to the fencerow, I can wait for squirrels to make their way from one little tree lot to another somewhat bigger lot. It’s easy to find concealment in the fencerow, and the squirrels don’t pick up on my presence most days until it’s too late.
Squirrel Hunting Tip: Old Home Lots- Now Home for the Bushytails
Our part of the world is filled with old, abandoned home places. Many of these old places had fruit and nut trees planted long ago when folks still lived in the houses, and after the folks left for good, many of these fruit and nut trees remaine alive and still produce food for wildlife.
By asking permission, if the owners can be found at all, squirrel hunters can sometimes find very good squirrel hunting by working the old trees still growing around old home places.
Quite often the squirrels that live around these abandoned home spots never see a human and they can be very approachable. If the old home place, like the one I had such good luck with earlier in this article, has some old pecan trees remaining, a hot hunt is almost a sure thing.
Hunters will need to be careful walking around old home places. Sometimes wells were left unfilled, and there is often broken glass and old metal trash left around. But the good squirrel hunting makes a little caution worth the trouble.
Squirrel Hunting Tip: Old Pecan Orchards- Lots and Lots of Food
All over the Gulf Coast and inland for a good ways, pecan orchards were planted and harvested. Some of these old orchards are huge and cover many acres. Many times, the growers found the pecan trees to be not worth the effort and expense and were unprofitable. So they just neglected the trees, let nature take its course, and now half of the trees are dead and rotten, but some are still capable of producing pecans.
These old abandoned pecan orchards can support massive numbers of squirrels, and if the orchard is well off the nearest road, it may be unknown to many other hunters, and a good safe place to collect a few squirrels. And even if the orchard is somewhat overgrown, very often there’s enough open space between the old pecan trees to allow very good long distance sighting of squirrels.
For instance, not even a mile away from my house are two big old pecan orchards, and by positioning myself as far back from the highway as I can get and still be in the orchard, I’m able to safely take squirrels as they work the old pecan trees.
Again, hunters will need to obtain owner’s permission to hunt these pecan orchards. But if there’s no problem with accessing the old trees, some very fine squirrel hunting can occur, especially after the leaves fall off the trees. A bushytail can be seen a long way when the branches are bare in a pecan orchard.
Squirrel Hunting Tip: Birdfeeders and Back Lots
A final location for squirrel hunters who want to hunt smaller close to home yet productive areas for squirrels is perhaps the simplest of all, your own backyard.
Many rural residents have home lots which have two or three acres of land with trees to supply cover. Many of these home lots are basically unused ground, and perfect habitat for squirrels. And many of these larger rural home lots have nut trees which provide natural food sources for squirrels. Many more of these larger rural home lots have residents who enjoy feeding the birds and spending lots of money supplying birdseed for feathered friends.
A lot of these bird-feeding folks struggle on a daily basis with hordes of ravenous and aggressive squirrels which raid the feeders, chase off the birds, and gobble down the bird seed.
Some of these yard squirrels can get fat and sassy from the free stolen bird seed.
A lot of these bird-lovers would welcome the chance to have their population of bushy-tailed bandits thinned out a little, and squirrel hunters can do just that job. All hunters need to do is mention to friends and family that the squirrel problem can be corrected by having a dedicated squirrel hunter drop by and safely thin out the population.
Of course, hunters will need to make sure that no neighboring homes are close enough to present a safety hazard, and that means before a hunt, the hunter needs to walk the property and see for certain no buildings are close. Many non-hunters who might welcome a hunter to thin out the squirrels don’t realize the range of .22s and even shotguns, so the hunter must be sure.
But some of the fastest and best squirrel hunting can come from fat, sassy, spoiled squirrels who live in rural-home lot trees.
Collecting a mess of these bird-seed eating squirrels can be a quick, easy, very entertaining way to gather the makings for squirrel stew– and it can also relieve the minds of the yard birds, too.
This article first appeared in the January 2019 print issue of Great Days Outdoors Magazine. For more great hunting and fishing content for the deep South, subscribe to Great Days Outdoors print and digital editions or click the image to download this issue.