Your deer season is over and you have settled in for the winter. It's a
great time for laying around, watching football and
maybe working a little overtime to keep the boss off your back when the turkeys
are gobbling and the crappies are moving into shallow brush this spring. The
coffee table is littered with "Outdoor Life," "Field & Stream" and The
Sportsman's Guide catalogs, and thoughts of the past hunting season are still
fresh in your mind.
How about leaving the comfort of the house and give squirrel hunting a try? Hunting squirrels can be
a very relaxing activity after sitting motionless in a tree waiting for the
elusive whitetail. Those long hours on stand should give you an idea of where
the squirrels are hanging out. This is also a good time to reverse this
scenario and use your day afield to locate some great stand locations for next
A comfortable backpack is essential for squirrel hunting. You need enough
room for your calls and a thermos of hot coffee if you drink it. A lunch is
important in cold weather, too, especially if you plan to hunt all day. Late season
usually means very few hunters afield allowing you to wander freely and explore
your hunting area while providing you with some great game for the dinner
table. If you do wander deeply into the woods, far from the truck, that thermos
of coffee, lunch and a good book or magazine will come in handy when the
squirrels go inactive. And unless you plan on trekking back to the truck, then
these items will make your wait much more enjoyable!
Late Season: Spot And Stalk
Late season usually means the breeding season is over and squirrels usually
don't travel far from home as they feed on the stockpile of nuts they buried in
the fall. For this reason, spot and stalk is usually the best way to harvest
these tasty critters. Squirrels can be hard to see at this time because they
are digging in the leaves for previously buried nuts. Since the nuts are buried
close together, and in large quantities, movement is kept to a minimum
therefore adding to the difficulties in spotting them.
You may hear a squirrel rummaging in the leaves, if they are dry, and even
though you know the squirrel is just ahead, you just cannot locate it. A good
set of low power binoculars come in handy for spotting squirrels that are
digging. The leaves tend to surround the squirrel, while it is digging in
search of nuts, making it difficult to see.
This time of year, squirrels are very skittish, as breeding subsides and
hunting pressure continues, and sneaking up on a squirrel takes patience.
Late-season tactics oftentimes does not include calling. The squirrels are just
too close to their den and tend to bolt right to their hole at the first sight
or sound of danger.
However, there are times during the late season, that
a call may help when used sparingly. If you can hear a squirrel digging for
nuts, but just can't see it, hit the distress call. The desired effect would be
a quick jump on the side of the tree as it glances back at where the sound
originated. Be ready and shoulder that rifle or shotgun quickly or it will be
gone. A good time to use this method of calling is when you know the squirrels
are out and about and the sun is fast sinking. It is better to take a chance on
getting the squirrel to present a shot than to spend the last waning minutes
waiting it out. Call and watch for a shot then move on to the squirrels you can
plainly hear digging. Finding some on higher ground will give you more daylight
to work with.
If cabin fever has you down and the chores around the house are piling up,
get out and explore for a new area to hunt or return to where you spotted
squirrels during deer season, and enjoy your time in the woods.
Squirrel hunting is a great way to introduce young people to the world of hunting and can be a
great way to spend the day with family, too!
Shop The Sportsman's Guide for a fine assortment of
Upland/Small Game Gear.