This segment is dedicated to my dad, who taught me almost everything that follows in the next 4 segments:
I decided it was time to write a segment on squirrel hunting. A start to finish how to. Granted I’m not the best. Maybe not even mediocre, but I have done it before. Naturally, the first place to start is… equipment.
My dad often said, “For deer hunting, all you need is a good rifle, a good knife, and a good pair of tennis shoes. And an orange vest.” The same can be said for squirrel hunting. Minus that orange vest part.
There are a few different weapons to choose from, so let’s look at them all and examine the advantages and disadvantages of each.
For when you just need something for the pot. I don’t use a shotgun much anymore because it’s not challenging, and it inevitably adds “mystery particles” to your table fair. “Mystery particles” are delicious lead shot for those who didn’t catch on. Aside from that, they are great for early season hunts when the leaves are still on and squirrles are hard to make out in the foliage. Only see a tail? No problem. Shoot and it will fall off the limb. Running away? No problem. Pretend you’re aerial gymnast rabbit hunting.
I prefer to use a 20 guage over a 12 guage, as it has fewer mystery particles to add to the squirrel, and the gun weighs less. I use 6 or 7.5 shot size, as it’s a good balance between killing power and mystery particles. I’ve use 4 shot before, but it caused a lot of broken bones. Choke size should depend on your shot distance. You can’t go wrong with a modified choke, but it may be wise to use a full during late season with 6 shot for longer shots. I’ve used a turkey choke in the past. It was overkill. Don’t recommend. My preference is #6 shot with a modified choke.
Stereotypical squirrel rifle. Not much to say here. It works and has worked for the past century. I grew up using a Browning .22 auto with a 4X scope. It worked just fine. I do have a few suggestions to offer. Use a scope. Preferably a 3-9X, as squirrles are easier to spot and with more magnification you’ll be more precise in aiming. Use a 40 yard zero. If you can see the squirel, you can simply place the crosshair on target, shoot, and you will generally score a kill regardless of range. Also, as in airguns, experiment with various ammo until you find the most accurate one. Use solid nose bullets with a scoped rifle. A hollow point causes a lot of unnecessary damage that will ruin meat. Use hollow point ammo in an open sighted rifle-they compensate the reduced accuracy with more damage. Finally, try using subsonic ammo (especially in a close breech rifle). The survivors will be less weary. You may also be surprised by their accuracy. My rifle would shoot less than a half inch at 40 yards with these rounds.
This is insanely challenging. Make sure you have an accurate handgun (scoped preferably) and can shoot it well. Use hollow point ammo, as the short barrel has reduced energy levels.
And finally, airguns…
The best for last. I recommend a suppressed .22 or .25 pcp for hunting. Why is a supressed pcp airgun the best? It kills as good as any of the above, has the right balance of effectiveness and challenge, and most importantly, it is silent. You can miss, and the squirrel you shot at will not even notice. It’s simply amazing.
I recommend going out in full camo, it gives you a little bit of an edge… sometimes. I have snuck up on squirrles in a gray t shirt and tan shorts several times. I also have had squirrles run off before I saw them while in full camo. Sometimes they’ll pay full attention to the least threat. Other times, they’ll be totally obvious to the most grim lead slinging danger you posess. On to the next topic….
Camo? We can debate that, but I strongly suggest you have a quiet shoe… such as an old pair of tennis shoes. Granted, I’ve popped a few in flip flops or crocs while stalking through the undergrowth in my pajamas, but it’s more important to be quiet than concealed. If they hear you coming, they’ll be looking or hiding before you even show up.
On to the next topic…