Squirrel Hunting 101: Tips and Techniques for Beginners

Julia Swoboda
Written by Julia Swoboda June 19, 2014

One of the best ways to get started in the outdoors and get accustomed to shooting is to go squirrel hunting. Squirrel hunting doesn’t require a lot of equipment and gear and, therefore, is a great beginners sport. With squirrel season being one of longest of any game animal (Late May to early February in Missouri), it serves as a great way to get out in the woods, practice your shot, and ultimately harvest some delicious meat. These little creatures are everywhere, but hunting them can be actually be very tricky. Here are a few tips to help.  

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  • Know how to identify different types of trees. This will come in handy because it is how you will know where to hunt.
  • Find a place where the squirrels are abundant. They hang out where food is, so trees like mulberry in the late spring/early summer and oak (acorns) and hickory (nuts) in the late summer/early fall.
  • While squirrels can be found any time of the day, the time they are most active is early to mid morning and late afternoon to dusk.
  • Not only are squirrels fun to hunt, they also make excellent eating. In my opinion, they taste somewhat like chicken, but with a hint of game taste. If you have ever tried wild rabbit, they taste a lot like that.
  • Like hunting any other animal, you must have a lot of patience. Some days you will see absolutely nothing, while other days you will limit out.
  • While the most popular gun to use is a .22, many people use shotguns. Personally, I prefer hunting with a .22 rifle. It is more challenging, is quieter, and is less likely to damage the meat if you have an accurate shot. You can also shoot at a longer range.
  • A shotgun offers a larger margin of error than a rifle and it can cut through the leaves better, however, shotguns are loud and you have a better chance of getting the shotgun pellets in the meat if your shot is off just a little.

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  • Aim for the head. This prevents damage to the meat.
  • There are two main ways to hunt- sitting and waiting for the squirrels, or stalking them. If you are stalking them, move slowly and quietly through the woods, taking two or three steps before stopping to scan the area. Keep a look out for branches moving and nut shells on the ground.
  • Remember that squirrels get spooked very, very easily. When walking in the woods, put your feet down gently and be sure to avoid stepping on sticks.
  • You will realize that you use your ears just as much, if not more, than your eyes when you are stalking the squirrels. The noise of a little squirrel running on the leaf-covered ground, or the sound of debris (such as nut shells) falling from trees is actually very easy to hear in a quiet woods.
  • Stand or sit up against a tree with the sun to your back. This makes it more difficult for the squirrels to spot you.
  • It is best to hunt when there is a minimal amount of wind. The limbs in motion make it difficult to spot squirrels.
  • Carry some small rocks in your pocket for when a squirrel hides around the opposite side of the tree trunk. Toss the rock to the side that the squirrel is on to trick the squirrel into thinking you moved to that side. Be ready to shoot, because the squirrel will move to your side.
  • Each state has a maximum number you can harvest in a day. In Missouri the daily limit is 10.
  • In Missouri, gray squirrels are the most common, followed by fox squirrels.
  • Squirrel hunting is a great way to start a child off hunting- they will learn hunting safety and conservation practices.
  • Wear neutral colors when in the woods, preferably camouflage if you have it.
  • Remember you will need your hunter safety card and small-game hunting license.  squirrel3

Good luck and have fun!

About The Author

My name is Julia Swoboda and I am a 22 year old outdoorswoman from a small town in the mid-eastern part of Missouri. I am a fishing enthusiast, but also love hunting anything from ducks to deer just as much. I also enjoy hiking and camping, as well as many other backwoods activities. Feel free to leave feedback on my blogs. I love connecting and talking with others who share the same passion for the outdoors!

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