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Don’t forget squirrel hunting

August 23, 2008 at 12:45 PM

SPRINGFIELD — Ask a former hunter why he or she left the sport, and you are almost certain to hear one or more familiar responses.

“There’s no place to hunt.”

“There’s too little game.”

“There are too many hunters in too small an area.”

“It got too expensive.”

Good reasons or not, all of them can be true, depending on what, when and where you’re hunting.

Right now, the people spending early mornings or late afternoons in the squirrel timbers seldom see another hunter. They are hunting game as challenging as it is plentiful. Along with generous bag limits, squirrel season is so long it spans three seasons — starting in the summer and ending up in January, when it’s full-blown winter. And, best of all, there are plenty of places to hunt, and they are free. Many Illinois state parks and wildlife areas are open to squirrel hunters.

If you have a young hunter who’s dreaming about bringing down a big buck, it’s a good idea to start him or her out on something smaller. Squirrel hunting gives a youngster some hands-on hunting experience.

Many of the same timbers that are teaming with squirrels are crisscrossed with deer trails. Squirrel hunting gives a young hunter the chance to get out where the wild critters live and learn about their habitat and daily movement patterns.

Still-hunting a squirrel timber — watching, listening, moving slowly and quietly — can bring about valuable skills when deer season rolls around. A hunter who isn’t patient, can’t sit still and wait for a good shot or isn’t calm enough to take steady aim probably isn’t going to do well the first time a deer shows up under the stand.

A deer hunter seldom gets more than one crack at the deer of a lifetime. For every trophy that goes on the wall, countless others were shot at and missed. Squirrel hunting gives young and seasoned hunters the chance to hone their shooting skills in a real hunting situation where there are lots of opportunities for success.

Unlike many outdoor pursuits, squirrel hunting is not equipment intensive. Most current or former hunters already have all the equipment they need. They can buy a hunting license and go squirrel hunting this afternoon.

Lloyd and I skinned out a lot of squirrels with a pocket knife while wearing blue jeans, T-shirts, work shoes and enough bug spray to keep the ’skeeters on the other side of the crick. A lot of us farm boys hunted squirrels with single-shot .22 rifles — bolt actions, with open sights.

Several of us have held onto those old rifles and the memory of what crack shots we were when every bullet in the gun was the last one.

If you think squirrel hunting doesn’t present much of a challenge, take your old rifle, about ten .22 shorts and go to the timber. You might catch a glimpse of why you started hunting in the first place.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Been out once to Green River earlier in the month.  Bring plenty of bug repellent.  Also, if you are hunting DNR land in the northern part of the state, you probably need to bring a shotgun and leave the .22 at home.  Most sites are shotgun only, so check first so you won’t be disappointed when you get there.

Also, many of these sites have an exception where you can use a rimfire rifle after dark for furbearers.  I’d love to see this exception extended to squirrel.  I suppose its a safety issue, but using a .22 in the dark when you can’t see as well or as far doesn’t seem any safer than using one in the day.  Just my two cents.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/23 at 02:04 PM

As a kid I have many fond memeories of hunting squirrels. My aunt would cook them for me and they were among the best tasting game you can ask for. I dont hunt them anymore, but my farm is full of them. Not sure why they arent hunted anymore, probably not enough challenge.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/23 at 05:57 PM

I still have a passion for hunting squirrels and go as often as I can.  I hunt mainly with a .22LR but have recently switched to the .17HMR.  It is important to get a head shot and even more important to know where the bullet will go before the shot, but it is fun.  I can reach out and touch the bushy tail at 100+ yards with a very good success rate but it does take patience! 

When I lived in Windsor, Missouri I bought a call called “Mr. Squirrel.”  By itself it does not stand out and many people threw them away out of frustration but along with the instruction tape I encoutered a gold mine that can only be experienced by the experience itself.  The first time I used that distressed call and the squirrels came running at me I was hooked.  I have seen them run across the woods over 100 yards away to attempt to scare the predator away.  Thay have come to within 10 yards and bark at me ready to kick my butt.  Sometimes it does not work and sometimes it does.  I have found that it is more effective after 10 AM.  So go sit under a hickory tree and shoot a few and then fill the bag with the call.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/26 at 08:12 PM

My son, father, and I usually take at least one trip to the woods to go squirrel hunting.  My son loves it, and it is a great bonding experience for the three of us.  My son being 7, my father being sixy something, and myself being thirtysomething.  Great times past and present.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/19 at 10:06 PM

I would love to take my son squirrel hunting but every DNR run piece of land shuts down small game (including squirrel)on Oct.1 when deer season starts. It drives me nuts (sorry for the pun) to hunt squirrels when the mosquitoes are still biting and the leaves are still full of trees.  Does anyone know of any public land I can take my son squirrel hunt on during the late October, early Nov. months or beyond?

Posted by Ramsey on 10/20 at 11:29 AM

Ever try Airguns? You can get a decent squirrel gun for under $200. You can use them in town without bothering neighbors, or in your deer stand without bothering the deer. Blinkers said that they’re not enough of a challenge. This is far from the truth. I have hunted them for years and found that they are very fast and agile.

Check out the squirrel hunt on my website.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/22 at 10:21 PM

I know this article is about hunting, but have you ever tried squirrel trapping?  Trapping may be a more effective way if you HAVE to get the squirrel, such as if it’s chewed its way into your house.  There’s a lot of great info on this How To Get Rid Of Squirrels page.  The best trap is a small cage trap baited with peanut butter.  If that doesn’t work though a 1000 fps air rifle is a great alternative.

Posted by Dan on 02/26 at 12:31 AM

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