As a child I was introduced to hunting, more specifically squirrel hunting, at a very young age by my dad. The times I spent in the woods chasing these bushytails still hold some of my most memorable times as a hunter and as a child.
My shotgun of choice was an old single barrel 20 gauge bought at an auction by my dad for $15. I killed many squirrels with that shotgun and it is still an excellent small game gun today.
Eventually I upgraded to a Mossberg 500 pump, but I believe the single shot made me a better shot and a better, more patient hunter.
Like most kids my age living in rural America hunting and fishing was a part of our lives from a young age. Not only did we do it because we enjoyed it, but also because it provided much needed food for the table.
Today I still hunt squirrels. I still enjoy the taste of the meat, but it is not a necessity, instead I hunt for the enjoyment of the hunt.
As squirrel season approaches trees are still plentiful of their green leaves. Hunters who venture out early in the season will find it difficult to spot the small critters as they conceal their selves amongst the thickets of the tall trees.
Not only does the thick stand of leaves make the hunt difficult, but the heat of the day and the abundance of the mosquito make it almost unbearable to many hunters. Squirrels like to stay in their nest throughout the hot of the day, but for the hunter willing to try an early season squirrel hunt there are still plenty of opportunities.
As a young hunter full of energy I could combat all the obstacles of an early season squirrel hunt, but as I have got older, and maybe wiser I have come to the realization that the best time to hunt is from dawn and stay at it for a couple of hours before heading home. In the evening I will venture back out a couple of hours before legal shooting hours end and stay with it till legal shooting hours are over, until I have a limit or all I want for the day, whichever comes first.
I enjoy getting up early while my wife is still asleep, fill my thermos with coffee and head to the woods. My favorite place to set up is where there are many hickory trees in the very close vicinity. Once I find such a place I do not move from it. Actually, I do not have to find such a location very often during season. I have already gained permission from the landowners to hunt on their ground and have scouted out good locations before season much like a whitetail hunter does.
Squirrels will eat early in the morning before the sun starts to penetrate to the Earth’s surface with its rays. Squirrels love hickory nuts and will eventually show at your location if the hickory trees you are near are producing nuts.
It can be very discouraging to hunters when all they hear is the barking of a nearby squirrel that cannot be seen because of all the foliage. When this happens try getting a squirrel to come to you with the use of a barking squirrel call. When I first tried such a call I thought only deer hunters used such a gimmick, but now I do not leave home without one when hunting squirrels. Another use for the call is to use it after you have shot. This will often calm other squirrels down after being startled by the blast of your shotgun and will soon show their self again.
Because of the heat, even in the early morning hours, care has to be taken to ensure your kill does not spoil.
Depending on just how hot it is or if you will be home very soon, within 30 minutes or so when it is very hot, it is fine to do nothing with your kill to prevent spoilage until you return home. If I will be any longer than 30 minutes I like to field-dress the animal. This will help the meat cool and keep it in good condition. Another reason to field-dress the animal is that it likely has been gut shot if you are using a shotgun. This will quickly cause the meat to go rancid in the hot temperatures. I often carry 1-lietr pop bottles filled with water to wash out the cavity of a squirrel after it has been field dressed. If I do not have any water available, there is often a creek or pond nearby that I can use.
For the hunter willing to fight through the obstacles that an early season squirrel hunt provides there are possibilities of a successful hunt. I know that the cabin blues are setting in and I am ready to put down the fishing rod and head to the woods.
I have one last word of advice. Take a child or other non-hunter with you. There is no better way to introduce a new hunter to the sport than an exciting, action-packed squirrel hunt.