Squirrel Bounty

How not to get rich while hunting bushytails this fall.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

The squirrel woods are open for business. Business, you ask? The business of squirrel tail recycling, that is. For the last three decades Mepps, the fishing lure manufacturer, has paid top change for the tails of grey, fox, black and red squirrels alike. This year will be no different, with premium quality tails fetching up to 26 cents apiece.

Squirrel tails are used to dress the hook on Mepps's top-selling lure, the French spinner. Though other materials have been tried over the years, squirrel-tail hair outperforms them all.

"Mepps is only interested in recycling tails from squirrels that have been harvested for the table," says Mepps spokesman Jim Martinsen. "We do not advocate taking squirrels strictly for their tails."

How much can you make from a season's worth of hunting? Let's use Kentucky as an example. The fall squirrel season lasts 189 days and the daily limit is 6. If you shoot a limit every day of the season, that's 1,134 squirrels. Assume that each one has a premium tail and you're looking at just under $300-barely enough to cover your shells and gas.