When turkey season is over, most hunters trade their shotguns for fishing rods, or the chance to catch up on chores at home. But the hunting season isn’t over. Most hunters don’t realize that several states allow spring squirrel hunting. It provides some of the most fun and exciting shooting opportunities of the year. If you haven’t tried it, here is how—and where—to pursue spring squirrels.
Extend a Timeless Tradition
Hunting squirrels in the timber is how many of us start our hunting careers. Outside of deer hunting, squirrel hunting continues to be among the most popular of pursuits. The more you can get a new hunter in the woods, the better. And if you have a squirrel dog, this is an obvious way to keep that cur, fiest, or Laika sharp. Also, the memories made while squirrel hunting with your son or daughter are priceless, and the spring season allows you to make more of those. They are the moments we cherish and look back on, so why not do more of it? Squirrel hunting is the perfect first hunt for any kid or newbie hunter, and the spring season is a great time to make it happen because you’re not competing with any other hunters for a spot in the timber. The turkey hunters are gone and the deer hunters won’t return for several months, so the woods are all yours.
Spring Squirrel Habits
Spring squirrel season will look much like the early fall season. Leaves will be back on the trees in late spring, so you’ll have to use your eyes and ears to locate furry targets tucked into the heavy foliage—it’s a fun challenge.
Also like the fall season, spring squirrels can be found searching for food in the early and late hours of the day. However, a squirrel’s feeding patterns will be slightly different in the spring. You won’t find squirrels in the treetops cutting on hickory nuts just yet. Rather, they’ll be feeding on soft mast food sources, buds, berries, or on the ground, searching for leftover nuts. Key in on these potential food sources near squirrel dens or nests, particularly near a water source, and you should have plenty of action.
Play the Weather
Squirrel hunting in the spring can be difficult due to warm temperatures. The heat is tough on the squirrels as well as hunters and dogs. They’ll move early and late when temperatures are cool. That’s when you should be making your move as well. Key in on potential hotspots, get in before daybreak, and be ready when the action unfolds. Squirrels will make their move again in the afternoon as temperatures begin to drop before dark. Don’t miss the opportunity to beat the heat and bag your squirrels in the first and last hour of the day.
Warmer temperatures in the spring squirrel woods also means the potential for doing battle with snakes, ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, and poison ivy. Make sure you’re on the lookout for rattlers and be prepared for the bugs with various replants.
Shotgun vs. Rimfire
Shotgun or .22 rifle for squirrel hunting—it’s a never-ending debate. They both have their pros and cons, and when you commit to one, there will be times when you’ll wish you had the other. The shotgun can certainly help you do work on squirrels as they move in and out of the foliage. Shotguns are the perfect solution for the fast-paced action that squirrels tend to provide.
However, a scoped .22 rifle delivers when you’re trying to reach high into the treetops for a squirrel that’s holding tight to the limb. When hunting with friends, it’s best to have at least one hunter with a shotgun and another with a .22.
Read Next: The Ultimate Guide to Hunting Squirrels
Where to Go
There are opportunities abound in many states for squirrel hunting in the fall, but far fewer have a spring season for squirrels. Most of them are located in the south.
Here’s a look at the states that offer spring squirrel hunting opportunities. These season dates fare for 2021-22, and are subject to change in the future.
May 8 – June 13; Daily limit: 10
May 15 – Feb. 28; Daily limit: 12
June 5-19; Daily limit: 6
May 1-23; Daily limit: 3
May 15 – June 18; Daily limit: 6
May 22 – Feb. 15; Daily limit: 10
May 1-31 (East Texas)
Year-round remainder of state; Daily limit: 10
May 15 – Jan. 31; Daily limit: 25
June 1 – Feb. 28; Daily limit: 5