The way to Hunt Squirrels within the Winter

squirrel rut

Heads Up: Count on winter squirrels to go away their dens and develop into energetic at midmorning.. Dan Callister/Alamy

Once I was a child, my favourite place to be in winter was on the hardwood ridges behind my neighbor Ronnie’s home, with my .22 rifle in hand. Ronnie liked fried squirrel, and filling his skillet was my charge for accessing the selection woods through his yard. However he was choosy. He wouldn’t take outdated squirrels, and he didn’t put up with sloppy marksmanship. One morning I knocked on his door and proudly confirmed off a restrict of grays—all hit by means of the physique. He turned them down flat. “Head pictures solely,” he mentioned.

I shortly discovered that the winter woods, when squirrels are in a frenzy over making extra squirrels, would supply loads of alternatives for head pictures if I used to be affected person. Just a few mornings later, I knocked on ­Ronnie’s door with six head-shot grey squirrels in hand. He nodded and took them, and my toll was paid. I might maintain searching behind his home.

I don’t know what number of lots of of days I’ve spent squirrel hunting since then. I do know that head-shooting a restrict with a rimfire rifle is tough sufficient that I’m nonetheless fairly proud once I can handle to tug it off. I additionally know there’s no extra productive time to strive it than on a sunny day in December.

The place and The way to Hunt Late-Season Squirrels

As soon as the arduous mast falls to the bottom, the squirrels descend from the treetops together with it. Anybody who’s ever sat in a deer stand on a hardwood ridge has seen and heard the chaos firsthand. The identical ridges that have been lined in squirrels throughout deer season are effective locations to go squirrel searching in December. A lot of the livid work you see whereas deer searching is by squirrels storing caches of meals that they’ll revisit all through winter.

Sitting in your stand after deer season together with your .22 in hand can positively work. The truth is, it’s downright satisfying to precise hell on all these rodents that sounded an excessive amount of like Boone and Crockett bucks marching by means of the leaves.

I favor to hunt from the bottom, although, the place I can transfer. Throughout a great mast yr, squirrels will proceed foraging and storing meals caches for so long as the climate permits. You’re prone to see squirrels on nearly any ridge, however late within the season, some spots can have extra nuts remaining than others—and that’s the place the motion might be. I like to slide from one ridge to the following and sit on every for a half hour. If squirrels are round, it received’t be lengthy earlier than you hear or see them.

Why Searching Squirrels Throughout Winter is a Good Thought

Wintertime squirrel hunters have greater than nuts going for them, and that’s the warmth of the squirrel rut. Grownup grey squirrels breed twice per yr, as soon as in winter and once more in late spring. The percentages of seeing a trophy boar bushytail dogging a late-season sow across the base of a giant oak are excessive. Once you do, keep in mind this: Hold your cool and all the time shoot the decrease one first, to forestall it from falling previous the opposite one. Try this, and also you’re all however assured a shot at each critters.

Selecting a great day to hunt is straightforward. Go when the climate is nice. Heavy snow, freezing rain, or sub-20-​diploma temperatures are all good causes to not go squirrel searching now as a result of likelihood is, the squirrels will keep of their dens. Calm, sunny days are finest. You needn’t get up earlier than daylight to hunt, both. One of the best motion is normally round midmorning, after the frost burns off.

The Finest Rifles For Searching Squirrels

You’ll be able to kill loads of squirrels with a shotgun late within the yr—however you’re lacking out on a fantastic problem for those who’re not toting a rifle. Dry, fallen leaves and open timber could make stalking near squirrels foraging on the bottom considerably tough, however that’s half the enjoyable. Merely transfer when the squirrel has its head buried within the leaves, or each time it goes behind a tree. I grew up utilizing saplings for rifle rests, however today, collapsible Primos Set off Sticks are robust to beat.

Learn Subsequent: The 17 Best Squirrel Guns Ever

My squirrel rifle is a Marlin 880 SS, and it’s the identical bolt-action .22 with the identical fastened 4X scope that I’ve been utilizing since I used to be a child. I can nonetheless hit a squirrel within the head with it at 40 yards. Some hunters use extra specialised gear to shoot from longer ranges. My buddy Ricky King might be essentially the most devoted squirrel hunter I do know, and he totes a CZ .17 Mach 2 with a high-powered scope. He likes to sit down on excessive ridges and use that rifle to select off squirrels from 100-plus yards.

For the reason that goal on this sport is to have enjoyable, it doesn’t matter whether or not you like to sneak in shut or shoot squirrels from afar. You’re seemingly to achieve success. However if you would like the most effective squirrels for the skillet, my recommendation is identical as Ronnie’s: Head pictures solely.

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