Springs Squirrel season is a “oddball” season available in certain states (especially many of the Southern states) that few hunters take advantage of. The primary reason that so few hunters take advantage of Spring Squirrel hunting seems to be because of the heat and/or competition with time spent fishing. The other factor is because Spring squirrel hunting can be quite difficult due to the amount of available cover in the woods as well as limited movement of the squirrels due to the heat. For Spring squirrel hunting, you will find most of the movement before 10 am and during the last hour of light. Much of the food that the squirrels consume this time of year is found in the trees, therefore, squirrels are not on the ground raiding their caches of acorns like they are in the Winter. In my home state of Tennessee, for example, some of the old timers refer to Spring Squirrel season as “Mulberry season” since the squirrels can often be found hitting the mulberry trees.
Since hunting Urban, Suburban and semi urban squirrels is almost an entirely different type of hunting than woods squirrels, I will address these separately.
Urban Squirrels exhibit a very high tolerance for human activity and often do not perceive you as a threat unless you get very close. Because urbanites often only have encounters with neighborhood and park squirrels, they conclude that squirrel hunting must be a very easy task. True, hunting backyard squirrels can be relatively easy, though, you should check your local ordinances and state laws regarding the discharge of rifles, shotguns and air guns before hunting in this setting. Likewise, your state game laws still apply unless of course you are killing squirrels for depredation reasons, in which case, you should check your state game laws dealing with that particular matter.Chances are, if you are hunting backyard squirrels within city limits, you will be using a air gun. Your childhood BB Gun is hardly sufficient for this task. You will need a airgun capable of the following feet per second speeds:
575fps – 8.2gr pellet
435fps – 14.5gr pellet
Ethical range of 20-30 yards.
Many experienced air gun hunters consider this to be the absolute minium specs for hunting small game. Realistically, 750+ fps is what you need and 1200+ is ideal. The grain of the pellet is almost as much of a consideration as the FPS rating. Take note that the cost of a airgun capable of ethically killing squirrels may be less expensive than a cheap .22 caliber rimfire rifle. Yes, you read that correctly: You’re $40 BB Gun is not suited for hunting. If you have no background with airguns or airgun hunting, you will need to do further esearch on the subject.
Rural Squirrels live in a entirely different realties than your backyard squirrels as they are potential prey for a host of predators and perceive humans every bit the same threat as a Bobcat or Hawk. Because of this, stalking up on squirrels can be a very difficult task. Add to the complications of Spring Squirrel season the fact that the squirrels have an immense amount of cover which they can easily disappear into, and you’ll find your best bet is to either sit still, or have a clear path or creek bed that on which you can silently walk .For hunting in the Spring woods, a shotgun is really best weapon for the task as it is very difficult to get off clear shots with rifles due to the amount of available cover. .410s are sufficient, 20 gauges are fine as are 12 gauges. You will find varying opinions on the matter of pellet size, but you should keep in mind that Squirrels have very tough hides. My personal preference is for a minimum of #6 shotsize.
You might also consider different choke tubes. Some hunters I know have experienced tremendous success using turkey chokes and aiming for the tips of their noses. Note that this is not ideal for shots that are extremely close, say inside of 10 yards.
States with Spring Squirrel seasons (note: any information should be cross referenced with the respective state agency.)
Alaska (no closed season)
Arizona (zone dependent)
Recipe: Squirrel Hunter’s Breakfast.