With squirrel season coming up--August15 to be
exact--a squirrel hunting trick or two are very much in order. They are
based on the fact that the squirrel is a curious critter. They can’t stand
In each hypothetical case you are dealing with
a squirrel that has been spooked, somehow, one that is hiding on a tree--probably
a hickory--and escapes your view by using any one of the devious tactics
Mr. Bushytail uses. It’s all instinct for squirrels.
Let’s just say the squirrel saw you coming and
has taken refuge with the tree trunk or a large limb between you. What
do you do?
It all depends on how badly one wants that squirrel.
Before you do anything, remember that young squirrels tend to stay put
and hide in troubled times, old squirrels develop a tendency to change
their addresses in times of trouble. Thus, if you are dealing with a “stayer,”
one that hides, it probably is a young-of-the-year animal--good eating,
So you decided to stay, try to get a squirrel
you have not seen. Your best bet be is to determine if the squirrel, is
still there. If the squirrel is gone, all is not lost in waiting. While
you wait another may come, if other squirrels know of the tree.
Years ago I bagged I several squirrels, several
times from the same leaning hickory in a little bottom woodlot. I was hunting
the only hickory there. Often, as I approached, there would be multiple
squirrels on the tree, all eating. I could see the tree from only one spot
because of the under story, but I knew others would come, and some stayed.
So you are at the tree and there are fresh cuttings
(pieces of hickory nut shells) on the forest floor beneath the tree. You
watched the tree carefully on your approach. The squirrel--or squirrels--did
not leave. Indications are that there is at least one squirrel there--maybe
Now is the time for some strategy.
With gun in hand, find a spot where you can see
the possible “escape” avenues and a good general view of the tree, Incorporate
that with a comfortable place to sit a fair distance from the tree. The
more you can see, the better. It is important to be at least partially
hidden. Sit, or stand without movement, at least 10 minutes--longer if
possible. Have a nut or two in your pocket.
If that doesn’t bring action, quietly get out
a nut (in your pocket) and scrape the nut shell to produce a light, raspy
noise with your pocket knife. After a long spell of quiet this will often
cause a spooked squirrel to get active again.
Many years ago as a neophyte squirrel hunter,
I once ran into my dad using my rifle, and he shushed me while indicating
there was a squirrel very close. He cocked the rifle after removing his
knife and opening the blade. The squirrel--a nice young one--had been spooked
and was atop a low hickory limb almost out of view
The rifle was at his shoulder and trained on the
spot where he thought the squirrel’s head would be (if his plan worked).
“SCREECH . . . SCREECH” the knife blade on the
nutshell said, and the squirrel raised it’s head half an inch to see what
was making that noise. That was plenty for my dad.
There are, of course, many tricks that take spooked
squirrels, including the tried-and-partially-true tricks that require a
second person, or a length of grocers twine or fishing line.
In first case, you merely use a second person
to create noise on the opposite side of a tree, prompting the squirrel
to move to your side. In the second case--the grocer’s twine or fishing
line--is tied to brush on the far side of the tree and the brush is shaken
after a time of quiet. Both work at times.
A good squirrel dog will always stay on the far
side of a tree from the hunter, or where it can see the squirrel.