"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Devious Squirrel Tactics
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

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 quiet.

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, tender.

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 more.

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.


All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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