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Squirrel Hunting Questions

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Story and photos by Jeff Kurrus

Ask yourself these questions before squirrel hunting this season.

What’s Cutting?

This is a squirrel hunter’s most effective knowledge base. If a hunter knows what a squirrel is eating and at what time, then their success increases exponentially. In Nebraska, squirrels eat a variety of nuts, including acorns and walnuts. A quick midday scout through the woods will reveal what nuts squirrels are cutting at a particular time, as remnants will be scattered on the ground.

Partner or Alone?

There’s no quieter way to hunt squirrels than hunting alone. Plus, you’re able to stalk or sit for however long you desire with no one else to cater to. However, hunting with a partner is fun. It gives you another set of eyes in the woods and, if a squirrel happens to move itself to the opposite side of a tree, you and your partner can take turns playing dog by walking to the opposite side of the tree in an attempt to get the squirrel to move again. Without a squirrel dog, a partner is the next best option.

Photo by Jeff Kurrus.

.22 or Shotgun?

The jury is always split on this subject, because both have so many advantages. Hunting squirrels with a .22 allows the hunter more range and prepares them for hunting deer with a firearm later in the season. A scoped Ruger 10-22 has improved my rifle accuracy considerably after practicing during many squirrel seasons. Plus, an accurate shot to the head will assure no meat is ruined. However, hunters must always assure there is a safe background due to the extreme distance (more than 2,000 yards) that a .22 bullet can travel if unimpeded.

Shotguns are great guns for kids to learn with, and with a full choke, head shots are attainable at short range. The only drawback is range itself. I’ve always tried to keep my shotgun range at less than 30 yards, while my rifle limit is around 40. I can shoot squirrels farther than that, but I worry about bullet accuracy much past that range regardless of weapon.

Photo by Jeff Kurrus.

Morning or Evening?

Great days can be had at both times. The advantage morning hunts have is allowing you to enter the woods in the dark and get hidden before squirrels start moving. In the afternoon, slow walks through the woods can be effective as squirrels become displaced if taken by surprise. They’ll run up the closest tree they can. Quite often you can wait them out.