Squirrel Season Opens August 1
Nebraskas 2005 squirrel season opens August 1 and hunters across the state are already preparing to be in the woods at dawn to participate in the first day of the season.
Though Nebraska has both fox and gray squirrels, the fox squirrel is most common and is found throughout the state. The gray squirrel is found in extreme eastern Nebraska, mostly in the hardwood bluffs along the Missouri River.
Fox squirrels are typically reddish-yellow or orange-yellow with a mixture of gray on the back, sides and upper parts. Seen from a distance, they look reddish-brown on the back and sides with a lighter-colored belly.
Adult fox squirrels weigh 1 ½ - 3 pounds. They average about 25 inches long, and about 12 inches of their overall length is a bushy tail.
Hunters should look for squirrels in areas where there are plenty of tall, mature hardwood trees. Such trees are usually located along stream courses and often near crop fields. Find the hardwoods, especially those adjacent to a cornfield, and chances are youll find good squirrel hunting.
Squirrels love all kinds of nuts with acorns, walnuts and hickory nuts being among the favorites. Corn is their second choice and a hunter could do a lot worse than to pick a place to sit along a fence row between a stand of hardwoods and a cornfield. The hunter will have plenty of action when the squirrels leave home in the morning to go shopping for a little corn to put up for the winter. Later in the year, when the groceries are getting low, a hungry squirrel might even munch on an osage orange or two to help it get through lean times.
When a squirrel goes house hunting, it looks for a suitable den tree. The best sites are in old trees at the spot where a limb has rotted and broken away. To a squirrel that hole in the tree trunk looks like a real “fixer-upper” and it sets right out to develop it to its full potential. When its done remodeling, the door, or entrance hole, will be about three inches in diameter, and the interior will be a cavity 1 ½ - 2 feet deep and six to seven inches wide. Thats all the room needed for reproduction, shelter, and to escape from enemies.
In additions to dens, squirrels often use leaf nests built high in tall trees that consist of leaves and twigs piled in the fork between a couple of branches. The nests are used as escape cover and as nurseries in the spring.
Squirrels are an excellent game animal wherever they are found, and, in many eastern states they are very important to hunters. They are a fairly small target, are very quick and can be difficult to spot, especially early in the year when there is still a large amount of vegetation hides them from view.
Some of the squirrels appeal is that they can be hunted in a variety of ways with different kinds of equipment. Hunters can spend the day strolling slowly through the woods watching for squirrels as they travel, stalk them like deer once one is spotted, or sit back against a tree near a fence line or den tree and wait for the squirrel to show itself.
Some squirrel hunters use a .22 caliber rifle for squirrel hunting, while others prefer to use a shotgun. A few chase squirrels with a bow and arrow, and some shoot them with small-caliber handguns.
The great thing about squirrel hunting in Nebraska is the long season and liberal bag and possession limits. This years season will be a full six months long, August 1 - January 31. The daily bag limit is seven, the possession limit is 28 squirrels.
Before heading out to hunt squirrels, you can purchase a 2005 Nebraska hunting permit and Habitat Stamp online from the Game and Parks Commissions web site at www.outdoornebraska.org, from a Game and Parks office or any of some 900 permit vendors across the state. All residents 16 years of age and older who hunt small game and waterfowl must have a Nebraska hunting permit and a Nebraska Habitat Stamp. All nonresident hunters, regardless of age, must have a Nebraska hunting permit and a Nebraska Habitat Stamp. The resident annual hunting permit costs $12, a nonresident annual hunting permit is $68, and the Nebraska Habitat Stamp, is $13. Also pick up a free copy of the 2005 Nebraska Hunting Guide which has information about hunting regulations and public hunting lands across the state.