The Squirrel Hunt: A Family Affair

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Now when most of you guys think about what kind of meat to add to a stir-fry, you probably run through the standard options. Venison, elk or maybe even waterfowl might come to mind. But when I think stir-fry, I know that I need to grab my .22 or shotgun and start looking for squirrels!

If you haven't tried squirrel, you are missing out. I know it is cliche, but the best way to describe it in my opinion is, you guessed it, chicken. The big problem with the little bushy tails is the fact that you need to harvest quite a few of them to make a substantial meal. They are great fun to hunt though. And they are just about perfect game to teach a young hunter the basics. You can hunt them in just about any way that you hunt big game: Spot and stalk, still hunting or making a stand and calling. I started off hunting them with a shotgun because of my hope of running across some rabbits at the same time. I would suggest starting a young hunter off hunting them with a .22 long rifle however because it will force them to take more time and put more focus into their shot. It will help teach them to focus on a spot on the target while shooting at an animal instead of just painting the target with a shotgun bead.

The best part of squirrel hunting is that it is a great way of getting the family together. There is not the pressure that comes along with other forms of hunting and therefore it is lends itself to walking side by side with a family member through the woods. It is a very relaxed form of hunting. You can take everyone with you, including members of the family that won't be hunting. The place that we normally hunt squirrels lends itself to an entire family gathering. It's a great opportunity for us to all get together and have some winter fun. We let everyone that won't be on the hunt know exactly the direction we will be going and we don't waiver from that game plan. The place where we park the trucks is in a big meadow where many a snow ball fight and snowman making contest have been conducted.

My favorite squirrel hunting technique is to slowly move through the woods, scanning for silent squirrels within range and to listen for distant squirrel chatter. The species of squirrel that I hunt most commonly is the red (or pine) squirrel. They are very vocal and this is a great way to locate them. I like to hunt once there is a nice layer of snow on the ground to make things a little quieter.

You never know what other types of game that you might see while on a squirrel hunt. I have had the opportunity to take countless other small game animals from foxes to coyotes. So the next time you want to get out there and hunt with the family, I suggest taking them on a squirrel hunt. You won't regret it.


groovy mike's picture

wow! that's a LOT of squirrels!

I admit that I have never eaten squirrel.  I like then little buggers.  I like watching their antics and the noisy little critters keep the woods from being boring while I take the long wait on stand for white tail deer to walk buy in the silence of the woods.  In fact, the big grays just look like tree climbing, bushy tailed cats to me.  I even urged people NOT to shoot them on my property.  But all that was BEFORE they got into my attic.  Now it is literally open season (the gray squirrel season opened in New York State today - September 1st, 2011 and there is no season on red squirrels in New York - they can be hunted any time of year without limit).  So - Shoot them, shoot them Elizabeth! 

I want no more squirrels within sight of the house!

Critter done's picture

Awesome Story

I use to go out with my Dad and Uncle but Dad is gone and my Uncle is just to old. But I want to thank you for the story cause it opens my eyes a little and now I'm going to call my sons up and plan an old fashion squirrel Hunt with them. We will also try squirrel stir fry.

Hawkeye don't take it personally,but you are lots younger than most of us probably and your stories always hit home when we were younger. Every time I read your stories I think of my pass with my lost Dad. It always makes me call my kids and get them out in the woods to hunt or fish. Thanks for the stories.    

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very nice story.  I too cut

Very nice story.  I too cut my teeth on squirrel hunting back in Vermont.  It was always the first season open, and the weather was pleasant enough that you were not going to drive a child away with below freezing temps.

Jim, alot of the guys I know back in Vermont would hunt them with a 22.  Rabbits also.  Alot of them were guys that had shot tons and tons of them, and did it for the challenge.  They figured it was alot tougher than a scatter gun.

gatorfan's picture


Thanks for the story!  This story definitely brings back memories for me.  Squirrel hunting is how I was indoctrinated into the sport of hunting in general.  I have fond memories of heading into the woods before light with my Grandpa when I was just a young boy.  At first I was just along for the experience but, as I got a little older, Grandpa started letting me take a shot or two.  In the woods in South Central Ohio, a red squirrel (fox squirrel to us) was a prize!  They were usually almost a half-size bigger than the gray squirrels.

Unfortunately for me, we can't hunt tree squirrels in Southern California for some reason.  While deer hunting, I have spent many mornings in a ground blind just wishing I could put an arrow in a big fat gray squirrel that won't quit chattering at me!  I would love to be able to take my boys on a squirrel hunt!

I do have a question though.  Is it common for most folks to use a .22 to hunt them?  What kind of rules do you give the young hunters?  Does the squirrel have to have a solid background (tree trunk)?  I am just curious because I can see issues with shooting at a squirrel up in a tree with a .22.  If there isn't a tree trunk as a background and the shooter misses, how far will that round go?  I'm not knocking it, just curious because I have read of this method on a couple of boards.


GooseHunter Jr's picture

Nice job!!  Squirrel hunitng

Nice job!!  Squirrel hunitng is a great way to get people into hunting.  I also like the effort of getting out nthere and finding some animals to chase when most hunting seasons could and would be closed.  Congrats!

ManOfTheFall's picture

This is how I got started in

This is how I got started in hunting. My best friend and his dad invited me to go with them. It took me a while to get my first squirrel but boy did we ever have a blast. This is also the first type of hunting I did with my two boys. It's definitely a great way to introduce someone into the sport of hunting.