Blog / Hunting for Squirrels with a Shotgun: Tips and Techniques

By Connor Thomas
Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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Squirrel hunting with a shotgun can be an exciting and rewarding experience for hunters of all levels. Whether you're a seasoned outdoorsman or just starting out, understanding the nuances of this pursuit can greatly enhance your success in the field. Here are some tips and techniques to help you make the most of your squirrel hunting adventures.

1. Choosing the Right Shotgun and Ammunition

When hunting squirrels with a shotgun, the most commonly used gauges are 12, 16, or 20. The choice depends on your personal preference and comfort level with the recoil. A 20-gauge shotgun is often preferred for its lighter weight and reduced recoil, making it ideal for maneuvering through dense woodland areas where squirrels are abundant.

For ammunition, select smaller shot sizes such as #6 or #7.5. These sizes provide adequate power to take down squirrels without overly damaging the meat.

2. Scouting and Locating Squirrels

Before heading out, scout your hunting area for signs of squirrel activity. Look for nests in trees, chewed nuts on the ground, or listen for the rustling of leaves. Squirrels are most active during early morning and late afternoon, so plan your hunt accordingly.

3. Choosing the Right Time of Year

The best time to hunt squirrels with a shotgun is during early fall when squirrels are busy gathering nuts for the winter. This period allows you to capitalize on their increased activity levels and makes them more predictable in their movements.

4. Techniques for Shotgun Squirrel Hunting

Still-Hunting: Move slowly and quietly through the woods, stopping frequently to scan for movement or listen for squirrel chatter.

Calling: Mimicking squirrel distress calls or using a squirrel call can attract curious squirrels within range of your shotgun.

Ambushing: Position yourself near known feeding areas or travel routes, such as between a squirrel nest and a grove of nut-bearing trees.

5. Field Dressing and Handling Game

Once you've successfully harvested a squirrel, it's important to field dress it promptly to preserve the quality of the meat. Use a sharp knife to carefully remove the skin and entrails, taking care to avoid puncturing the internal organs. Rinse the carcass with clean water and store it in a cool place until you're ready to cook it.

Hunting squirrels with a shotgun requires patience, skill, and knowledge of the animal's behavior. By choosing the right equipment, scouting effectively, and employing proven hunting techniques, you can increase your chances of a successful hunt.

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In summary, squirrel hunting with a shotgun is a time-honored tradition that offers both challenge and reward. With the right approach and preparation, you can enjoy a memorable hunting experience while honing your skills in the great outdoors.