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5 Squirrel Hunting Tips for Summer Varmint Hunting

These five squirrel hunting tips will help you bag more varmints than you imagined.


Squirrel hunting is a great way to have a little fun in the woods while practicing your shooting skills at the same time.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to squirrel hunt, you’re missing out on a cool hunting experience with one of the most surprisingly challenging and fun animals there is to hunt. Squirrels aren’t overly elusive or hard to find, but they make up for their shortcomings by knowing how and when to disappear up a tree or into a hole.

Without knowing how to trick a squirrel into allowing you to get a shot, it can be surprisingly hard to bag your daily limit of these quick little varmints. In order to successfully bag your daily limit when squirrel hunting, there are a few simple tips you need to keep in mind.

View the slideshow to see the tips, and leave your own in the comments below.

Still Hunting

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If you choose to still hunt, that means finding a nice stand of mash trees like oak or hickory and sitting still until the squirrels come down to feed on the mash from those trees. This is a time consuming way to hunt, but it works.

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The best way to still hunt is to find a hillside or ridge with a good stand of mash trees. If you’re not sure a tree is being used as a food source, look at the base. If you see a lot of crushed nuts or shells, you’re in the right place. Squirrels will feed on the nuts from these trees and drop the shells at the base.

Hunting with a Dog

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In the states where squirrel hunting with a dog is legal, you can have quite a bit of success using this method. A good squirrel dog will trail a squirrel to the tree where it is hiding and will sit at the base of the tree, barking. This bark is known as a tree bark and has led to many an unsuspecting squirrel’s demise.

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Squirrel dogs give hunters a huge advantage by using their nose to find the squirrel and the tree a hunter needs to focus on, rather than having a hunter wait on a squirrel to appear while still hunting.

To be successful hunting with a dog, the most important thing to do is find a good dog. Mountain curs, fiests, and hound mixes all have the natural instincts and trainability to become great squirrel dogs and are often bred just for that reason. Once you find a great bloodline, take the time to train your dog well and you’ll be ready to tag out come squirrel season.

The Right Gun 

Squirrel hunting doesn’t require a lot of firepower. You’re not hunting big game, but you are hunting a small target. Most squirrel hunters prefer either a shotgun or .22 rifle. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Shotguns are perfect for running or jumping squirrels, but leave a lot of buckshot in the meat. Rifles are great for still shots and won’t damage the meat as much, but won’t help you if the squirrel decides to run or jump.

Choosing the right weapon has a lot to do with how you plan on hunting squirrels. If you’re still hunting, take a .22. By hunting quietly and waiting on the squirrels to appear, you won’t be chasing them. They won’t be on the run and you’ll have plenty of time to take a shot with a rifle and save the meat. If you’re hunting with a dog, take a shotgun. Squirrels being trailed by a dog know they’re in trouble and will be on the move. In order to take these squirrels, a shotgun works best.

Go Where the Food Is

Whether still hunting or using a dog, it’s best to know your terrain. Find the mash trees and focus on that area. Squirrels spend all their time looking for food and will stay close to an area that produces good mash. That’s where you need to be as well. Once you’ve exhausted the squirrel population in one food source area, move to another one. By moving from one food source to another, you stand a better chance of success.

Listen Up

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Squirrels are vocal animals. They’ll bark at predators and each other and if you know how to read the sounds they make, it becomes a lot easier to bag your limit. If you’re still hunting and you hear a squirrel barking in the distance, stay quiet. If there is a squirrel close to you, it will answer the distant squirrel, giving away its location.

Listen for a squirrel to ‘cut’. When feeding on the nuts from oaks or hickory trees, squirrels use their sharp teeth to cut through the outer shell of the nut. Once they do, they’ll drop the shell to the ground. If you hear the grinding, cutting sound of a squirrel feeding or the sounds of nut shells falling to the leaves, you can bet there’s a squirrel in the leaves of that tree somewhere. You just have to find him.

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