Here’s how squirrel hunting can help deer hunters… really!
Scoop or not, most deer hunters will at least turn their eyes toward any type of information that may help them bag that trophy and fill the freezer. The interesting part here is that you get to go hunting to help your hunting!
One veteran outdoor editor has amassed some of the reasons why hunting for simple bushy tails may help in the long run to get your deer.
As you know, squirrels are acorns hogs, but more importantly they’re the one critter in the woods (besides deer) that know how to find them. And not just find them; any hunter can find oak trees, but you and I aren’t looking for todays meal- Mr. Squirrel is.
Finding good mast that deer are feeding on means the likelihood of seeing animals. Mama doe will take this year’s family along, but when she comes into estrous, fawns get the boot and then daddy will return. Squirrels can and will lead you to the spot where the best acorns are.
It’s not beyond the realm of reason that you do some actual shooting at them. Every hunter has started their career off with a few greys, or reds or blacks so carry a trusty plinker with you. Shooting a .22 is simple right? I mean with a scope and in the woods you usually hunt, what could be easier?
Now you see that you have to treat it the same way as deer: look for body parts. try to pick out what you think is a grey when there are still a lot of leaves may not be as easy as you thought. And what about patience? It’s the same patience you need when that big boy is coming and you just don’t have a good look… yet.
Then there’s this little thing about the noise they make. I’m not talking about the chatter coming out of their mouths, but that all too familiar crunching in the leaves. Is it a deer or is it a tree rat? As veteran hunters we should be able to know the difference and our own ears are the key.
Locating the direction of the sound is the first obvious choice; discerning what’s making that sound is what counts. How many times have we ‘heard’ a squirrel and it was a deer or more often vice-versa? One of the biggest differences- squirrels don’t care if you hear them, deer want to be stealthy and they are.
If nothing else some simple squirrel shooting will retrain the eye to see through the scope, help the hands be steady, and be a reminder to squeeze and not pull the trigger. Squirrels will race through the leaf litter and deer will mosey. Squirrels will trot over logs and downed timber to avoid the water, and deer will walk right through- hear some splashing? It’s probably not a squirrel.
We cut lanes, scout, and set our treestands early so why not chase some bushy tails before and after the season to find deer? It may not be the first choice of some, but the reality is that part of knowing your quarry is knowing where they live… and who their neighbors are!