John's Journal...

Better Tactics and Equipment Mean More Squirrels

Day 2: Three Tactics for Taking More Squirrels – Slipping Roads, Paddling and Laying Out a Spoke Pattern

Editor’s Note: Know how to change your luck. Squirrel season is starting or already has begun across the U.S. When you put more thought into and use better tactics and equipment to hunt squirrels, you’ll end-up with more bushytails to take home.

Slipping Roads:

Click for Larger ViewI’m a road slipper. Give me an old logging road, a deer trail or a power line, and I consistently can take more squirrels by stalking. With a path through the woods, you usually can move more quietly than you can when trying to tramp through the forest floor. You often can move more quickly from one feeding area to another without creating a disturbance. In many cases, roads will be fringed by bushes and brambles that mask movement, allowing you to move in close to your prey. During my college days, I’d often be in the woods before first light, slip-down an old road, take a mess of squirrels and be back in time for an 8:00 am class.

Paddling to Squirrels:

Click for Larger ViewAnother technique that lets the hunter cover ground quickly and quietly is floating for squirrels. A canoe or a flat-bottomed boat, a paddle and a shotgun are all the required equipment needed. Many hunters use .22s for early-season floating but prefer a shotgun for late-season hunting for two reasons. When the leaves are off the trees, squirrels are more skittish. A hunter will have more running shots than still shots, so when paddling quietly down a stream, you’ll likely surprise a few ducks sitting in the backs of sloughs or just around a bend. Although my primary targets are squirrels, there’s no point in passing-up a plump duck, if duck season has started. Be sure to check your state regulations on paddling and hunting near water.

Laying Out a Spoke Pattern:

Click for Larger ViewLate season is also best for the still hunter. “I can find where squirrels are feeding and just go sit-down and let them feed in to shotgun range,” the late Eddie Winks told me. Winks used a spoke tactic that’s extremely productive for taking bushytails. Once Winks located a feeding place, he’d pick what he believed to be the trees where the most squirrels would likely be located. His first or primary tree always would be located on the outermost perimeter of the feeding site. Winks cleaned-out a spot in the leaves where he could sit and move slightly from side to side for a shot. Next, he’d choose several other trees in front of his primary tree. Click for Larger ViewThese trees would be out in the feeding grounds, often 20- to 30-yards from his base tree. “I try to have three or four secondary trees in a 180-degree arc from my first tree,” Winks explained. Next, Wink would clear a path from his base tree to his secondary tree, so that he could move down these paths noiselessly. All this activity took place a day before his hunt or after his morning hunt had ended. Then the woods could settle-down before Winks was ready to hunt. When Winks returned to his hunting ground, he’d sit down at the base of the first tree. “Usually I can take one or two squirrels at my primary tree,” he commented. “When the woods get quiet again, I begin to watch the timber in front of my secondary trees. Once the squirrels start coming-out again, I ease-down my paths, using my secondary tree as a blind. When I’m behind the tree, I’m close enough to the squirrels ahead of me to shoot. After taking a squirrel or two from a tree, I’ll return to my base tree and watch for more squirrels to appear in front of one of the other trees with paths leading to them.”

Tomorrow: Barking for Squirrels

Check back each day this week for more about "Better Tactics and Equipment Mean More Squirrels "

Day 1: Opening Morning of Squirrel Season and Where to Hunt
Day 2: Three Tactics for Taking More Squirrels – Slipping Roads, Paddling and Laying Out a Spoke Pattern
Day 3: Barking for Squirrels
Day 4: Important Extras to Improve Your Odds of Success for Taking Squirrels
Day 5: Two More Successful Tactics for Taking Squirrels

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Entry 634, Day 2