John's Journal...

Better Tactics and Equipment Mean More Squirrels

Day 3: Barking for Squirrels

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.

Click for Larger ViewAs winter sets-in, often finding and getting close enough to take bushytails is difficult. Their keen eyes and acute hearing are at their best from lofty perches on leafless limbs. Stalk hunting squirrels at this time of year often means long shots or running shots. For this reason, I prefer a canine companion. Squirrel hunting with a dog completely changes the sport of squirrel hunting. The hunt can become a more-social event. I like to take my wife, children and grandchildren on dog hunts for bushytails for several reasons. Click for Larger ViewThe family doesn’t have to be quiet, there’s usually plenty of action, and they can enjoy seeing the pooch they’ve fed and patted all year earn his keep. Some of my fondest memories as a boy are of family squirrel hunts with a dog. I’ve tried to pass that heritage on to my children and grandchildren.

I prefer a small dog that hunts out about 50 to 100 yards in front of me and comes back every 30 to 45 minutes to let me know his location. A silent trailing dog is also a prerequisite for a good squirrel dog. When the dog barks, I want to know that he either has smelled the tree a squirrel’s gone-up, or he’s looking at a squirrel. A dog that barks on the trail often will spook as many squirrels as he trees. Sometime you can’t be sure whether a dog is trailing a squirrel or treeing one if the dog has a lot of mouth. Although dogging for bushytails can be a social event, this form of hunting is also exciting for the lone hunter. Sometimes a man needs to be alone in the woods with his dog to renew his spirit and participate in his sport with a canine that loves to hunt as much as his master does. But solo dog hunting in the winter has its drawbacks. Often the squirrel will stay on the opposite side of the tree from the hunter, making a shot impossible. Click for Larger ViewTo solve this problem, I always carry a length of cord. I attach the cord to a small tree or bush on one side of the tree where the dog has been barking. Then I walk to the other side of the tree. I wait a few minutes and then snatch the cord. The bush shakes and startles the squirrel, which quickly moves to my side of the tree. Rapid shooting with my .12 gauge often will provide a squirrel stew for supper.

lick for Larger ViewWhen dogging for tree rats, I prefer a full choke .12-gauge Remington 1100 with a No. 6 shot. In many cases, the squirrels you see in the treetops will be running in the upper branches. Often there’s no time to sight-in a rifle. Only quick shooting with a shotgun will get results. If there are two or three hunters, one can carry a rifle to take squirrels that are hugging the bark, while the other hunter waits for the bushytail to run.

Tomorrow: Important Extras to Improve Your Odds of Success for Taking 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 3