John's Journal...

How to Cash-in on the Squirrel Crop

Day 4: Barking for Squirrels

Editor’s Note: Know how to change your squirrel-hunting luck. When you put more thought and better tactics into your squirrel hunting, you’ll end-up with more bushytails in your coat. Here’s how.

Click for Larger ViewAs winter sets-in, bushytails often are hard to find and difficult to get close enough to take. Their keen eyes and acute hearing are at their best from a lofty perch on a leafless limb. Stalk hunting squirrels often means long shots or at best, 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 and children on dog hunts for bushytails for several reasons. Click for Larger ViewThe family does not have to be as quiet. There is usually plenty of action, and they can enjoy seeing the pooch they have 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 am trying to pass that heritage on to my children.

I prefer a small dog that hunts out about 50 to 100 yards in front of me and comes back by every 30 to 45 minutes to let me know where he is. 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 has gone-up or he is looking at a squirrel. A dog that barks on the trail will often spook as many squirrels as he trees. Sometimes you cannot 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.

Click for Larger ViewSometimes 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 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. To 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 the dog has been barking-up. Then I walk to the other side of the tree. I wait a few minutes, and then I snatch the cord. Click for Larger ViewThe bush shakes and startles the squirrel, which quickly moves to my side of the tree. Rapid shooting with my .12 gauge will often provide a squirrel stew for supper. When dogging for tree rats I prefer a full choke .12 gauge with No. 6 shot. In many cases, the squirrels you see in the treetops will be running in the upper branches. Often there is no time to sight-in with 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 Ideas for Improving Your Squirrel-Hunting Odds

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Cash-in on the Squirrel Crop "

Day 1: Eight Squirrels in 3 Minutes
Day 2: Where to Hunt Squirrels
Day 3: Some Top Methods for Hunting Squirrels
Day 4: Barking for Squirrels
Day 5: Important Ideas for Improving Your Squirrel-Hunting Odds


Entry 598, Day 4