I like squirrel hunting in the fall when the leaves are coming off the trees, because the squirrels are moving, both up in the bare branches and also on the ground. You can spot them from a ways off and plan an approach…. on the other hand they can see you from a long ways off if your not smart about it, and plan their exit! It’s this cat and mouse game that makes hunting this time of year so fun, and potentially productive. Gray squirrels tend to spend more time aloft and fox squirrels more on the ground, but in fall this conventional wisdom goes out the window and you’re likely to find either in either place at any time.
I look for drays and nest trees, then look for food trees, and try to set up an ambush point along the way. Earlier in the year I’m sweeping the canopy looking for motion out of sync with the wind, but later in fall I’m glassing the ground well ahead of me looking for bushytail on the ground digging up nuts. If setting up an ambush, I plant myself with my back against a tree and get comfortable, I might be here 30-40 minutes and it is important to stay as still as possible. Squirrels pick up on even slight motion, and it’s frustrating to sit still for 25 minutes then stretch your legs only to scare off an approaching squirrel.
When looking for squirrels on the ground, they are pretty easy to locate because the tend to be on the move, however when up in the trees they may sit very still for long periods. I keep a sharp eye out for atypical motion, a common give away is when you see the tail fur outlined against the sky blowing in even a light breeze.
In the woods where I hunt it’s possible to get a mixed bag. I spent a couple days at the farm and limited on grays Saturday, and fox squirrels on Sunday….. not planned, just the way it worked! On this trip I used my Daystate Huntsman, one of the prettiest air rifles ever built to my eye. Mine is a .22, and it is very accurate, a great gun to wander the woods with: a please to carry and to shoot.
At the end of the day I dressed the squirrels, skinning the first, then gutting and quartering them before packing on ice. I also keep the tails and cure to use for fly tying….. another one of my hobbies.