Updated: Mar 19
Typically, hunters rely on the finely-tuned instincts of a well-trained beagle to hunt squirrels successfully. If you do not have access to a good squirrel dog you can still get out there and have great success too!
Listen for the three distinct sounds a squirrel is sure to make to find out where to hunt. Make sure to stay still because squirrels are very cautious of predators on the ground. Distract the squirrels with the aid of a friend to get the perfect shot.
With a little luck, and a ton of patience, anyone can fill their limit of squirrels. I've done it in an hour by myself before! Read on for all the tips you need to be successful without a dog.
Listen, Listen, Listen!
This is the key to having a successful squirrel hunt without a dog. It is easy to fly through the woods and miss a squirrel that was smart enough to wait you out. Taking the time to move slowly, and listen well will make a huge difference in your odds of filling a limit. Squirrels will make three distinct sounds that should put a good hunter on their path.
The three distinct sounds to listen for when hunting squirrels are:
Squirrels will bark and squeak as they go about their day and interact with one another. If you hear a lot of barking squirrels, ease up to them and sit tight. They could be warning each other so move steadily with a calm posture. They definitely see you but if you can sit still for long enough, they will forget about you move around for a better shot.
Squirrels are not going to be found exclusively in the trees. They do a ton of foraging on the ground and will dart away from approaching predators (That means you). If you are easing up to your next stand and hear a sudden rustle in thick woods, start looking up! Remember to move easily and sit patiently for them to settle back down.
Clicking is the best way I can describe a squirrel smacking on an acorn. This sound is easy to miss, but in my opinion, it's the best one to hear. If a squirrel is chowing down, he’s less likely to care about what’s going on underneath him. If you listen closely, you will also hear the acorn husks falling from the tree.
Where to Find Squirrels
Obviously, you’re going to need to be looking in the trees. I like to start by walking a tree line that juts up beside an open field as the sun comes up. I have taken the majority of my squirrels as they scurry out onto the far branches to take a peek out below and catch some of the morning sunshine.
After you have done a sweep of the treeline around a clearing, move into the woods to find some more. The best trees to look for when hunting squirrels are hardwoods and nut trees. Do a little research to determine what nuts are in season when you hunt and know how to identify them. This will be the best way to find a bunch of squirrels.
Strategy in the Timber
Once you’ve made it into the thicket and have heard some good sounds the best thing you can do is sit still and wait. You’re probably in a target-rich environment, but they know something is up. Be patient and blend into the forest. You never see more squirrels than when you’re sitting like a stone in a tree stand waiting for a deer do you? Mimic that behavior!
After you’ve waited ten minutes it wouldn't be a bad idea for one person in the party to start making noise and moving in large circles to draw the squirrel’s attention. They are terrific hiders and will avoid predators by hiding on the backside of their tree. When your friend catches its attention the squirrel will move to hide and create an opportunity for you to get a shot.
It’s easy to get disoriented as you constantly scan the grey mess of branches above you for squirrels. My advice is to look beyond or through the limbs and focus on the sky above. Naturally, your eyes will be attracted to movement. When one gets bold you’ll be ready.
Squirrel is an abundant game animal. It’s usually the first hunt a kid gets to go on, but it’s so much more than just a tune-up for deer season. I think it’s a legitimate way to put some organic, all-natural meat in the freezer while having a whole lot of fun in the process.
If you want some info about what you’ll need to start going after squirrels check out these links for my complete list on weapon and ammunition preferences as well as my packing list for a day of small game hunting. Don't let the fact that you don't have a dog keep you on the couch. Get up, get out there, and get after those squirrels!
Good luck and let us know how you did in the comments below!