Early seasons squirrel hunting can be extremely rewarding, yet can also be sometimes frustrating as well. The challenges and frustrations to the early season squirrel hunter are many. From the mosquitos, deer flies, the heat, spiders and their huge hunter catching webs to those darn green leaves everywhere obstructing out view and our shots. All of these early season nuisances can lead to frustrating squirrel hunting trips during what should be one of the most productive times of the year for squirrel hunting.
Early season squirrels are usually more active than when the cold weather sets in. More activity should translate into more sighting which could lead to more squirrels in your bag. Although squirrels don’t truly hibernate they will hole up in their nest for days at a time in the middle of winter. Contrast that to the opening days of squirrel season when the grey squirrel metabolism is revved up and food is abundant. Squirrels could fill their stomach in a matter of a minute or two but they go about their business of storing food for the colder months and that translates into lots of movement i.e. lots of hunter opportunities.
Squirrels are of course most active in the morning and again in evening but with the food so available and so much work to be done it isn’t a waste of time to hunt at anytime of day during the early season. Later on as the cold sets in and the acorn supply dries up the periods of high activity will get shorter and shorter.
The bad lining to the silver cloud of squirrel activity is those seemingly always in your way green leaves. Get busted by a squirrel this early in the season and it is unlikely you will be able to get off a shot before he hightails it up the tree to disappear in a sea of leaves never to be seen again. But that is why they call it hunting and not killing, well at least non-peta people do.
Early season leaves make it harder to find those squirrels in their hiding places that is for sure but this seeming advantage to the squirrel is offset by simply moving on to the next squirrel down the trail. Get busted just toss that one aside and move on to the next one in-line. Or as many successful hunters do take a break from the heat sit down and try to wait the squirrel out. Early season squirrels are active, unhunted and numerous so this tactic even after a botched stalk often leads to one or two squirrels succumbing to lead poisoning.
This is were the hunter often gets that early season advantage. Will this unpressured squirrel hole up long. Hard for it to do with so much supposed work to do. And if this squirrel found this tree to be such a good provider surely numerous other squirrels think so as well. And as is often the case a second or third squirrel will make an appearance long before the first squirrel decides the coast is clear.
During the late season you might be tempted to wait for a number of squirrels to reveal theirselves before dropping the hammer but with so much cover, I find, especially with my shooting ability, it is better to just pop the first one that shows instead of wasting time for others to show.
Early season woods are lush and green, hiding the squirrels, that is true, but the lushness and location of the leaves can be used to a good hunters advantage as well. Yes the leaves are still on the trees obstructing our view, that is true; but also when leaves are on the trees that means their brown, dried out bodies aren’t coating the forest floor like a spilt box of corn flakes, crunching with every step, giving the stalking hunter away. And those leaves that block our view also block the view of our quarry. With the squirrels often high in the treetops, head buried in a cluster of rustling leaves, it is often the downfall of many a squirrel. These same leaves we sometime cuss can also provide us the cover we need to sneak up on Mr. Grey as he goes about de-acorning all the trees.
The key as always for the hunter is to not get in to much of a hurry. Get over zealous and rush the stalk could turn the leaves from friend to foe very quickly. It is better to go a little slower than to go one step to quickly. Many a squirrels life is spared each year when an over eager hunter refuses to wait for the clear shot. Bobbing and moving to line up a shot on an unaware grey squirrel can be your undoing when you should have just remained motionless and patiently waited for the squirrel to give you a shot instead of forcing the action.
So get out there and brave the spiders and the early season heat that must be endured the rewards should be a limit of fat squirrels for the pot.