Clancy: Winter Squirrel Hunting Tips

Not many people hunt squirrels during the winter months. Maybe that is why I like it. But in addition to the lack of competition from other hunters, there are other reasons why I enjoy squirrel hunting during the winter months.

Gary Clancy
Gary Clancy

I like reading sign in the snow and knowing, not guessing that there are squirrels in the area. Tracks, acorn hulls and shelled corn are all easy to spot in the snow. Find the sign and you have found a squirrel or two.

If the snow is soft and quiet, I like to slip along slowly through the woods watching in the trees and on the ground ahead for any squirrel activity. I wear whites or snow camo including a cap or facemask. If you don’t make any quick movements, squirrels will rarely spot you when you are well camouflaged.

Goes For Head Shots
I’m a rifle hunter and always go for head shots, so I like to get close before I shoot. Sometimes this means sitting down and waiting for the squirrels to come to me. I carry an H.S. Strut turkey seat with me and use that to keep my butt off of the cold snow. I shoot a T/C Classic semi-auto .22 topped with a decent scope. This is a very accurate rifle and as long as I hold my shots to distances under 40 yards, and have the patience to wait until the squirrel offers me an open shot at a stationary target, a squirrel nearly always tumbles when the little rifle speaks.

I have learned, however, not to go rushing up to retrieve the squirrel. In the winter, when food is scarce, squirrels will reluctantly share the best feeding areas with others and if you sit tight for a few minutes, squirrels will forget about the shot you fired and get back at the job of finding food. I’ve often shot four or five squirrels from one spot when hunting during the winter months.

I carry a sharp pocketknife and a few gallon-sized, zippered plastic bags with me when hunting during the winter, and skin the squirrels out while they are still warm. If you have ever tried to skin a half-frozen squirrel you know why.

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