Like other small mammals, squirrels are edible. If you are a lover of game meat, this is your opportunity to learn how to hunt squirrels with an air rifle. Hunting for squirrels is not easy; you have to offer them something more enticing than the woods’ natural food. You will have to do a lot of creeping to get your game bag full. Read on to find out how you can use your air rifle perfectly to hunt squirrels.
What You Will Need
Like you will go hunting for any other prey, you need to bring along a few things to make squirrel hunting less daunting and bring meat home. Some of the things you will need include;
- Air rifle
- Camouflage to prevent the squirrel from spotting you
- Range finder (if you have not practiced range estimation)
- Binoculars with crisp lenses to scan trees
- Hunting boots to keep feet warm, especially during winter
First things first, pick the right rifle
There is a plethora of air rifles out there for hunting squirrels. Out of all the ones available, it is safe to say the best calibers are .22, .25, and .177. These calibers have lightweight and are easy to use. Yours is to look for the best caliber, energy, and velocity to get the squirrel down.
Then, know where to aim
Getting the shot right is paramount. You must get a clean kill, or else you lose your prey for that shot. If you don’t get a clean kill, chances are the squirrel will stroll and go die elsewhere, and you will have lost.
Two parts of the squirrel will give you a sure bet: the heart or the lungs. But, if you do not want to lose some meat in the process, aim at shooting the squirrel’s head. That way, the prey will not get away slowly.
To get the right head, heart, or lung shot, you need to practice shooting on target. Try as much as possible not to shoot from the front or back; always aim at shooting the squirrel from the side. Always shoot when the rodent is standing still.
You most likely will not aim at squirrels on trees only. It helps a lot to practice on-target shooting such that you do not waste shots while hunting. While practicing, be sure to try various pellets and choose one which you think is the best for your hunting needs. For long-range shots, domed pellets are the best, while wadcutter pellets work well with short ranges.
Since we are talking about a clean shot, let us touch a bit on the scope.
A squirrel being a tiny animal, the kill zone is correspondingly small. Having a great scope can mean you get a clean shot or wound the animal giving it a chance to run and hide. Having good scope increases accuracy. You can choose from a range of airgun scopes, but preferably a 3-9x scope with an adjustable objective is recommended for hunting.
The adjustable objective is important for bringing the target into focus. Different power scopes are also handy when you want to identify your target, among other squirrels.
So, when is the right time to go squirrel hunting with an airgun?
Squirrels are common during the early times of the season. This is when trees are heavily covered with leaves. The small mammals like to make their way through the canopy in the heavy leaves and branches. This is a good time to hunt as the animal cannot see you slowly closing in on it.
You can also go hunting in late fall. Although there will be no leaves on trees, you can get prey by placing an obstacle between you and the target. Do not worry, with the time, you will know the best tactics of how to go about this.
Once you are in the woods, scout well for spots to hunt. Squirrels are in love with nut-bearing trees, and you are likely to see many of them around. You may also be lucky to find these small mammals around fruit-bearing trees.
If spotting squirrels become hard, you may have to set up feeding points. However, the bait must be kept in a contained area. Set up the bait in a place that encourages the rodents to stick around for some time. Squirrels are quick to notice changes in the environment. You need to wait and monitor for a few days before shooting. Alternatively, you can go around looking for messy surroundings in the woods. If there is some food around, chances are there were some squirrels too.
How Far Can You Shoot?
If you are a newbie to hunting, aim at a squirrel from 35 yards away. Otherwise, 20 yards away is a far enough distance to target a good shot.
Quick tips to help you spot these small rodents
- Listen as they move through leaves and branches; they always hide in foliage and shady areas.
- Listen for sounds of scrapping, cutting, or hulling. Squirrels like to scrape nuts and drop pieces on the ground.
- Cuttings on the ground signal that a squirrel is up on the tree.
- Listen for a tree bark rustling or falling for the sound of squirrels like to make noises as they climb up a tree.
Remember, you must have the necessary legal right to go squirrel hunting. Different types of games require hunting licenses; get one meant for squirrel hunting for the place you wish to hunt.
So you have picked an airgun, picked the right pellet, chosen a good scope, and determined the desired range, let’s go hunting. Remember to take natural paths as you move quietly through the woods. Pay attention to natural food and water sources as you are likely to catch some prey there. If you are hunting for the first time, get as close to the target as possible.
And if you are not sure, do not shoot, there will be another chance. You may be lucky enough to take home meat from a round-tailed ground squirrel, red squirrel, western gray squirrel, or a tree squirrel.