September Squirrel Hunting

By: Kirk Howes

september squirrel huntingMy earliest memory of the big woods was at age five. Just past the end of our street, lay the great state of Michigan. Thinking back on it now, it was probably a solid 80 acres. We lived in Ohio and I remember now how we could step one foot in Ohio and one in Michigan. The first real wild game I saw was in that big Michigan woods.

It was home to box turtles, owls, and squirrels; the latter has becoming my first thought when I see big woods. ” I wonder how many squirrels are in those woods,” I think to myself, every time I see a large tract of trees.

Squirrels have become a passion of mine; I will set down the bow to chase them with a .22.  I love September squirrel hunting.

They were the first “smart animal” I ever hunted. You could spook one and wait hours for it to reappear. In the beginning they were a status symbol, a young man that could shoot five squirrels was without question destined to be the next Jack O’Conner.

By age 15 or so the boys I hunted with had squirrel camps. We were mimicking our dads who journeyed to the northern deer camps. We ate just as well, but our game of choice was tougher to hunt, or so we thought.

.22s from our Grandfathers or Kmart were scoped with cheap optics and zeroed in at fifty yards to hit a quarter sized target almost every time.

P.S. Olt calls, and hand me down cotton duck game vests three sizes too large were standard gear.

Hey, lets get on to the hunting part here, that way you can tell me your stories at squirrel camp someday.

Squirrels like all other critters need food, water, and shelter. Almost all woods in Michigan can provide that, but please check your hunting guides for any areas that may be closed.

Oaks, Beech, Hickory and Maples are favorites to look for.

You will see cuttings on logs where squirrels are feeding on the nuts and seeds.

Cornfields, next to woods are the cat’s meow for hunting.

Now, we need to address what type of gun to use.

A good .22 is my first choice, because the report is not deafening and will not scare every squirrel for 400 yds.

I’ve used shotguns plenty of times, on float trips and when the cover of leaves is heavy. For the record the .22 is the biggest producer for me.

Hunting squirrels requires you to sit quietly, or stalk them like deer. I see tons of deer when hunting squirrels and tons of squirrels when hunting deer. What gives with that?

There are many tricks. Here’s a few that have worked well for me.

One is you can tie a short cord to a small tree and shake it to get a treed squirrels to come round the other side where you are standing waiting for a shot.

These little guys are tricky!

You can also call them out of a “den tree” by calling. I often call very aggressive and scrape the side of a big tree to simulate the clawing sound that squirrels make when running around and around a tree chasing one another.

The easiest way is to just find a spot and have a seat for awhile, letting the squirrels come out on their own. Don’t shoot the first one, often they will travel together in small family groups.

Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to hunt. Float trips can be exciting, be safe and have permission to hunt the land too.

Cooking squirrels requires you to skin them; here’s the easy way.

With wire-cutters or game shears cut all four feet off and the wrist.

Remove the tail and salt the butt end, you can use them to tie flies or some one here on this site may want them.

Carefully remove the head at the base of the neck.

Now with a SHARP knife make a cut in the middle of the back running left and right on the squirrel about two inches wide. Place your fingers in this cut and try to pull one hand towards the head and the other towards the rear end.

If done while the critter is warm it is easier and the skin should peel 90% off.

Now remove the innards through a belly skin cut. Wash the whole skinned squirrels and soak in a brine solution for an hour.

Now cut into serving size pieces and save the back for a stew if you want.

There’s a lot of meat on the backs and it is good,so don’t waste it.

Parboil the meat till tender, then brown and fry in a pan, add onion slices and just before serving add some sour cream and then serve on a platter.

Oh I forgot…..Take a kid hunting with you so he or she can carry on our hunting heritage and write about it 35 years from now.

P.S.

Best Squirrel hunter I knew,

Lived so far out in the woods, he had to walk towards town to hunt squirrels

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