5 Reasons Squirrel Hunting Is So Popular

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And a Great Video Tip for How to Clean Your Kill

It's no surprise squirrel hunting is so popular. Here's why.

(© Cheryl Pendley photo)

1. Squirrels Are Everywhere

From Maine to Mississippi, Kentucky to California, squirrels can be found. Such an abundance of small-game opportunities yields plenty of seasonal hunting opportunities. 

Depending on where you live, some locations have late spring, summer, early fall, late fall and even winter squirrel seasons.

Check out your state's hunting regulations and give squirrel hunting a try.

2. Squirrels Are Good to Eat

When somebody tells me squirrels aren't good to eat, the boy raised in north-central Pennsylvania's upper-Appalachia region speaks up. Not only are they good to eat, you'd be hard-pressed not to find a wild-game cookbook including a good bushtytail recipe or two.

Even the classic Joy of Cooking has some suggestions.

Our resident wild-game chef and Timber 2 Table blogger Michael Pendley routinely offers great squirrel recipes. Three tasty options follow here:

Buttermilk Fried Squirrel with Southern Gravy

Squirrel and Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

Old-Fashioned Squirrel and Dumplings

Hungry yet?

3. Squirrels Are Easy to Clean

Squirrel Cleaning Video Tip

Yep, you heard right. After that last section, you might have been thinking: "Yeah, but they're tough to clean, Hickoff." Not.

Especially if you use these video tips from Realtree.com contributor M.D. Johnson (see right).

4. Squirrels Teach Hunting Skills

To hunt squirrels well, you need to employ stealth. Still-hunting and stand-hunting tactics can be developed in youth hunters, again, with such high squirrel numbers available to them.

Other hunting skills include: Gun safety. Marksmanship. From field-to-table insights.

Intangible stuff: Patience. Watching the world wake up around you. Camaraderie.

What's not to like about squirrel hunting?

5. Squirrel Hunting Is Full of Action

Want an opportunity at a deer or turkey? Chances are you're going to have to put in some time. And that's cool. That's okay. 

But squirrel hunting often involves more action than whitetails and wild turkeys. That's great for kids, as implied in the previous section, both as a teaching tool and pure hunting pleasure. You can even hunt squirrels with dogs. Feists are a popular breed.

Walk into a hardwoods full of hickories and oaks. Have a sit. Enjoy the rustle of painted fall leaves and the chill in the air. Take a deep breath.

You're hunting.

Didn't see any squirrels on your way in? Chances are they saw you. Now sit some more. Watch those trees for movement; a flicker of gray tail. Listen for a squirrel cutting nuts as shells rain to the forest floor. 

Okay, game on. That squirrel is descending the big hickory, claws scratching bark as it corkscrews down out of leafy cover and into range.

Feel your heartbeat start thrumming even more? Good. That's the idea.

Whether you're 50 or 15 years old, hunting squirrels will do that to you.

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[Editor's note: This article was first published August 29, 2016.]