Tennessee Fall Squirrel Hunting

The fall Squirrel season will kick off at the end of August. It’s that time of year when it’s usually hot even at day break and the ticks and no see ums are plentiful.

To most people it’s the time of year for hitting the lake or lie-ing beside the pool. Even us old people seems to enjoy the air conditioned house to the woods. Any hunter can always find a reason to go hunting or not. Hot weather, work or family functions always seem to come along. But Squirrel season gives us a chance to get into the woods early in the morning before the sun gets too high and starts heating everything up and making even the creatures lazy. It’s a good time to do some scouting for up coming deer season and fall Turkey season.

But to the hard core outdoorsman, Squirrel hunting is just another excuse to find ourselves in God great creation and enjoy some commradiere with other hunters or family adventures. So lets look at some aspects of fall Squirrel hunting.

The young squirrels that were born in February are now about two thirds grown. They are fat from eating ripe mulberries and when properly cooked are mighty tasty. One good way to prepare them is a stew with potatoes and green peas.

In hot weather, it’s best to field dress them as soon as possible after they have been shot. Then take the potatoes and scrape the skins off and take the peas and stew them all together.

There are two two types of squirrels here in Tennessee. The red squirrel and the gray squirrel. We mostly see the gray squirrel. There isn’t any difference in the taste, the red’s usually grow to be a little bigger. A full grown red will weigh about a pound and half where a gray is about a pound.

The young are born in late January or early February. The squirrel nest’s are built of twigs and leaves usually in a tree fork or hollow tree. The grow quickly and are big enough to be eaten around the middle of April. That’s when the elm and maple buds are large enough for them to feed on.

They are usually fatter around this time and also when the mulberries get ripe in June. Squirrels love mulberries.

If you decide to try your hand at squirrel hunting and are new to the sport, here’s a little advice. Remember, there is no experience like time in the woods.

For a beginner, you should take a common 22 rifle or shotgun with number 6 shot. The old hunters in the backwoods used to use the musket or muzzel loader and bark the squirrels. No I don’t mean make there guns sound like a squirrel but shoot the branch that they were setting on and the shock would kill the squirrel. I have heard and seen many old timers fuss and call men names because they didn’t shoot the squirrel in the head. They made the statement that a man that didn’t shoot the squirrel in the head was wasting meat and wasn’t fit to be called a hunter.

the gray squirrel will most often be found in thick timber. The red or fox squirrel as they are sometimes called, like the tall timber best. Where the big oaks and hickories seem to reach to the sky.

The best time to hunt squirrels is right at day break. Do some scouting during the day and locate hickory trees that have lots of nuts. Look around the base of the tree for cuttings. That’s where the squirrel sits on a limb and eats the nuts. A tree with lot’s of squirrel action will have easily visible cutting’s around the base. Late evening hunting in dry weather makes it hard to sneak up on them. That’s why I like the early morning’s. Find you a location, sneak in before day break and just sit down with a good view of the tree and wait. They will come.

Don’t shoot the first squirrel you see, let a few of them get into the tree first. It’s like it’s better to let the gang get into place and then shut the door. When you shoot the first one, don’t jump up and immedieatly go to retrieve it, just wait because the other squirrels will either run and then you can shoot them or they will lay down on a branch and attempt to locate the threat. They may lie still for a few minutes and if there isn’t any movement, they may go back to eating. Thus, giving up their location.

When you have killed your limit, it’s time to clean your harvest. There are many ways to do this, but the easiest that I have found is to turn the tail up over the back and with a sharp knife cut into the underside of the tail. Then lay the squirrel down on it’s back and put your foot on the tail and grab the legs and pull upward. The skin from the but of the tail down to the nose will strip off.

Squirrel hunting has been a tradition for centuries and in many times was the only food source for fresh meat many of the mountain families had. It’s also a great way to introduce young hunters to the woods and spend some time teaching them about the great adventure’s and responsibilities of being a hunter.

Good luck and I’ll see you in the woods.

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