By Brandon Butler
Indiana’s squirrel season is open and runs until Jan. 31, 2020. Hunters are allowed to harvest five squirrels daily and may possess up to 10. Squirrels may be taken with a shotgun, rifle or bow. A Small Game Hunting Permit is required to hunt squirrels.
The forests and woodlands of Indiana are open now and squirrels are easier to locate than during the leafy time of year. There are lots of other hunters in the woods to share time and space with, so it may be best to see if anyone else is hunting the area you plan to hunt, if you’re on private land, before heading out after bushytails. On public land, the best you can do is be on the lookout for other hunters and then try to make the most of the situation.
There are many ways to squirrel hunt in the fall. Walking cleared trails and logging roads affords you easy passage through the brush. Walking for a little way, then sitting down to silently wait, is the classic method of hunting squirrels. My favorite way to hunt squirrels is to float hunt on a peaceful stream from the comforts of a canoe.
Silently paddling around a lake or down a river through public land with a .22 rifle close at hand, a hunter can easily glide within shooting distance of squirrels. Spot a squirrel up in the branches, make the shot, retrieve your quarry and paddle on down river until you find another. You can easily float hunt squirrels alone, but it works even better with a partner. Have the shooter in the bow of the boat, so the paddler in the rear can hold the boat steady in the right place for the shooter.
When you arrive at an area that looks like great squirrel habitat, beach your canoe and take a hike. By accessing public land from the river, you are likely to have it all to yourself. You can also make squirrel camp on a gravel bar. I know more than one woodsman who lives for fresh fried squirrel served riverside.
If you’re new to squirrel hunting, don’t worry. Cleaning and cooking squirrels is a snap. First, make a slice under the base of the tail. Then break the tailbone and skin up the back about an inch. Next, slice down along the top of each back leg. This gives you a nice flap. Step on it and pull the squirrel up from its back legs. This will skin out the front of the squirrel. Now just grab the flap and pull it over the back legs. With your squirrel skinned, cut off the meat you plan to eat, bread it, drop it in the frying pan and you’re ready to go.
Squirrels are active from sunrise to sunset foraging for food, such as nuts, berries and seeds. Hunters who move slowly typically do well. It behooves a hunter to sit a spell in one place and wait for the movement of a squirrel to give away its location. Once you find and shoot a squirrel, don’t give up on the spot. You are quite likely to take two or more squirrels from the place.
There are two species of squirrels in Indiana, fox squirrels and eastern gray squirrels. Fox squirrels are also commonly referred to as “red squirrels.” They are bigger than gray squirrels and often inhabit edge areas. Gray squirrels are commonly found larger tracts of forest, but it is common find both reds and grays living together.
See you down the trail…