All you ever hear about the South’s spring squirrel season is “It’s a great tune-up for deer season.” Forget that. It’s a hell of a lot of fun in its own right. And it’s even more exciting if you like to hunt squirrels with a handgun, as this is probably the best time of year for it. Here’s how I get it done with a sidearm.
1. Go soft
Ignore hickories and oaks now because squirrels are feeding on soft stuff, like buds and berries. A mulberry tree with ripe fruit draws squirrels like nothing else, but if you can’t find one, focus on edge habitat, including fencerows with mature trees and small woodlot fringes with abundant new growth.
2. Use your eyes
Between scraping their teeth on hickory nuts and scampering in dry leaves, fall squirrels make a racket. But in spring, you’ll usually see them before you hear them because the forest floor is damp and green, and they can munch berries in silence. Fortunately, berries and buds are eaten quickly and keep feeding squirrels on the move, making them easier to spot.
3. Get close
Handgun hunting is productive now because quiet footing, thick foliage, short timber, and oblivious young squirrels allow a stealthy hunter to get close. But you still have to make the shot. For that, you need a good gun (see sidebar) and a solid rest. I create a two-point rest against a tree by placing both the underside of the gun barrel and the front edge of the trigger guard against the tree trunk, with my off hand bracing below it. It’s an unusual hold, as the gun is slightly canted. But I haven’t found a better way to steady a rimfire handgun for a shot at a squirrel in the treetops.