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Squirrel hunting is one of the best ways to get started in the outdoors. Many hunters begin with deer, waterfowl or turkey, but never learn the woodsmanship squirrel hunting teaches. Getting started is easy, because you don’t have to buy a lot of specialized equipment and you can almost always find a squirrel or two in the woods, so you’ll get some fast action while still learning how to hunt.
Click on the photo for details about each species.
Where to Hunt
About 90 percent of Arkansas is private land, but there are plenty of public hunting opportunities throughout the state. Click the link below to learn about some of the AGFC’s wildlife management areas and the seasons and the regulations for each.
When to Hunt
Squirrel season is one of the longest of any game animal. Hunters can be in the woods from mid-May until the end of February. The best times of the year to hunt squirrels are during October, when acorns and hickory nuts are ripe, and in late December and January, when leaves are off the trees and squirrels must search to find food.
Squirrels can be found any time of the day, but are most active in the mornings. Gray squirrels tend to be most active in the first hour or two of the day. Fox squirrels tend to get active about an hour after sunrise, but stay active until midday.
How to Squirrel Hunt
There are two main ways to start hunting – still hunting and stand hunting
Still Hunting – Contrary to its name, still hunting means slowly walking and stopping to scan the area, then moving again. You want to move very slowly and spend more time stopped and looking than moving. When still hunting, look for any ridges or high places to begin your stalk. Stop near a tree or bush that will help hide your movements. Scan trees for any kind of movement. It usually takes about 10 minutes or so for squirrels that may have seen you to start moving again. Look closely for branches shaking and anywhere branches attach to the base of the tree. After about 10 to 15 minutes, walk very slowly to your next stopping point (about 10 to 15 yards away) and repeat the process.
Stand Hunting – Stand hunting requires a little scouting before the hunt. Spend a day walking in the woods, looking for what the squirrels are eating. This is best during October, when hickory nuts and acorns are abundant. Look under hickory trees and oak trees for nut or acorn hulls that have been recently chewed up (cuttings). If you find a tree that the squirrels are feeding on, come back the next morning with your gun and set up next to a tree about 20 yards away. Sit still and watch the woods for squirrels visiting the tree.
- Hunter’s Safety Card
- Hunting License (if you’re 16 or older)
- Comfortable boots for the weather and terrain
- Comfortable clothing for the weather
- A game bag or game strap to carry downed squirrels
- A .22 rimfire rifle or a shotgun
- Shotgun shells in a shot size from 2 to 6
- A GPS unit or compass and map to help you navigate
- Squirrels can’t sit still for very long. Their tail often gives them away, flicking back and forth.
- Once you shoot, stay still and the squirrels will usually start moving again in a few minutes.
- When looking for squirrels, try to position yourself where you’re looking toward the sun at an angle. The angled light will help you see movement.
- Once you see a squirrel, make sure there is a solid backstop behind it before shooting.
- Take the time to learn your tree species. Squirrels prefer some types of acorns and nuts over others.