Squirrel hunting can be as much fun as you want and it puts food on your table. If you want it will also put some money in your pocket. All you need is a good woodlot that is populated with trees that produce the food squirrels eat, a .22 caliber gun or shotgun and time. You can hunt alone, with the family dog or with a friend. A word of warning – never shoot into a squirrel nest. First – it is not sporting; second – you will probably never retrieve the squirrel and third – it is probably illegal. Always remember to be a responsible hunter.
Squirrels are found where their food is. I live just outside the Adirondack Park in New York. Much of the forest is “forever wild”. What that means in a lot of areas it is mature forest without much food producing trees. Just hemlock and old pines and a ground covered in needle litter. What you find here is pine squirrels and frankly they are too small for me to bother with. I look for mixed forests with oaks, wild fruit trees, maples and pine. Here you will find gray squirrels, a fairly large squirrel that lives in much of the eastern United States. Forest that border farm land can be very productive.
As with most hunting, if you are alone, being a bit stealthy is important. If you go tramping through the woods crunching leaves or just being loud the squirrels will typically hunker down and quietly wait for you to pass. Try walking slow and steady. Every once and awhile, stop and stay in place. If you wait for 10 to 15 minutes the squirrels in the area will start moving again and at that point the “hunt is on”. I know people that will walk into a good woodlot sit for about 15 minutes and use a squirrel call with excellent results.
Shotgunning for squirrels is a blast. Many times they will be running along branches or bouncing through leaf litter looking for fallen nuts. At these times I consider shooting as exciting as gunning birds. When hunting with a shotgun, it does not need to be a specific gauge. Anything from a 12 to a 410 will work – you will need to use more powerful loads, magnums if your gun is capable, with the smaller gauges. My preference is an old 20 gauge I have owned for over 30 years. I typically use 3” shells loaded with 1 ¼ ounces of # 6 shot. Since I support eating what you shoot, try for head shots to keep the pellets out of the meat. The nice part of hunting with a shotgun is that you can be opportunistic. Rabbit and grouse seasons mirror squirrel season where I live and when you carry a shotgun you have the chance at a mixed bag.