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New Hunter: Squirrel...rabbit?

sears303

Button Buck
I am new to hunting, never been out yet even. I have been reading, researching everything I can on safety, styles, anything that might help. Nothing like just getting out as far as I am concerned. I am looking to just hit the woods with my .22, public land or game land. I am wondering if anyone has any tips for a new hunter in the mountain area?

I don't want to piss off any deer hunters by pressuring their prize, but it's also public land and I am trying to get some experience. Any local type info would be great to hear. Thanks!
 

nccatfisher

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Get out and hunt, right now target mast trees. Soon as the leaves drop forget those "pretty" big hardwoods. Contrary to what people think they for the most part will be as barren as the desert because squirrels will feel vulnerable to predators. Hunt fringe areas, mast around thick vegetation. They will forage for that mast but stay in the brush and vines that make them feel concealed. The absolute honeyhole if you can find it once the leaves have fallen off is drainages that have hardwoods that are covered in vines and the understory is thick. That is a squirrel mecca. River bottoms like this is also great.
 

nccatfisher

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Thanks for all the info @nccatfisher !!
I don't squirrel hunt much anymore as I can't walk half days at a time. I dog hunt when I do. Once the leaves get off we target areas many folks would consider better rabbit habitat but that is where the squirrels will be. They aren't dumb, avian predators give them a fit. Not to mention there are a few ground dwellers that get them also. I forgot to mention that this is grey squirrel info. Fox squirrel is considerably different. I wouldn't even remotely have the patience to still hunt them.
 

sears303

Button Buck
I wouldn't mind coming across a rabbit or 2 in my travels as well. Seems like that area you mention would be great all around.
 

KrisB

Six Pointer
I'm not in the mountain area, but I'm also a new hunter and I would suggest practice and get comfortable with your .22 before you go out. And practice being able to quietly get it ready and keep it steady against a tree or on your knee. That is some advice a hunting friend gave me since I'm new.

Something that another new hunter suggested at a GSO workshop for new hunters is to check out the WRC's permit hunts. Not sure if any are still available now or if they were in your area, but I did see a few for small game permit hunts. That is one way to avoid hunting pressure.

Good luck! Hope you get on some squirrels this season!
 

Loganwayne

Six Pointer
dont worry to much about the deer hunters, they are on the same public as you. just be logical about your hunting spot. if you get where youd like to hunt but there are a bunch of cars go find somewhere else. i grouse hunt through deer season and havent had a problem yet.
 

turkeyfoot

Old Mossy Horns
What western public You looking at? Its very easy to avoid deer hunters just don't park near them as far as the hunt catfisher gave you great advise go now no better time than when leaves are on and for ntnl forest I always target hickory first you'll have no trouble telling where squirrels are eatting you'll see the hulls. Find hickory nuts in western nc and you'll find a limit of squirrels. In mtns after leaves are off don't be surprised to find them in laurel for reason nccatfisher said gives them cover and there are plenty oaks in the laurel where nuts are on ground just mark spot where squirrel falls if not you'll have hard time finding it
 

old dog

Spike
I was new a few years ago, and the best advice I got regarding my squirrel hunts on public lands was that it is your right. Common courtesy helps, but remember a hunt is a hunt and your squirrel is on some levels as important as his deer. If I were in your shoes I would look at a shotgun early season.
 

appmtnhntr

Ten Pointer
Just hit the woods and hunt. Follow the rules. Don’t crowd people, there’s plenty of land for all of us.

Just go look for game and you’ll find it eventually. Squirrels are the best thing on earth to learn how to hunt, and the same tactics can be used on most other game.
 

appmtnhntr

Ten Pointer
Once you find a “band” of mast, just sidle around that elevation and you’ll be a lot more successful. Bonus points if you’re lucky enough to catch a logging road or something to bust the trail.
 

sears303

Button Buck
great tips and advice everyone, really appreciate the help. I have bits and pieces of what you have said already, so just trying it and getting experience seems like the way now.
 

turkeyfoot

Old Mossy Horns
Luckily small game season is long so you got plenty time to get experience. I will say is go more early as possible even though season stays open late there are lot days in Jan Feb they'll be holed up and you'll walk forever to kill couple
 

jim67

Eight Pointer
great tips and advice everyone, really appreciate the help. I have bits and pieces of what you have said already, so just trying it and getting experience seems like the way now.
Take you a shotgun for rabbit and early season squirrel. 22 for late season squirrel. Unless the squirrels are in the thick stuff as mentioned before, then a shotgun like a 20ga. But these are my opinions.
 

sears303

Button Buck
I've got a .22, been to the range several times. I have found I am overwhelmed trying to find a spot to hunt. I drove up into the Curtis Creek area of Pisgah looking for areas. Just seemed like too many people...driving, biking, camping...so I am still trying to figure out a spot to even get started. Might try Sandy Mush next week on Sat.
 

bshobbs

Old Mossy Horns
Right now with a wet ground is prime time to stalk. Just start at the woods edge, move a little and stop, watch, listen... repeat. I have killed a lot of squirrels moving about when the leaves were wet. If you shoot a squirrel, watch where he falls and just wait a few minutes. Another one may take off and give you a shot.

If you see a squirrel go around a tree to hide, get a good size stick, stand still and throw the stick to the other side of the tree. Normally the squirrel will zip around to the side you are on and give an easy shot.

Good luck...
 

sears303

Button Buck
I like that stick showing technique. I was hoping to give it a go today after the rain for the reasons you mentioned. I just don't really know of any spots to try yet. I did explore the area I drove into today, but I think it will be too congested for hunting. I can't wait to find an area and try all the tips out and see what works best for me.
 

turkeyfoot

Old Mossy Horns
I've got a .22, been to the range several times. I have found I am overwhelmed trying to find a spot to hunt. I drove up into the Curtis Creek area of Pisgah looking for areas. Just seemed like too many people...driving, biking, camping...so I am still trying to figure out a spot to even get started. Might try Sandy Mush next week on Sat.
Pisgah is huge just drive away from the popular areas find a random pull off spot and walk in. Sandy mush on a sat might be crowded
 

sears303

Button Buck
Getting out there is what it's all about I believe. Gotta practice and find those spots. I really don't enjoy Saturday's for that reason, seems to always have a crowd on weekends. Maybe the Monday hunt is the adjustment to make
 

turkeyfoot

Old Mossy Horns
Getting out there is what it's all about I believe. Gotta practice and find those spots. I really don't enjoy Saturday's for that reason, seems to always have a crowd on weekends. Maybe the Monday hunt is the adjustment to make
You just gotta get out popular areas of Pisgah I can go on a sat and have thousand plus acres to myself never see soul once walk in. Find small pull off spots away from campsites and hiking trails walk in decent way and more land than you could possibly hunt is there
 

sears303

Button Buck
I gave a couple spots a try today. Didn't even get my rifle out, just trying to roam and find a spot to even have a chance. No luck, as I was wondering around the Old Fort area of Pisgah. Very steep in there, so I don't think even if I got a shot off I would be able to physically reach the prize. It sure was a nice morning to walk some trails though, and that's really 1/2 of the attraction, so it wasn't a total loss.
 

Loganwayne

Six Pointer
I gave a couple spots a try today. Didn't even get my rifle out, just trying to roam and find a spot to even have a chance. No luck, as I was wondering around the Old Fort area of Pisgah. Very steep in there, so I don't think even if I got a shot off I would be able to physically reach the prize. It sure was a nice morning to walk some trails though, and that's really 1/2 of the attraction, so it wasn't a total loss.
If your going to hunt in the mountains you better get use to steep.


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