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 Post subject: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:48 pm 
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When is the right time to start hunting small game? When the season opens obviously. Right, or maybe not?

All my life I have been told that you don't harvest game until after the first frost. This is to ensure that you don't take animals that are infested with ticks and other parasites, especially botfly larvae (wolves). No one wants to eat an animal that has a huge rotting hole in it's neck with a worm inside and to kill an infested animal would be wasteful and somewhat unethical as I was taught.

Seasons here however do not reflect what I have been taught. Squirrel season here started September 3rd and we are still seeing temperatures in the upper 80's. We even have a season for them in the middle of June that runs for a couple of weeks.

We had a warm Fall last year and I took quite a few squirrels. I saw no ticks or wolf holes.

So when do you gents start hunting? Does anyone else wait until it frosts?

On a side note, I have a question about hunting squirrels with rifles too. I bought one of those high powered nitro piston pellet rifles (1200 fps .177) over the summer for some pesky black birds that were soiling my porch and eating all the pet food. Aside from the cheap scope and the horrid trigger this thing is very impressive for an air rifle and insanely accurate considering it only cost $90. It is also quiet which is good for not scaring every squirrel in the woods when you shoot.

I don't normally hunt squirrels with a .22 out of fear of shooting into the tree tops and not knowing where the bullet might travel if I miss. I'm anxious to see how well I can do with this pellet rifle though. Pellets are around $3 per 250 - talk about a cheap supper!

Does anyone have much luck hunting with a rifle in the Fall or is it best to wait until the leaves fall off to pull the rifle out?

I suppose I am getting the itch. I went on a little nature walk today. I lost count of how many deer I saw and two of them ran by me and they were closer than fifteen feet. I didn't care about the deer but when I saw squirrels shaking limbs my heart skipped a beat and my mouth watered. I can't wait to get at it.

I appreciate your input.



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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:53 pm 
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Whenever you can go


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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:34 pm 
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Beadlescomb wrote:
Whenever you can go


Dawn it is then. :D

I think I'll carry the pellet rifle this time and see how it goes. There's a guy who lives near my camping spot who says there is an army of fox squirrels after his bird feed. Should be easy pickins.

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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 12:06 am 
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I have a friend that uses a pellet rifle to shoot the squirrels out of his fruit trees. He said it works well.

The squirrel season in Kansas opens on June 1st. I have shot a few of them in the summer time because I wanted some for chili. I have never had any issues with parasites or anything. The only thing I don't like is being mosquito food.

I hunt squirrels with rifles in .22lr and .410 shotguns. I have a tendency to leave the rifle at home until the leaves are off of the trees. After the leaves are off the trees I take whatever tickles my fancy that day. If two of us are going we usually use one rifle and one shotgun.


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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:58 am 
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I have a high quality pellet rifle (RWS .22 caliber) that is death on squirrels inside of 30 yards. If you put the pellet in the right place kill is almost instantaneous.

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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:36 am 
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To answer your question, around these parts, most of us small game hunters wait until after the first heavy frost due to the number of vipers around here. Also, squirrels have larva in them that mature and leave them.

I will point out that I don't use a pellet gun due to not wanting to cripple a squirrel. They are tough enough to kill with a 22. My favorite round for tree rats is CCI hollow points. Round nos ammo is not a good killer unless you get head shots every time. When a squirrel turns on his afterburner, you can't pick your shots. You spray and pray. A hollow point is deadly on body shots. If squirrels are heavily hunted, I take my 20 gauge and some #6s.

I use a 20 gauge shotgun with #6 shot when the mood hits me to blow the cobwebs out of my 20 gauge. I started off hunting squirrels with a 410 about 60 years ago. Then went to a 20 gauge for many years. Then I used a 12 gauge for many years. About 20 years ago, I went back to a 20 gauge for all my upland hunting and never looked back.

The swamps in our area have some large and irritable snakes so I wait until they hibernate, usually after the first heavy frost. My son wears snake proof boots but I just wait until I am sure that the snakes are gone to ground before I go squirrel and rabbit hunting.

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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 3:06 pm 
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I forgot to mention that my pellet rifle has a scope and no iron sites.

I stayed up all night after starting this thread and set out at dawn with my pellet rifle. I had my 12 ga in the Jeep as well in case I wanted to use it. I found a squirrel not long after getting to my hunting spot about twenty yards off in a tree. All I could see was the tail sticking out from behind some leaves but he was sitting still. I followed the tail with my crosshairs up to where I thought the vitals should be and fired. Pop! I heard the pellet hit the squirrel but he didn't move at first. Then he twitched a little and fell to some lower branches. He twitched once more and fell to the ground and didn't move. When I skinned him I saw that the pellet had entered his chest right next to the left side of his rib cage and exited the body right beside the spine between his shoulder blades. He died instantly and did not suffer.

I found another spot that morning with four or five squirrels running around. I got down behind a hay bale near the tree line and waited for an opportunity. I would see one and find it in my scope but they just wouldn't stop when they were exposed. I took several shots and the neat thing was that the squirrels didn't scatter when I shot. Eventually I hit another one and that was when I learned that you can't rush the shot. I'm not sure where I hit it but it didn't come out of the tree. I went back and got my shotgun hoping I would see it again but I didn't and I felt pretty bad about it.

Hunting with a scope with the leaves on the trees is a little frustrating but it is challenging and fun. You just have to be patient and remember that you aren't going to be able to get every squirrel you see.

This pellet rifle has more than enough punch to kill a squirrel humanely, you just have to be patient enough to make a good shot. I may not use it for squirrel hunting much until the leaves fall off, I'm not sure yet. I really like how quiet it is and how it doesn't tear up the meat at all. I may hunt more open stands where I can see the squirrels on the ground.

stripersonfly wrote:
I have a high quality pellet rifle (RWS .22 caliber) that is death on squirrels inside of 30 yards. If you put the pellet in the right place kill is almost instantaneous.


Do you have a preference on pellet style? I have been using the pointed ones. I shot one clean through a pine 2X4 at forty yards. Maybe the hollow points would be better for game?

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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 2:11 am 
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In my area of the world (Alabama) this is the first year squirrel and rabbit season opened in sept. it's still to hot. To many rattlers,copperheads, and cottonmouths crawling this time of year, needs to turn cold so they go in, and the wolves get out of the squirrels. I'm like everyone else uses a 410 or another gauge shotgun while the leaves are on the trees.

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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 9:47 am 
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I've always started squirrel hunting as soon as season opened in August. But, Dad always said not to hunt rabbits until after the first good hard freeze "killed off the sick ones with rabbit fever".

Rabbit Fever

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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:46 pm 
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rsr1950 wrote:
In my area of the world (Alabama) this is the first year squirrel and rabbit season opened in sept. it's still to hot. To many rattlers,copperheads, and cottonmouths crawling this time of year, needs to turn cold so they go in, and the wolves get out of the squirrels. I'm like everyone else uses a 410 or another gauge shotgun while the leaves are on the trees.


It gets down to around fifty degrees here at night but the daytime highs are around eighty. We don't have too much of a poisonous snake problem here, yet. In certain parts of the county you'll find copperheads and rattlers. They are normally up in the steep, rocky areas in the ridges. I'm thirty seven years old and I've seen one live copperhead and one dead rattler that someone had picked up out of the road.

I've skinned three squirrels and haven't seen any wolves so far. That surprises me because I hunt near cattle which draw hoards of flies.

It's hard enough right now to get a shot on one with a shotgun. Using the pellet rifle was fun but I'd never get enough to make a meal with it right now. I've switched over to my Winchester SX1. I'll use the rifle plenty this winter I'm sure. I like using it because it doesn't tear up the meat and it is quiet, and it is cheap to shoot.

Tal/IL wrote:
I've always started squirrel hunting as soon as season opened in August. But, Dad always said not to hunt rabbits until after the first good hard freeze "killed off the sick ones with rabbit fever".

Rabbit Fever


Rabbits are one thing I won't mess with until it gets cold. My dad wouldn't let us eat them at all when I was growing up so I am cautious about them. Our rabbit season opens November third I believe.

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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2016 2:59 am 
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when I was growing up in the late 50's and early to mid 60's I never heard of rabbit fever. we never hunted rabbits until the 1st killing frost. Back then it would come usually mid to late October. I always thought it was because of wolves.
I still don't know what it is.
usually a few squirrels would have wolves but some years they would just about be in every one that was killed. I don't know if they harm the meat but we never ate any with wolves in them.
The weather has changed so much now you nnever know when the first frost will be. Used to get cold in Oct. and stay cool until spring. now it may be 85 today and 50 tomorrow a person never knows when when it will be hog killing weather.
My Mother always said when they started shooting rockets in space the weather started changing and as Forrest said you never know what your gonna get.

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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:12 am 
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The right time for me to begin hunting squirrels is when it's cool enough to not be sweating and slapping mosquitoes down here in Louisiana. Since squirrel season starts in October for us, there are many days that don't qualify, according to my definition. But some do, and that's when the bell rings for me.

I haven't been out yet this year for several reasons, including the need for some maintenance on the Jeep. I've been ignoring a noisy u-joint on the Jeep because it's too hot to get on my back in the summertime to do such work. But with a couple of cool days this month, I finally got 'er done and the ole buggy is ready to hit those muddy roads.

I'll start my season this weekend.


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 Post subject: Re: When is the right time to start hunting small game?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:47 pm 
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MikePP wrote:
The right time for me to begin hunting squirrels is when it's cool enough to not be sweating and slapping mosquitoes down here in Louisiana. Since squirrel season starts in October for us, there are many days that don't qualify, according to my definition. But some do, and that's when the bell rings for me.

I haven't been out yet this year for several reasons, including the need for some maintenance on the Jeep. I've been ignoring a noisy u-joint on the Jeep because it's too hot to get on my back in the summertime to do such work. But with a couple of cool days this month, I finally got 'er done and the ole buggy is ready to hit those muddy roads.

I'll start my season this weekend.


Good luck to you.

I know the feeling with the Jeep. I drive a 96 Cherokee with 310,000 plus miles. I've spent many hot summer days patching the floorboards. I just picked up another Honda hood today to do some more patching with. There's a huge hole from my right rear wheel well all the way to the hatch. My exhaust pipe rotted off right behind the tire and my hole is pulling in a great deal of the exhaust. I really need to patch it up before it gets too cold to roll the windows down.

I've been hunting squirrels in the heat this year. So far so good. No parasites on the squirrels but I have suffered from a few mosquito bites.



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