CHENANGO COUNTY – One of the most common stories you hear when you ask someone how they got into hunting, is how they hunted squirrels or rabbits as a kid.
Small game hunting can be a great 'blast from the past' if you haven’t gone in awhile and a great way to introduce new hunters to the sport. There typically are two ways to look at small game hunting, before or after deer season.
Squirrel season is one of the first seasons to open, starting on September 1, each year. This allows you to get out into the woods while the weather is still pretty reasonable. Warm weather lets you take youth hunters who might not want to hunt in the extreme cold of winter. Thinning out the squirrels around your favorite tree stand can be beneficial later during deer season while supplying some meat for delicious stew.
Early squirrel hunting can be a little tricky due to heavy leaf cover on the trees that haven’t even begun to think of falling off. Typically a shotgun loaded with #5 or 6 shot will suffice as it has large enough pellets to penetrate through the leaves with enough kinetic energy to remain lethal. Once the leaves start to fall and the tree tops are more open, a .22 rifle with a scope – or iron sight if your eyes are still good – will allow you to shoot a little farther and more accurately.