Small game hunting: fun for before and after deer season

Eric Davis

Mayhood's Sporting Goods

CHENANGO COUNTY – You might have asked someone how they got into hunting at some point in your life. One of the most common stories you hear 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. The nice part about the start date is it 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 treestand can be beneficial later during deer season while supplying some meat for delicious stew for dinner. Early squirrel hunting can be a little tricky though, as heavy leaf cover on the trees that haven't fallen off yet.

Typically a shotgun loaded with no. 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. A single projectile means you won’t find random pieces of shot in the meat later. When hunting squirrels, pay close attention to your back drop when getting ready to shoot, especially when a squirrel is up in the crown of a tree.

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