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A squirrel sits on a tree limb, best times to hunt squirrel concept.
Field Guide -Small Game

The Best Time to Hunt Squirrels

With over 200 different species, squirrels are one of the most familiar rodents located all over the world. They're also among the most popular small game species to hunt, but when is the best time to hunt these animals?

There are plenty of good reasons to add squirrel hunting to your plans every year. In some places, their numbers become a nuisance that needs to be controlled. Squirrel hunting also teaches valuable skills that hunters can apply to hunting other game, like whitetail or turkey. 

You might even enjoy the taste of squirrel meat in your wild game recipes! 

No matter your reason for hunting squirrels, make sure you plan your time based on the variables that can help you have a more successful hunt. Keep reading to learn what to consider for your next squirrel hunt!

A squirrel on a branch in the winter, best time to hunt squirrels concept.

All About Squirrels

With so many different species, squirrels are one of the most familiar rodents located all over the world. 

They belong to the same family as prairie dogs, chipmunks, and marmots. The most commonly recognized species is the tree squirrel, which makes its home in – you guessed it – the trees. However, ground squirrels are also common, living in burrow or tunnels. 

While it varies slightly between species, a squirrel's diet typically consists of nuts, leaves, roots, seeds, berries, and other plants. Some squirrels eat small insects and even baby birds. However, being relatively low on the food chain, squirrels must always be vigilant to protect themselves from predators. 

Squirrels are an excellent species to hone your skills and introduce your kids to the sport of hunting. They move quickly, and their small stature can help you fine-tune your reflexes and aim before your next deer or turkey hunting trip.

What to Consider When Hunting Squirrels

So, what should hunters consider when attempting a squirrel hunt? The following variables can help you determine the best time and locations for a successful squirrel hunt. 

The Type of Squirrel

It can be difficult to tell one squirrel from another. However, not all species of squirrels are legal to hunt. 

In most locations, gray and fox squirrels are considered wild game and legal to hunt. However, flying squirrels and tassel-eared squirrels are not legal to kill. 

If you're not sure if the squirrel outside your window is okay for you to hunt, check with your local or state authorities on squirrel species and regulations for hunting. 

The Location

You can probably look out your window and find a squirrel or two in your yard or a nearby tree. However, depending on where you live, you might not be able to hunt squirrels in your own backyard without creating a dangerous situation for your neighbors. 

Despite any location limitations, there is no shortage of squirrels available for your hunt. Squirrels live on almost every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Tree squirrels typically live in wooded areas, while ground squirrels live in burrows underground. 

Generally speaking, squirrels will live anywhere where there is plentiful food and shelter from the threat of predators. Just make sure the location you choose to hunt for squirrels doesn't put other animals or humans in harm's way. 

The Solunar Calendar

Unlike larger animals, a full moon minimizes the movement of small animals like squirrels. Because predators can easily spot them during a full moon, squirrel activity tends to decrease, so they remain hidden when the moon is more prominent in the sky. 

However, you'll also see squirrels out and about on sunny days. So, planning your hunt based on moon phases may not be necessary to harvest plenty of squirrels. 

The Time of Year

The best time of year to hunt for squirrels is during the fall months when they forage for food. 

Squirrel movement decreases significantly in the winter months, with some squirrel species even hibernating during this time. Spring is also a busy time of year for squirrels. At this time of year, they emerge from their dens to search for food. 

If you prefer warmer temperatures for your squirrel hunt, wait until spring. 

The Time of Day

As we mentioned, regardless of the moon phase, squirrels are typically active throughout the day. This is especially true during the fall and spring months when they actively search for food after exhausting their winter food stores. 

However, as with most animals, your best chances to hunt are at dawn or dusk.  

The Temperature

As temperatures drop in late fall, squirrel activity significantly increases as they search for food to store for the winter. This is an ideal time to stock your freezer with squirrel meat for the year. 

Then, squirrel activity decreases in the cold winter months as they live off the supply of their fall forage. So, plan your hunts in the late fall or the early spring to target squirrel activity during warmer seasons. 

Barometric Pressure

Squirrels can sense the change in barometric pressure. Their activity increases if they sense an oncoming front. Drops in the barometric pressure will send squirrels on a feeding spree. 

Use the HuntWise app to check the barometric pressure in an area you want to target for squirrel hunting, then plan your hunt accordingly.  

General Weather Conditions

Squirrels, much like us, enjoy bright, calm, sunny days. Dry days are also ideal for hunting as squirrels can be easily heard in the woods rustling through the brush and leaves. 

However, don't skip a squirrel hunting day because of a little rain. Rainy days can also be good for squirrel hunting, but the stronger the rain and wind, the more likely the squirrels are to seek shelter.  


Wind is another important factor to consider when hunting squirrels. A little wind won't significantly affect their behavior, but strong winds can make hunting squirrels difficult, as they will prefer to stay safely in their dens. 

If they do come out on a windy day, they will be harder to hear moving among the trees or leaves.

Close-up of HuntWise features for squirrel hunting success.

HuntWise Helps You Find the Best Time to Hunt Squirrels

Squirrels aren't typically very hard to find. However, finding the best time to hunt and harvest a few of these animals for your favorite recipe can be challenging without the right tool. 

HuntWise is the best tool for planning a successful squirrel hunt. Use the HuntCast™ and WindCast features to target the ideal conditions for a day in the field with squirrels as your target! By hunting squirrels, you'll sharpen your hunting skills and learn more about how HuntWise can help you find land, mark good spots, and track your walking path so you're ready for any animals you hunt each season. 

Download it and try it for a week free on us! 


Content updated February 14, 2024.

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