Ed­die con­cludes his ex­cel­lent se­ries on squir­rel hunt­ing with tips on how to get those ‘ex­tra’ ones

Ed­die Jones con­cludes his se­ries on how to be­come an ex­pert squir­rel hunter

Air Gunner - - Contents -

The past two fea­tures have given ad­vice on how to get to know the squir­rel, and how best to achieve the num­bers re­quired to con­trol them pretty quickly on your per­mis­sions. To fin­ish off the se­ries, here are some more tips to help you gain those ex­tra squir­rels when you are out for a walk, rather than sit­ting up and wait­ing on a feeder.

Au­tumn, win­ter and spring are un­doubt­edly the best times to shoot squir­rels be­cause we have less cover to get through, but it can still be a job to find them at any time of year if they are sit­ting tight against a tree. When we’re walk­ing through the wood, we want to see the squir­rels well be­fore we are in shoot­ing range, and this means walk­ing as qui­etly as pos­si­ble. I like to look as far as 100 yards through the trees as I am walk­ing, be­cause I want to know roughly where the squir­rel is, just in case I lose sight of it. If I do lose sight of the squir­rel, nine times out of ten it will be be­cause it has spot­ted some move­ment and is hid­ing just enough to be able to watch what I am do­ing, whilst keep­ing it­self hid­den from me. I don’t worry be­cause I know the squir­rel is close, oth­er­wise I would have seen it run­ning through the trees to get away, so now is the time to get those eyes work­ing and find him.


When I first started to hunt squir­rels more se­ri­ously, I’d stay in the area for up to an hour. I would not give up search­ing the trees that I knew it could be in, and I’d find it. Do­ing that cer­tainly helped me to see more than I would if I’d just scanned the trees quickly, not seen it, and moved on to the next squir­rel. When you study the trees for a long time, you start to no­tice lit­tle things that are not quite right; you might look and think you’re just see­ing part of a branch, but it could be a leg or a foot, or its head could be stick­ing up just enough that it looks like a bit of bark raised on a branch.

You will see the squir­rel at some point, but be­cause you are not iden­ti­fy­ing it straight away, your mind tells you that it isn’t there. When look­ing up through the branches, use your imag­i­na­tion. Does that lit­tle bit stick­ing up on that branch look nor­mal? In most cases it will be noth­ing, but you don’t know for cer­tain. You have to check and check time and time again. Only then will you learn that the most in­signif­i­cant lit­tle bump on a branch could be the squir­rel try­ing to hide from you.


Shoot­ing squir­rels on your own can be some of the most frus­trat­ing hunt­ing you will en­counter. I have lost count of the times I have chased a squir­rel up a tree and spent 20 min­utes go­ing around it and not see­ing any­thing. I then get a sight of it five feet higher than me be­cause it’s been creep­ing round the trunk, out of sight, and mak­ing me look a right twit. You then start to speed up as you try and try to get him to run up, but there’s not a chance. The faster you run round the tree, the faster he goes around, un­til you feel dizzy or sick. I did this for a long time un­til one day when an old chap who I had not no­ticed watched me do­ing it. He was in stitches. If he’d been 30 years younger I might have clocked him one, but he gave me the sim­plest piece of ad­vice and never again did I run around a tree.

“Put your coat up on that branch, young lad,” he said.

“look as far as 100 yards through the trees as I am walk­ing, be­cause I want to know roughly where the squir­rel is”

I looked at him, puz­zled. What dif­fer­ence would that make? I did what the old fella said, though, and to my sur­prise, that squir­rel hes­i­tated. It stopped go­ing round and showed just enough of its head for me to get the shot.

The squir­rel had thought there was some­one there, made it stop to think for a few sec­onds, and that was enough for me to shoot it. I have adopted that ap­proach thou­sands of times over the years and it was one of the best bits of ad­vice that I had ever been given when it came to shoot­ing squir­rels.


An­other good way of get­ting the shot when a squir­rel keeps mov­ing round is to take some­one shoot­ing with you. I shot alone for many years, un­til my dad started to take an in­ter­est and then started to come with me. Work­ing in pairs makes a great dif­fer­ence. You can get your­self rested and as steady as pos­si­ble, and then the other per­son can walk around to the other side of the tree. The squir­rel will be watch­ing the walker and not see you next to the tree ready and wait­ing. Once the squir­rel comes into sight, I usu­ally whis­tle for my dad to stop. I’m as steady as I could ever be and 99% of the time I hit the mark.

As said last month, do not for­get your aim point; the greater your an­gle the higher your pel­let will strike, so if you are only go­ing for squir­rels you could zero the ri­fle on an av­er­age dis­tance up a tree; that will save you us­ing hold-un­der, and any shots you take will be good enough for a clean kill.

The last piece of ad­vice I could give any se­ri­ous squir­rel shooter is to get the lat­est bit of kit that I am us­ing. This one piece of kit has dou­bled my shot count when I shoot alone. It is not a cheap bit of gear either, and I would only sug­gest get­ting this if you are se­ri­ous about your pest con­trol.

I’m talk­ing about a ther­mal spot­ter. I have never lost a squir­rel up a tree since us­ing this equip­ment, un­less it has run in­side a hole in the tree. I no longer have to search for ages be­cause the squir­rel shows it­self within min­utes. Ther­mal spot­ters are a game changer and I no longer go on a se­ri­ous squir­rel hunt­ing trip with­out one. A squir­rel will al­ways want to see where you are, even when it is hid­ing from you, and a ther­mal spot­ter will pick up its head no mat­ter how much is in view, and that is all we need to make a kill. I know that this is not hunt­ing, and when I don’t need to shoot ev­ery squir­rel I see in the wood, I won’t take it. I still love the thrill of the hunt and that will never be re­placed by tech­nol­ogy.

I hope this se­ries about my squir­rel con­trol will help you to gain a few more shots. It takes years of learn­ing, so don’t miss an op­por­tu­nity to go out and put your hard work into prac­tice. You will not learn any­thing sit­ting in a nice warm liv­ing room watch­ing TV, al­though you do wish you had done that some­times, once you’re out!

Us­ing the ther­mal spot­ter is so much more ef­fi­cient

Above: Do not be tempted to hit the squir­rel any­where other than in the head, you will only cause in­jury. Also do not shoot for a heart shot

Be­low: When aim­ing for a rel­a­tively flat shot, make sure you go for a head shot only. The shot should be just be­hind the eye When shoot­ing up­ward at squir­rels, make sure you use hold- un­der

I love my squir­rel con­trol op­por­tu­ni­ties

I love this Pul­sar ther­mal im­ager more then I can say

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