The editor asks if it’s worth targeting greys in the warm weather
Stalking squirrels in the summer? No, says the editor. Static is the way to go
W hen I was 17, I was taken under the wing of a renowned, some might say infamous, local squirrel shooter who taught me a huge amount about the skills and craft needed to be successful in pursuing this tricky quarry. His ability to find squirrels was legendary, and only exceeded by his skill in shooting them with open sights.
As soon as the leaves began to fill the trees each spring, he put his Original model 45 back into the cupboard, where it stayed until autumn has done its best to remove them. Summer squirrels just didn’t exist in Albert’s world, no matter how hard I tried to get him to take me out. However, today my situation is different; because of the huge damage they do around my shoot, I get constant pressure to cull them and recently the keeper was on my back because they’re driving him mad.
So, the question is, can they be successfully hunted in summer? If you have feeders out then the answer is clearly ‘yes’, but if you’re just on foot and hoping to find them in your travels, the odds will be very long.
Your best chance is to find what they’re feeing on and sit it out in the hope that they’ll give themselves away. Gnawed shells on the ground below beech and hazel trees are a strong sign that they’re feeding well, and it’s worth staking out that area regularly before they eat all the summer harvest.
Just strolling about and hoping to find them is pretty much a waste of time, in my view. I recommend searching for feeding areas as your number one priority, perhaps even leaving the rifle at home until your reconnaissance work is done. Once you find these feeding sites, you can return to them every year without the need to search again.
Staying still and quiet in a full camo outfit will swing the odds in your favour, and learning to study every branch, inch by inch, is a skill worth learning, too. Low- powered binoculars are another great help, most especially those with a wide field of view. It’s probably worth taking a seat or a cushion, too, because you’ll likely be waiting around for long periods, so you might as well be comfortable. Patience will be required, but you must be ready to take a shot at a moment’s notice when your quarry appears, or your chance might be lost.
“Your best chance is to find what they’re feeding on”
ABOVE: When you do get a chance you’d better take it now!
BELOW: If you can find where they’re eating, you’re in with a chance