Biologist Billy Dukes said habitat for good squirrel hunting is a key, but not all habitat is created equal. Certain Wildlife Management Areas and key areas within those WMAs provide outstanding late-season hunting.
Dukes said there is excellent habitat on major areas such as Francis Marion National Forest, the Sumter Nation Forest and the Mountain Hunt Unit.
“In each of these very large WMAs, you still need to get to the right specific areas,” he said. “Look for the most squirrels to be found in creek and river-bottom drainages with lots of hardwoods and focus on those areas. I’d deep in the area away from other hunters, although there are not that many squirrel hunters. But squirrels do require basic woodsmanship skills to harvest in limit numbers, even when there are a lot of them around.”
Dukes said hunters should read up on specific WMA regulations to determine what areas may offer good squirrel hunting. He does recommend some WMAs.
“I’d recommend the Pee Dee WMA in Florence County, the Woodbury WMA in Marion County and the Edisto River WMA in Dorchester County as excellent gray squirrel choices,” Dukes said.
Dukes said that plenty of private lands also have excellent squirrel hunting populations. Once deer season ends, small-game hunters can sometimes get permission from landowners. Or if a hunter belongs to a club that has plenty of hardwood areas, when big-game season is over, typically, small-game hunting is allowed. He said to be sure to check that as a potential opportunity if you do belong to a club.
“Overall, I’d recommend getting maps of the areas and checking out the ones that have plenty of hardwoods,” Dukes said. “For squirrels, it’s about having the right habitat. If hunters will go to a bit of research, they can find some WMA areas with localized excellent habitat and enjoy excellent squirrel hunting.”