Deer hunting season is now over for hunter in both Carolinas, and many hunters didn’t even notice that squirrel hunting season slipped in quietly a couple of months ago as well. Let’s face it, who wants to shoot a tree rat when you can shoot a big deer instead?

More people than you’d think, actually. Especially hunters who like a lot of action as opposed to most deer hunts.

Squirrels don’t seek heavy cover the way deer do this time of year, so they are pretty easy to find. An oak grove full of acorn droppings will hold plenty of squirrels, and a few tips can help you bag more than most hunters.

“Patience is key. People say that about fishing, but it’s more true with squirrel hunting, especially after you’ve shot the first squirrel of the hunt,” said Richie Boykin of Bishopville, S.C. 

“You’re going to be tempted to shoot the first squirrel you see, but patience will pay off here. If you wait, other squirrels will show up. Often, they’ll chase each other around a tree trunk, and just as often, multiple squirrels that are just doing their own thing will be visible to you if you don’t pull the trigger too soon,” he said.

And when you do pull the trigger, don’t fetch that squirrel. Let it lie in place. 

“When you walk over to pick up a squirrel, all the rest are going to scatter. They’re going to avoid that area for a long time. Make a good mental note of where that squirrel is, then wait. The other squirrels will hide once they hear your gun, but most are just hiding on the other side of whatever tree they were on when you pulled the trigger. It’s very rare for them to run away at the sound of a gun. They just hunker in place, and observe their surroundings carefully. This is where patience comes even more into play,” Boykin said.

“It may take 5 minutes, which can seem like 30. It may take 7 minutes. It may take 10. But one thing is for sure. If you give up your position now, it’s going to be a lot longer before you find yourself covered up in squirrels again, and right now, they are all around you, just minutes away from presenting you with another shot. Be patient, and be ready,” he said.