A crisp fall morning, a .22 rifle in hand and squirrels grating on nuts; what a way to spend the day in the woods!
Ripe hickory nuts, plentiful acorns, aromatic walnuts and cool fall mornings set the stage for squirrel hunting across the Midwest. These, and other food sources, are the places to spend your time when pursuing squirrels during the fall months.
|Hunt squirrel around key food sources during the fall months to increase hunting success.|
1. Squirrels Crave Sweet Hickory Nuts
Hickory Nuts - A variety of hickory species thrive throughout the Midwest. Some, like the small pignut hickory, produce nuts in the milky stage as early as mid-July. Squirrels flock to them, often feeding in one tree until every nut has been consumed.
September brings the ripened phase for the big hickory nuts, the shagbark and shellbarks. These are the nuts which most people recognize as hickory nuts. Squirrels quickly gnaw through the green outer husk to tackle the hard inner shell. Inside is sweet nut meat, whcih squirrels crave. The rodents will travel long distances to feed on mature hickory nuts. It is not uncommon for squirrel hunters to harvest an entire limit of squirrels from one hickory tree.
Hunter should watch for activity high in the top branches, where most of the nuts are found. List en for the familiar grating sound of squirrels “cutting” on hickory nuts. Squirrels feeding on hickory nuts can often be heard before they are seen.
2. Can't go Wrong Hunting Around Acorns
Acorns are a staple food of many woodland animals and a favorite of squirrels. Oaks are the dominants tree species across much of the Midwest. The acorns of both black and white oaks provide a plentiful food supply in most years.All forest animals prefer the sweeter white oak acorns, but will readily feed on black oak acorns when the white oaks aren’t producing.
Black oaks have pointy leaf lobes and some varieties have acorns mature enough for squirrels to fee on by mid-August. Most white oak species, which have rounded leaf lobes, mature by mid-September. Squirrels begin feeding heavily on these nuts. White oak acorns are generally what squirrels are making so much leaf noise about on the forest floor during deer season.
3. Squirrels Love Black Walnuts
Black Walnuts - If squirrels made fudge, humans would never have a chance at harvesting a walnut crop. The feisty rodents can be seen packing walnuts long distances to store for the winter. It is sometimes a good hunting tactic to sit on a known travel route and shoot squirrels as they travel back and forth from walnut trees to trees where they are hoarding walnuts. Otherwise, setting up by a tree with walnut hulls littering the ground is a good option. A comfortable camp chair will help you wait them out.
4. Mushrooms are Another Source of Food for Squirrels
Mushrooms - Fall mushrooms are another food source for squirrels. Elkhorns and russulas favorites. Elkhorns are edible by humans and make a great side dish for fried squirrel. Russulas, however, are poisonous to humans.
Watching patches of mushrooms while sitting near a mast producing trees, such as oaks and hickories, is a good technique for picking up a couple of squirrels you might not have otherwise seen.
Other Foods Squirrels Like
Other Foods - Squirrels are opportunistic feeders. Their food sources change with the seasons and the ripening of food sources. Other fall food sources include corn and other grains, as well as berries and garden vegetables.