The beginning of squirrel season is just around the corner, are you ready? Often revered as a celebrated American fall tradition, squirrel hunting provides the perfect opportunity to introduce youth or a novice to the sport of hunting. Unlike some big game hunts, the pursuit of bushytails often involves more action for energetic youth, providing a greater level of interaction with the outdoors.
Beginning August 15, 2011 and lasting through February 28, 2012, hunters can pursue both gray and fox squirrels. The maximum daily bag limit is 12 per hunter.
“Prior to the successful restoration of white-tailed deer, pursuing squirrels in the fall became a significant cultural hunting tradition in Georgia,” says John Bowers, Wildlife Resources Division’s Game Management assistant chief. “Squirrel hunting provides one of our best opportunities to introduce youth to hunting, instill in them our responsibilities to wildlife conservation and provide exposure to the outdoors. Additionally, it’s fun, inexpensive and provides constant action.”
Squirrel hunting, especially with squirrel dogs such as feists, terriers and curs, is a great way to introduce youth to hunting and the outdoors. In terms of number of hunters and harvest, squirrels are the second most pursued small game species in Georgia, behind doves.
Georgia’s wildlife management areas offer access to nearly one million acres of hunting opportunity for only $19 a year, and squirrel hunting is allowed on WMAs at specified times during the statewide squirrel season. Hunters are advised to check the hunting regulations for specific WMAs and dates.
The two species
Both the gray and fox squirrels can be found throughout Georgia. The gray squirrel, abundant in both rural and urban areas is the most common species. Though mostly associated with hardwood forests, grays also can be found in mixed pine/hardwood forests. Predominantly gray, with white under parts, gray squirrels appear more slender-bodied than fox squirrels, weighing anywhere from 12 ounces to one-and-a-half pounds.
Fox squirrels have several color phases, varying from silver-gray with a predominantly black head, to solid black, to a light buff or brown color tinged with reddish-yellow. Generally larger than grays, fox squirrels range in weight from one pound to nearly three, and are more closely associated with mature pine and mixed pine/hardwood habitats and especially in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions.
Editor’s Note: A photo of a squirrel is available by visiting the Division Flickr site (www.flickr.com/photos/wildliferesourcesdivision ) or by emailing Melissa Cummings at Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org .