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Florida Squirrel Hunting?

shotgunshooter3shotgunshooter3 Senior MemberPosts: 5,982 Senior Member
Do any of our Floridians hunt tree rats? I'm considering giving it a go this fall, probably somewhere in Zone C near Hernando county.

I've never hunted tree rats before, nor have I hunted in FL yet. What do I need to know?


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"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, and speed is the economy of motion" - Scott Jedlinski

Replies

  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    I'd recommend a shotgun with low brass #6 shot. Trees will still have leaves; like year 'round where you're at. I'd also wear either snakeproof boots and/or the leggins that come up to the knees.
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  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    I still bust squirrels, but I'm right up on the Georgia/Florida line. My buddies and I use flintlocks, and not modern weapons.
    Mike is spot-on about the leaves. Forget a .22 rifle. Go with a scattergun if you really want to get any shooting in.

    'Nother thing: the squirrels are going to be about half as big as the ones you remember in the Ft. Rucker area where you were stationed. There is a biological thing, forget the correct term, that comes into play with wildlife as you geographically move south. The deer around the Withlacoochee/Ocala area will probably run around 70-80 pounds. So don't expect to bust any squirrels in the 1 pound category! Remember that Fox Squirrels are a rare and endangered species in Florida! Don't kill one! Thirty days in the electric chair if you're caught with one!

    If you're going to wade swamps and road ditches, then by all means get yourself a pair of good snake chaps. It will give you peace of mind about snakes, especially Cottonmouths, and will help in pushing through the briars and brambles.
  • Big Al1Big Al1 Senior Member Posts: 8,513 Senior Member
    You can get your limit in my yard!! I use a Gamo pellet rifle.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 12,615 Senior Member
    I don't know much about FL and fall leaves, but unless you're hunting for meat, use a .22. You won't kill as many, but you're a rifleman with a poorly chosen screen name: enough said.

    Right now, I've got a squirrel infestation in my back yard (GA) and so far I've left them alone. I can get within 10 feet of them.

    In the yard next door, there's a blonde squirrel with a beautiful (from a fly tying standpoint) almost white tail and blonde fur, but he hasn't strayed into my back yard. If so, I may "harvest" him...how much I dislike that term.
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    As I said, I do use a rifle when squirrel hunting.....a .32cal flintlock with a 42 inch barrel that's accurate beyond belief. But.....down where SS3 is talking about, central Florida, most of the hardwood tree species do not loose leaves in the fall/winter time, and seeing squirrels well enough to get off one round can be difficult. Not impossible, but very difficult at times.

    Gene....white squirrels occur in isolated pockets throughout the natural range. I occasionally see them close by where I am, and 30 or so miles to the west there is a large colony of them. Maybe 20+ square miles. In my rambling around Ga, Fl & Al cruising timber and doing forestry/wildlife projects, I found one small colony of totally black squirrels with a white tipped nose. That was over on the west edge of the Okefenoke Swamp.
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    SS3, I've hunted small game down around Ft. Myers several times on visits with my nephew. If you use a .22 and hunt by yourself, I can say that you will enjoy a nice long walk in the woods. The ONLY way you will be successful to any degree with a .22 is if you have another hunter with you. One of you walks to the opposite side of a tree with a squirrel in it, and the other hunter shoots it when it moves around away from that hunter. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the squirrel gets in a good hide on a limb and you'll never see it through the leaf canopy. And on the ground, those small FL squirrels move like they have JATO bottles strapped to their sides! :roll2:

    One other thing you need to watch for down there that I forgot about. Since you'll be squirrel hunting, you'll be moving slow and quiet. There is no way you can prepare yourself for a 'covey rise' of hogs that you surprise as you round a big clump of palmetto. Bring toilet paper and a change of underwear! :rotflmao:
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  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,577 Senior Member
    Big Al1 wrote: »
    You can get your limit in my yard!! I use a Gamo pellet rifle.

    Some truth here...

    They aren't as big here as in northern states. I'd leave the 12g shotgun at home unless they are pushed up into the taller oaks and pines. Florida oaks, maples and cedars aren't as lush as elsewhere, but in north Florida they can be as you get closer to the Appalachian foothills.

    In low trees a .22 short is fine. I usually roll .22LR and I enjoy the Aguila SS loads with heavier bullets (45-60gr). .22WMR is fine, but head shots only if you want maximum meat preservation.

    If a shotgun is your thing, a 20 gauge is plenty.

    Attire...generic camo is fine. Snake boots aren't always necessary, but wearing them is not an inconvenience either. Bring a Thermo Cell and thank me later.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,577 Senior Member
    tennmike wrote: »
    SS3, I've hunted small game down around Ft. Myers several times on visits with my nephew. If you use a .22 and hunt by yourself, I can say that you will enjoy a nice long walk in the woods. The ONLY way you will be successful to any degree with a .22 is if you have another hunter with you. One of you walks to the opposite side of a tree with a squirrel in it, and the other hunter shoots it when it moves around away from that hunter. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the squirrel gets in a good hide on a limb and you'll never see it through the leaf canopy. And on the ground, those small FL squirrels move like they have JATO bottles strapped to their sides! :roll2:

    One other thing you need to watch for down there that I forgot about. Since you'll be squirrel hunting, you'll be moving slow and quiet. There is no way you can prepare yourself for a 'covey rise' of hogs that you surprise as you round a big clump of palmetto. Bring toilet paper and a change of underwear! :rotflmao:

    I carry a .45 as a hog backup. If you have a .41mag or a .44mag that's better. Even 10mm auto.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • HAWKENHAWKEN Senior Member Posts: 1,720 Senior Member
    I used a .410 pump when the leaves were thick. After a frost, I used my Marlin 39M or my Traditions Crockett, .32 caliber muzzleloader. You will likely find as many in the cabbage palms as in the live oaks, they eat the berries, as do the deer, and they sometimes nest in them, the squirrels, not the deer. Keep yer powder dry.........Robin :wink:
    I don't often talk to people that voted for Obama, but when I do I order large fries!
    Life member of the American Legion, the VFW, the NRA and the Masonic Lodge, retired LEO
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    If it's me I'll take my 20 Gauge Pump. If I'm squirrel hunting I'm out for meat. Around here, it's probably very similar to Florida. And yes, snake boots might definitely be in order especially if it's way up in the 50s or if it's a little warm. Around here they recommend hip length leggings. If you step on a big snake he can whip around and get you in the thigh or upper leg.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
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  • 41 cal41 cal Member Posts: 97 Member
    Here in Ocala, I live in the city limits and it's legal to shoot them year long with a pellet gun so I get plenty at home. Out in the woods the main item to carry is a thermacell !, snake boots for mental security and a .22 are fine. Thermacell is definitely the best $20.00 you will spend !
    I was always taught to respect my elders, but its getting harder to find one ...
  • N320AWN320AW Senior Member Posts: 648 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Shotgun schmottgun!
    Marksmen use a rifle. A .22 rifle. I can recommend a good one, btw. :tooth:

    Why don't you chuck the 22 and get a 36 caliber muzzle loading squirrel gun? As the old timers used to do with a tree rat, sitting on a limb, just shoot right under them into the limb. The concussion usually knocks them cold. I think that method was called barking a squirrel. :roll2: Saves a lot of meat for the stew too!
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    It my save meat, but it can set up a situation similar sticking your hand in a Singer sewing machine!
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,244 Senior Member
    There is a biological thing, forget the correct term, that comes into play with wildlife as you geographically move south. The deer around the Withlacoochee/Ocala area will probably run around 70-80 pounds. So don't expect to bust any squirrels in the 1 pound category!
    They way I understand it is that the smaller, lighter bodied animals can endure the heat a whole lot better vs. the larger bodies needed to get through the winter up north.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,886 Senior Member
    Jermanator wrote: »
    They way I understand it is that the smaller, lighter bodied animals can endure the heat a whole lot better vs. the larger bodies needed to get through the winter up north.
    That, partially. It's also due to forage quality. Florida's deer forage largely is poor.

    Oh and term woodsrunner is looking for is "Bergmann's Rule."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergmann%27s_rule
    I'm just here for snark.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    Squirrel hunting is the only 'spot and stalk' opportunities available where I live (if you can find a place to do it). I prefer a scoped .22 on a drizzly day, or right after a rain. Squirrels love rainy days, and it's easier to be quiet in wet leaves. As tennmike said, it's easier with a partner (or a squirrel dog), because they will circle the tree. If your goal is really to get a 'mess' of squirrels, use a shotgun. But, if you don't mind spending 2-3 hours for 2-3 shots, a rifle is much more challenging. It's all about patience and marksmanship. I don't worry so much about snakes, because I'm searching for my next footstep without cruching a dead limb, anyway. I carry my 10mm, too, in case I accidentally sneak up into the middle of a hog herd. I've done this a couple of times, and it is unnerving.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 25,146 Senior Member
    Barking a squirrel is supposed to be ricocheting a splattered bullet or wood splinters or shot string off the tree trunk into the squirrel.

    can work, as cpj posted not a sure enough thing. I've done it, but, would not be my first choice.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    I can't imagine squirrel hunting in Florida could be very challenging. From what I can find on the net, they just sit out in lounge chairs waiting to be schwacked...

    squirrel-on-beach.jpg
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • Farm Boy DeuceFarm Boy Deuce Senior Member Posts: 6,083 Senior Member
    Six-Gun wrote: »
    I can't imagine squirrel hunting in Florida could be very challenging. From what I can find on the net, they just sit out in lounge chairs waiting to be schwacked...

    squirrel-on-beach.jpg

    How very unsporting of you.
    I am afraid we forget sometime that the basic and simple things brings us the most pleasure.
    Dad 5-31-13
  • shotgunshooter3shotgunshooter3 Senior Member Posts: 5,982 Senior Member
    Thanks for the input folks. I'm still in the "it would be neat" stage but I am going to do some more research.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    - I am a rifleman with a poorly chosen screen name. -
    "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, and speed is the economy of motion" - Scott Jedlinski
  • JeeperJeeper Senior Member Posts: 2,954 Senior Member
    Used to do plenty of squirrel hunting down here in Florida. I'd partner up with a buddy. He had a .410, and I had a scoped .22. If it was moving it was his shot. If it paused/stopped, it was mine. We rarely failed to bag any squirrels we saw.

    Luis
    Wielding the Hammer of Thor first requires you to lift and carry the Hammer of Thor. - Bigslug
  • JKPJKP Senior Member Posts: 2,567 Senior Member
    They are pests in my back yard and are treated as such. .22 makes it sporting when hunting but if you just want to load up a pile of them a 20 GA is ideal.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    The first squirrel I ever shot was with a .410, when I was about 8-9 yo. It was running along the ground and I rolled it, but didn't kill it. It ran up into a hollow 'snag' - a dead tree that the top had already fallen out of, and it was probably still about 12 feet tall. My dad walked up and laid his gun down, and began rocking the tree till it broke off and fell. Then he got a long green limb and whittled a hook on the end, and then cut off all the other limbs. He worked it up into the snag until he hit the squirrel, and then started twisting it till he caught the tail, and pulled him out. When he got the hind legs out, the squirrel was still holding on tight to the edge with his front feet. He had me conk him hard on the head with a heavy stick, and when the squirrel turned loose, my dad spun him around by his tail and dashed his head against the dead tree, whereupon he stopped squirming. It all seemed very violent and made quite an impression on me, at the time. I was very glad to see, later on, that my dad was still the same old good-natured guy he had always been, and I remembered that he had told me the rule, when he was growing up, was 'one shot = one squirrel,' so I was OK with it.

    I admit freely that I can't claim to have taken a squirrel for every shot fired at one, but then, this isn't the Great Depression, and I didn't cut my teeth on a single-shot .22 with the .22 shorts doled out to me like gold coins.
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