By Jonathan Olivier
Though many hunters have stowed their firearms and shelved their camouflage until the start of the fall hunting season, the May squirrel season presents an enticing opportunity to bring them out for a few weeks.
The statewide season started on May 3 and ends on the 25 on private land. The window to hunt public land within close proximity to Baton Rouge has closed, however. The daily bag limit is 3 while the possession limit is 6.
Those willing to step foot into the lush undergrowth on a steamy, spring morning will face a landscape differing from pleasant, fall squirrel hunts; mosquitos, snakes, spiders and hard-to-pattern squirrels can work to keep hunters on their toes.
“Squirrels are sometimes hard to pattern and success seems to be more random than hunting known food sources in the fall,” said Jimmy Stafford, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Wild Turkey and Resident Small Game Program leader, in an email.
Start Early, Finish Late
During the fall, squirrels can often be found in the early morning and late evening, feeding on sources such as acorns. But in the spring, food sources change and patterns differ.
“Squirrels are feeding on tree flowers, buds, seeds, mushrooms and any leftover acorns they can locate [in the spring],” Stafford said. “Water sources may work well midday.”
Once a squirrel is located, though, the technique remains the same. Stafford recommended using a shotgun instead of a .22 because of the leafy canopy that persists this time of year.
Barks Are Your Friend
When still hunting, Stafford said hunters that let squirrels spot them will entice them to “bark” or vocalize at the presence of perceived danger. The barking allows the hunter keep tabs on the critter while closing distance for a good shot.
But those with dogs have the best chance for success during the short season, Stafford said. Dogs can better locate the squirrels and keep them bayed in a tree, which allows the hunter to get into close range for an accurate shot.
The May season was started to primarily cater to those training a squirrel dog. The short season and low harvest number served as a small window to get young dogs some much-needed experience.
Now, many hunters see the few weeks as an excuse to explore the woods, or to, perhaps, ease some hunting withdrawals.