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Squirrel Hunting in Ohio

They may be small, but squirrels are one of the most exciting small game animals you can hunt.

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Squirrel Hunting in Ohio

Grey Squirrel

Ohio Squirrels

Squirrel season is among us, and I can't wait to get into the woods and get after them! The hunting season in Ohio started September 1st and runs to January 31, 2023, with a daily limit of 6. There are four types of squirrels that currently roam Ohio: Eastern Gray, Eastern Fox, Red, and Southern Flying Squirrel.

The Eastern Gray squirrel typically lives to be about 6 years old but can live up to 12 years if they are lucky. In the wild, they are found in large, dense deciduous forests with mature trees that provide plenty of nuts. I'd like to throw in here that some gray squirrels are actually black! Weird right?! It's believed to result from a faulty pigment gene, but no one is sure how this morph evolved. I have had the pleasure of seeing these guys run around on a trip I took to Cleveland once. I'm not sure I could bag one of them in the woods though. It would be like taking an albino deer. No thank you.

Next up is the American Red Squirrel, experiencing severe mortality rates during their first year, only about 20% of the babies survive. If they are one of the lucky ones, they can live up to 8 years. They are much smaller in size compared to the gray and fox squirrels, and easy to identify due to their red hue and white bellies. Because they are primarily found in coniferous forests, their diet consists of seeds from evergreen trees but can adjust their diet to their surroundings.

The largest tree squirrel in Ohio is the Eastern Fox Squirrel, with a lifespan of up to 12 years. It possesses a grayish-brown fur coat with orange hair on their belly and the edge of their tail. They are mostly found in small deciduous forests, spending most of their time on the ground foraging for food - and watch out for that 15-foot leap range!

The last squirrel on this list you will not be hunting, but I wanted to share all the species with you. The Southern Flying Squirrel is rarely seen, as they are nocturnal creatures and spend most of their waking hours at the tops of the forest canopies. While their name suggests otherwise, they cannot fly and do not have wings. Instead, they have folds of skin under their arms, called patagium, which extends from their wrists to their ankles, and allows them to glide from tree to tree. They can live up to five years, but it is rare due to the number of predators. They have reddish-brown or gray fur and a cream-white belly. Their large black eyes, used to see at night, take up most of their head. These squirrels are more common than anyone realizes and will visit your bird feeders at night. If you ever see one, it will be a spectacle.

Weapon Choice

Woman Hunting Squirrel

There are several options to consider when hunting squirrels, but the two I prefer are the shotgun or rimfire rifle. Due to the large spread of shotgun shell, you have a better chance of hitting your target. However, you will need to spend some time picking pellets out of the meat. In the early season, the trees are still full of leaves, making the shotgun a more suitable choice. However, my weapon of choice is the .22 caliber rifle. It is more accurate than a shotgun, and you won't spend that extra time digging out pellets. The rifle allows you to get a more precise shot, which is nice since you will want to aim for the head to preserve the meat.

If guns aren't your choice of weapon, you could always try bow hunting. You will want to have some undeniable accuracy, as squirrels are always on the move. Using a broadhead that is specifically designed for small game, rather than a larger broadhead will help preserve the meat. Additionally, using a good squirrel dog is a guaranteed way to reach your daily limit. While training a squirrel dog can be tricky, the outcome is worth the extra effort. However you decide to bag your squirrels, make sure to pack your binoculars!

Tracking and Stalking

There are two techniques when it comes to squirrel hunting: passive and active hunting. Passive hunting involves finding a location and waiting for them to come to you. Active hunting involves you stalking them through the woods. While both methods are effective, I would rather let them come to me.

Once the leaves have fallen, it's best to hunt from late morning to early afternoon. Before that, mornings and evenings are the prime time to hunt. You will want to be patient! That is the number one key to a successful hunt. Don't try to shoot them while they are moving. It's best to wait until they are stopped. Camouflage will help you be less noticeable but is not necessary as any earth-toned color clothing will do. These rodents can cover a lot of ground around you and are very skittish. Any loud noises will have them heading for their nests. Keep the sun to your back, as to keep the squirrels from easily spotting you. Listen for distinctive sound patterns such as chattering, scratching, and debris falling to the ground. Squirrels are notoriously messy eaters; look for unmistakable signs of squirrel activity, such as broken acorns, shredded pinecones, nests, and bark scattered on the ground around the trees.

While they are small, they can be some of the loudest animals in the woods. Occupying areas close to water and mast bearing trees, these critters stay busy stockpiling for winter. Their diet usually consists of acorns, hickory nuts, black walnuts, pinecones, berries, and corn. They are most active during the day and spend a good amount of time in the treetops when the weather is clear and sunny. They can be caught on the ground when it's raining, or some fog has rolled in. When threatened, the squirrel will run in a zigzag pattern to escape. Hunting these small rodents is a challenge to beginners and seasoned hunters alike.

Once you get your squirrels home, there are lots of yummy ways to prepare them. I've only ever had them fried up but I'm looking forward to trying some new recipes. A buddy of mine suggested some squirrel rollups, so that will be next on my dinner table. Leave me some of your favorites in the comments below!

Parker Hall's Famous Squirrel Rollups

Serving Size: 4
Recipe by Steven Rinella at

When you eat as many squirrels as Parker Hall, you need to find ways to move beyond the classic recipes. His squirrel rollups are a novel way to cook this delicious meat, and it's kid friendly.

The recipe is fairly simple. Once you have it down, you can adapt it to your own tastes and fill the rolls with whatever ingredients you like.


  • 6 squirrels, cleaned and skinned
  • 2 cups of wild game or chicken stock
  • 3 peppers, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Fresh herbs, like thyme or sage
  • Cream cheese (or if you prefer, shredded cheese)
  • 1 - 8 oz tube of crescent rolls
Squirrel in Slow Cooker


  1. Season the squirrels with salt and pepper and place in a crockpot, pouring in enough stock to almost cover the squirrels. Cook on low until the meat is tender enough to pull from the bones, or about 6 hours.
  2. Remove the squirrels from the pot, allow to cool, and pick all the meat from the bones shredding it as you go.
  3. Lay out the crescent roll dough on a baking sheet. Top with shredded squirrel meat, sliced onions, sliced peppers, a hunk of cheese, and fresh herbs.
  4. Roll the crescent rolls around the filling, tucking the ends underneath to keep the filling from spilling out.
  5. Place in a 350-degree oven until the dough is fully cooked and golden brown, or about 30 minutes.