Squirrel hunting season begins Aug. 25Tennessee’s hunting season for gray, fox and red squirrels opens Saturday, Aug. 25, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The season continues through Feb. 29, 2013, with a daily bag limit of 10.
Opening day of squirrel season coincides with Tennesse’s Free Hunting Day. On Free Hunting Day, all Tennessee resident hunters are exempted from hunting licenses and permit requirements.
The hunting season for squirrels is one of the longest fall seasons and one of the most underutilized, TWRA officials say.
Squirrel populations tend to rise and fall with the availability of food, primarily acorns and hickory nuts, known as hard mast.
Mast production the past few years has been fair to good and has resulted in good populations of squirrels, officials say.
Two of the most productive ways to hunt squirrels are still-hunting — slowly walking through the woods watching for squirrels — and stand-hunting — sitting near food trees.
Squirrel hunting with dogs has been gaining popularity in recent years, too, the TWRA said.
The best hunting with dogs generally occurs from November through February after the trees shed their leaves.
There are five species of tree squirrels found in Tennessee. Two species, the southern flying squirrel and the northern flying squirrel, are not hunted. They are small and nocturnal and seldom seen.
The most abundant is the gray squirrel and is found statewide. The fox squirrel, the largest of Tennessee’s squirrels, is less common than the gray, but in some areas they outnumber the grays.
Due to its large size and distinctive coloration, the fox squirrel is a trophy among the squirrel hunting ranks.
The red squirrel or “boomer” is the smallest of the hunted squirrels. It is found in the higher elevations of the Appalachian mountains of East Tennessee.
Squirrels are abundant in most areas where patches of woods are available. Excellent squirrel hunting can be found on many of TWRA’s wildlife management areas.
Squirrel hunting is one of the best ways to introduce a young hunter to the outdoors and squirrels are known for their excellent table fare, TWRA officials say.
Most recipe books have a variety of recipes for squirrel, with fried squirrel and squirrel and dumplings being two traditional southern favorites.
For more information on Tennessee hunting seasons, pick up a 2012 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide, available at all TWRA Regional Offices and at all hunting license agents or go online at www.tnwildlife.org.