The bushytail rut: Late February is the best time to catch squirrels with their guards down
Gray squirrels’ mating season starts in December and runs throughout the month of February, although it seems as if the most intense part of the bushytail rut occurs during the last two weeks of February. This also happens to be my favorite time of the season to squirrel hunt.
This may be partially due to the fact that I take squirrel hunting for granted each year and then realize that I haven’t gotten my fill as March barrels toward us. Or, it could just be that the hunting is really good, the odds of a decent, sunny afternoon are high, and it’s just plain fun.
If you haven’t busted out the scoped .22 or .17 yet, consider it in the next two weeks. I like to still-hunt for squirrels. Once I’ve spotted one, I tend to sit down and wait. Often there will be more than just the loner in a tree, and occasionally when love is really in the air, you’ll spot four or five in the same tree.
Because of this possibility, and because I live with binoculars strapped to my chest for much of the fall, I’ve started carrying my binos on squirrel hunts. Instead of sneaking up on squirrels right away, I’ll sit back and glass the area. Even if they aren’t in the same tree, there will often be squirrels nearby.
Just like the deer rut, when squirrels are feeling frisky things often go from calm to hectic and then back to calm. It may not be as exciting as watching a 140-inch buck nosing a doe all around your stand, but it sure beats not being in the woods and not hunting.