Squirrel season a great introduction for new hunters

Small game, particularly squirrel, is a great way to introduce youth or novices to hunting. Skills, equipment and licensing are more basic than other types of hunting.

“A hand-me-down .22 rifle or smaller gauge shotgun and almost any hardwood stand of trees can offer a successful endeavor for a new hunter,” Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Hunter Education Coordinator Jackson Ellis said.

Squirrel season – Aug. 1 through Jan. 31, 2019 – is the first of Nebraska’s fall hunting seasons. This leaves the hunting woods available to novices and their mentors.

“The skills that can be learned in pursuit of these tree-dwellers can quickly have you advancing to larger game species, such as turkey and deer, once your confidence and experience grows,” Ellis said.

Nebraska residents younger than age 16 can harvest squirrels without a hunt (small game) permit or Nebraska Habitat Stamp. 

Residents 16 and above and all nonresidents require the permit and stamp. 

A Hunter Education certificate is required for anyone age 12 through 29 who hunts with a firearm.

Squirrels may be hunted statewide, but no hunting is allowed on state refuges and sanctuaries. The daily bag limit is seven squirrels, and the possession limit is 28.

Before a hunt, scout locations for trees that bear mast, as it could pay off when it is time to hunt. Squirrels prefer to eat the nuts of oaks, hickories and walnuts. They will eat other types of nuts and fruit when preferred food types are not available. 

Experienced and inexperienced hunters alike always should follow the basic rules of firearm safety:

• Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

• Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

• Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

• Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

“Taking a new hunter along on a squirrel hunt in the woods also develops a novice’s sense of stewardship of natural resources and appreciation for conservation,” Ellis said.

Hunt permits may be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org. Read the 2018-2019 Small Game Guide at Outdoornebraska.gov/guides for more hunting information.

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

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