The 2013-14 Illinois hunting season began on Thursday of this week with the opening of the squirrel season. Squirrel hunting offers an opportunity for hunters to get out early and get the opening day jitters off their backs.
This season’s Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations 2013-2014 will give you all the information you need to hunt this season. The pamphlet has two tom turkeys on its cover and is loaded with information for the hunter and trapper. Pick up your copy today!
Squirrel season in Illinois runs through Feb. 15, but is closed during the firearm deer seasons, Nov. 22-24 and Dec.r 5-8 in counties that have a firearm deer season. The limit for squirrels is five per day with a possession limit of ten. Hunting hours for squirrels are a half-hour before sunrise to half-hour after sunset.
If you find the hickory trees in the woods you are hunting, you will generally find the squirrels. I always refer to the hickory trees as the “beacons of the forest” because they will attract the squirrels.
Actually Aug. 1 is very early and many of the nuts on the hickory trees have not matured. It is normally very hot and the canopy of the woods is very thick this time of the year so squirrels are more difficult to hunt during these very early days of the season. When I was younger and hunting squirrels they always came in on Sept. 1, but due to their increase in numbers, the IDNR now brings the season in Aug. 1.
By early September, hickory nuts and walnuts, the main staple of the squirrel’s diet are mature enough for eating and, when standing under a big hickory tree, the falling nut fragments sound like a rain shower.
In hunting squirrels over the years I have always found that many of the nuts are down on the ground by Oct. 10 and I would always change my tactics by watching and listening to ground level rather than in the trees by that time of the year. Many of the leaves have fallen or are beginning to fall by then, the air is normally cool and this was always my favorite time of the season to hunt the little rodents.
I am sure not as many hunters are out there hunting squirrels these days as there were twenty years ago but a fun hunt it still is and the hunt is now on!
I had a lady call me a week ago telling me I had made her day. She had seen a black squirrel with an orange tail near where I had reported seeing one several weeks ago. Unfortunately her husband didn’t see it and the family therefore told her she was nuts. Then she read this column; now I guess two of us are nuts.
One of my friends accused me of seeing pink deer, etc. Keep your eyes open, you just never know what you might see.
Did you know that there is a Tree Stand Safety course that you can find online. Tree stand safety is a very important part of deer hunting that hunters need to take seriously. You can find this course at http://www.huntercourse.com/treestandsafety/ I would recommend any deer hunter check out this program and incorporate it into your hunting plans this season.
Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Fridays and Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org