Oklahoma Squirrel Season Open

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The month of May marks the opening of one of Oklahoma’s most available but most forgotten game animals — squirrels.

“Sportsmen who don’t spend any time hunting squirrels are missing out on a hobby they might really enjoy, not to mention a lot more time in the woods,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The squirrel season, which runs nearly nine months straight (May 15-Jan. 31), is a popular part of Oklahoma’s hunting heritage and still is recognized by many today as a great recreational activity. And though fewer squirrel hunters may take to the woods now, the opportunities to harvest game and sharpen outdoor skills through squirrel hunting are still plentiful in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is home to two species of squirrel that are legal to hunt, the gray squirrel, which inhabits the far eastern portion of the state, and the fox squirrel, which is found statewide in suitable habitats.

“Squirrel hunting is a great way to introduce a youngster to the sport of hunting because of the availability and likelihood of seeing game,” said Meek. “It’s also a great way to teach people to hunt and how to keep the sport of hunting safe. Squirrels are smaller animals, but they are a challenge to hunt. Someone who learns to hunt squirrels will also acquire many of the skills needed for hunting deer or turkey as well. Also, you have a generous bag limit of 10 squirrels per day.”

Whether pursuing bushytails with a shotgun or .22 rifle or by stalking, still hunting or following a trusty squirrel dog through the woods, hunters have no shortage of squirrel hunting opportunities. Excellent squirrel hunting can be found on Keystone, Spavinaw Hills, Deep Fork, Hickory Creek and many other wildlife management areas. Central Oklahoma residents can find good success at Lexington WMA, and hunters in northwest Oklahoma can make a trip to Canton WMA for some great and very underused squirrel hunting as well.

Sportsmen can attract squirrels to them using calls as well as find them in the woods by searching for food and habitat sign, such as areas containing hardwoods and mast-producing trees. About any tract of oaks, hickory or pecan trees can be productive. Another option is to hunt them with a dog that is bred and trained to locate squirrels.

Hunters taking to the woods after squirrels would also be interested to know that squirrel skins and/or tails may be legally sold and have brought up to $2 for whole skins in recent years.

“If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to hunt squirrels, or if you miss the great taste of the once-popular tablefare or even if you want to take your kid hunting, then you should really try to get out this year and hunt squirrels,” Meek said. “You’re sure to have a lot of fun.”

To hunt squirrels in Oklahoma, hunters need a resident or non-resident hunting license, unless exempt, and a $5 Fishing and Hunting Legacy Permit, unless exempt. Resident hunters younger than age 16 can hunt squirrels without a license. For a complete list of squirrel hunting regulations consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.