NORTH IOWA OUTDOORS: Squirrel Season Opens Sept. 1

Iowa hunters take note: it’s time to dust off the hunting skills and head to the woods to match wits with one of the most cunning species afield, the elusive Iowa bushy-tail. Squirrel hunting season opens Sept. 1 statewide.

“Squirrel hunters can go out knowing they’re not likely to have their hunt interfered with by other hunters,” said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “We had around 20,000 hunters harvest 100,000 squirrels in 2017.”

Squirrel hunting isn’t just for experienced hunters; it’s a season where novice hunters can learn necessary skills that can translate to other activities in the timber.

“It’s a great introduction to hunting because there is such little competition from other hunters. Novices can fail and learn from their mistakes because there is usually another squirrel over the next ridge,” Coffey said. “It can be done individually or with a group of friends often close to home. You don’t need a lot of expensive or high tech equipment just a .22 rifle or a shotgun, and clothes that help you blend in to the landscape. Then find a grove of trees, get permission and start hunting. Squirrels are a plentiful, renewable resource and a high-quality, lean protein.”

Hunting early season should focus on cooler parts of the day– early morning and late evening, then shifts to warmer parts of the day as the temperature cools. Hunters should look for timber with oak, hickory and walnut trees that produce nuts squirrels use for food.

Squirrel season is Sept. 1 to Jan. 31, 2019. The daily limit is six squirrels (either fox or gray combined) with a possession limit of 12. The Iowa DNR has an interactive map of places to hunt at www.iowadnr.gov/hunting then click on places to hunt and shoot in the left column.