By Steve Hickoff
It won’t be long before squirrel and fall turkey seasons open. Why bother? Here’s why you might …
IT’S ALL GOOD: No matter where you chase fall turkeys, especially during some of our early hunting seasons, squirrels will likely be nearby. And if just the squirrel season is open, but not the turkey-hunting opportunity, you'll be able to get out early and scout for flocks.
Tip 1: I first learned this approach while hunting my native north-central Pennsylvania as a teenager. It was common for Keystone State sportsmen to target both fall species. Squirrels provided almost constant action on oak ridges. Often enough, turkey scratchings, droppings, and tracks could be found nearby.
FALL OPTIONS: Once you scout for and find fall turkey flocks, it can be a little easier, providing you're interested in simply filling a tag on a bird-of-the-year. If not, you can choose to hunt only adult gobblers, which might extend your autumn turkey hunts, and that's not always a bad thing. Squirrels offer action when fall turkey hunting is tough. Sometimes it’s fun to make it last. It’s also a great way to introduce a young or new hunter to our tradition.
Tip 2: One approach I've taken in the past is to set up and “stand hunt” a ridge (which of course involves sitting) where you find evidence of squirrel activity (oak branch cuttings, for instance) and wild turkey movement (fresh wedge-shaped scratchings). By hunting both, odds improve.
COMMON GROUND: After parking your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side, you can “still hunt” through the woods slowly as well, setting up on a bushytail that’s treed on your approach. Set up at the base of a nearby tree much as you would when calling a turkey (and yes, you can call squirrels too). Sure, a gunshot may briefly end that successful squirrel hunt, but I've found in big country the noise doesn't hinder your turkey hunting all that much.
Tip 3: Bowhunters can even approach their squirrel/turkey hunts more quietly of course. Are you a head-shot archer for turkeys? A squirrel is roughly the same size. It’s good practice and more food for your wild game freezer. Double on a fall turkey for your Thanksgiving table.