Squirrel hunting is a simple, affordable, and rewarding way to experience the outdoors in Indiana. There are four species of tree squirrel in Indiana:
Fox and gray squirrels are regulated species in Indiana and can be hunted from Aug. 15, 2023 – Jan. 31, 2024. Hunter orange is required from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31. The daily bag limit is five. The possession limit is 10. Shooting into dreys (leaf nests) are illegal.
American Red Squirrels can be taken year-round with no bag limit. Hunter orange is required from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31. Shooting into dreys (leaf nests) are illegal.
Southern Flying Squirrels are protected and cannot be hunted.
Gear & Equipment
- What gear do I need to go squirrel hunting?
Wear a good pair of boots, clothes that are warm/breathable depending on the season, and earth tones. Bring a backpack with you for your supplies, such as squirrel calls. Also bring a game pouch or vest.
- What kind of firearm do I need to squirrel hunt?
A shotgun with #6 pellets is common for squirrel hunting, especially for early season hunts. A rimfire rifle can be used in late season or for those who want noise reduction. Scopes can increase accuracy but are not required.
- Habitat Requirements & Food Sources
While squirrels are widespread throughout Indiana, it’s best to pinpoint locations with high concentrations of hard-mast trees, such as hickories or oaks, which they use as habitat.
- Spotting Squirrels
It's easiest to spot squirrels when they are moving. You may see them chasing, foraging, or jumping in treetops. Because their colors help them blend in and they can hide in small spaces, parts of them may be obscured when they are not moving.
There are other ways to identify when squirrels are around you:
- Vocalizations (barks, whines, chitters)
- Cutting – squirrels breaking open nuts and eating them
- Falling nuts – both out of trees and from cutting
- Movement in trees/shaking branches
- Scurrying on the ground
- Squirrel Signs
When animals move about a landscape, they frequently leave evidence that they were there, whether through prints, scat, nests, or teeth marks.
- Tracks: Their front paws have four toes, while their hinds have five toes. Their prints typically appear in a bound pattern with fronts first followed by wide-spread hinds.
- Nests/Dreys: These appear as messy clusters of leaves and twigs or in tree cavities.
- Feeding: Squirrels eat nuts by opening shells to reach the edible portions inside. If you see shells on the ground, look up and you may find the branch that the squirrels have been perching on above you.
During the Hunt
View the Where to Hunt Map for a list of hunting properties near you.
- Ethical Shooting
- Taking an ethical shot means taking all factors surrounding safety into consideration when hunting. An ethical shot kills the squirrel quickly, allows for recovery of the animal, and doesn’t cause harm to other animals or people.
- Since squirrels are often in trees, be mindful of shooting upward. Have a tree or other topography behind the squirrel to shoot at. Be extra careful when hunting near residential areas and do not shoot in their direction. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
- Avoid shooting the squirrel if it is above an area like a large crook in the tree that it could get lodged in when falling.
- Focus on safety anytime you are hunting or using firearms.
- Shoot at an upward angle with a .22. A safer option for shooting up into trees in areas where there is risk of dwellings nearby is to use a shotgun or air rifle. Although shotguns are louder, their shot is not lethal over a long distance, so they are safer to use when hunting in a semi-populated area.
- Hunting methods
- Still Hunting
- Still hunting refers to a style of hunting where you move slowly through an area while stopping frequently to look and listen. Hunters should spend more time stopping to look and listen than they should walking.
- If you spot a squirrel that’s outside your effective range, sit and wait or move in closer without detection. Earlier in the season, there is a higher chance that the squirrel will not be educated to human hunters and will not seek cover as you approach.
- Sit and Wait
- Find an area where you know squirrels are active. Sit in a spot that gives you a good vantage point but is also in range of making an ethical shot. Wait until a squirrel is close enough to position your gun.
- Still Hunting
- Squirrel Dogs
- Dogs can be used for squirrel hunting. Be sure to check the state property you plan to hunt at for its restrictions and have your hunting license with you when you go.
- Feist and Mountain Cur are two popular dog breeds for hunting dogs. Hound breeds like the Norwegian elkhound, blueticks, redticks, and black and tans are other good options.