Squirrel hunting, a beneficial tradition

For many hunters, the first memories of hunting are following an adult through the woods searching for squirrels. Unfortunately, this is becoming less and less common.

The number of squirrel hunters has steadily decreased in recent years. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ website, the number of squirrels taken in a year has decreased from around 1,350,000 in 1983 to under 400,000 in 2010.

Many people who hunt do not bother with squirrels and other small game and instead go after pheasants, ducks and, especially, big game like deer.  When hunters forget squirrels, they miss out on the benefits that go along with squirrel hunting.

Squirrel hunting is an excellent way to introduce children to the sport.  While deer are hunted with larger guns, squirrels are normally shot with .22 rifles or .410 shotguns that are light enough for a child to carry and aim properly.  Children and adults can learn to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of nature as they hunt together.  In addition, squirrel hunting provides a learning experience in respecting the environment and how important it is to preserve it.

Squirrels are relatively small and can move quickly, so a hunter must shoot well to hit them.  Learning to hit a small target like squirrels teaches people to be patient and calm when they shoot which can help the hunter stay calm and avoid the dreaded “buck fever” when he or she goes deer hunting in the future.

Beginning hunters learn to stalk quietly through the woods searching for the squirrels.  Stalking is an important skill and will help them in future pursuits that require as little noise as possible in the woods. In addition the learning how to maneuver quietly and effectively, squirrel hunting helps inexperienced outdoorsmen learn to navigate over less-than-ideal terrain and find their way without getting lost.

People spend less time doing physical activity now than they did in earlier years.  Computers, video games, television and other indoor activities have taken over the time people used to spend with outdoor activities.  Squirrel hunting is an excellent low stress way to get people outside and exercising.  While hunting, people can walk long distances through woods, and up and down hills to find game without even realizing how much exercise they are actually getting.

Squirrel hunting introduces children to hunting, promotes exercise, teaches hunters patience and encourages respect for nature.  If this form of hunting falls to the wayside and continues to be forgotten, America will lose one of its oldest traditions and all the benefits that go with it.