Forecast Good For Tennessee Squirrel Season

Friday, August 22, 2008 | 12:00 am

Tennessee’s hunting season for gray, fox and red squirrels opens Saturday, August 23 as established by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The opening day of the season is also Free Hunting Day across the state when all resident hunters are exempt from hunting licenses and Wildlife Management Area permits requirements.

Squirrel season will run continuously through Feb. 28, 2009 with a daily bag limit of 10. The hunting season for squirrels is one of the longest fall seasons and one of the most underutilized. All that is needed to hunt squirrels is a $28 combination license, a small price to pay for months of enjoyment and relaxation.

“I think it (squirrel hunting) is going to be fine this year,” said Roger Applegate, TWRA Small Game Coordinator. “We have no inkling of any significant reduction in numbers and they (squirrels) are abundant and a widely available resource.”

Two of the most productive ways to hunt squirrels are still-hunting (slowly walking through the woods watching for squirrels) and stand-hunting (sitting near food trees). Squirrel hunting with dogs has been gaining popularity in recent years. The best hunting with dogs generally occurs from November through February after trees shed their leaves.

There are five species of tree squirrels found in Tennessee. Two species, the southern flying squirrel and the northern flying squirrel, are not hunted. They are small and nocturnal and seldom seen.

The most abundant is the gray squirrel and is found statewide. The fox squirrel, the largest of Tennessee’s squirrels, is less common than the gray, but in some areas they out-number the grays. Due to its large size and distinctive coloration, the fox squirrel is a trophy among the squirrel hunting ranks. The red squirrel or “boomer” is the smallest of the hunted squirrels. It is found in the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee.

Squirrels are abundant in most areas where patches of woods are available. Excellent squirrel hunting can be found on many of TWRA’s wildlife management areas.

Squirrel hunting is one of the best ways to introduce a young hunter to the outdoors and squirrels are known for their excellent table fare. Most recipe books have a variety of recipes for squirrel, with fried squirrel and squirrel and dumplings being two traditional southern favorites.

For more information on Tennessee hunting seasons and license information, obtain a 2008 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide, available at TWRA Regional Offices and at hunting and fishing license agents .