The current squirrel season in Pennsylvania runs through December 24th and the second runs December 26th through February 23rd. Hunters enjoy a daily limit of six combined species (gray, fox, red, or pine).
Squirrel populations have been enjoying the benefits of declining hunting pressure and the maturation of habitat in the state for some time. These factors have spurred fox squirrel range expansion and recovery. The calculated squirrel harvest has been relatively stable over the past seven years, ranging from 530,125 to 784,741. Last year, an estimated 690,141 squirrels were harvested by hunters.
“Gray squirrels are our most abundant game species and are found throughout Pennsylvania,” said Tom Hardisky, Game Commission biologist. “Look for mast-producing trees such as walnut, butternut, oak and hickory when searching for the best hunting areas. In agricultural areas, woodlots in the vicinity of standing cornfields often support large numbers of squirrels. They can be found throughout deep woods areas.”
When hunting squirrels, Hardisky said hunters should look for large-trunked trees near a food source. Larger trees offer better protection from predators and are favorite den sites. Gray squirrels are most active during the early morning and evening, while fox squirrels often travel during mid-day.
Squirrel hunting is an excellent foray into the sport for young hunters. Many of us learned to hunt small game before graduating to larger species. Armed with a 410, many youths will learn the basics of gun and hunter safety, not to mention patience (although perhaps it's actually some parents that learn more about patience on early hunts), basic hunting skills, and begin to develop an appreciation for the sport.
Hunters also are reminded that squirrels are listed as a game animal that can be pursued by youngsters participating in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, which permits those under the age of 12 to hunt under the guidance of a mentor.
In Pennsylvania, Squirrel hunters are required to wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing, visible 360 degrees, at all times. Please check with the Pennsylvania Game Commission for full season details and regulations.