Spring squirrel season a great reason to stay in the woods

Spring hunting for squirrels gives additional time to take youth into the woods for this popular game animal. (Photo by Chris Berzas)
Spring hunting for squirrels gives additional time to take youth into the woods for this popular game animal. (Photo by Chris Berzas)

There’s no reason to leave the woods after turkey season ends. Just stay and have fun chasing bushytails in May.

The camouflaged hunter slowly made his way along the ridge bordering a small creek coursing through a hardwood bottom.

Reaching the northern end of the ridge, the hunter stopped in his tracks to see two gobblers slowly making their way into the bottom.

A slight movement to the east of the walking gobblers caught the hunter’s attention. Slowly lifting the shotgun to his shoulder, he aimed, then fired.

Startled, the gobblers took wing, climbing to the top of the forest canopy.

The hunter casually walked over, picked up and examined the rust-colored fox squirrel, reached behind his back and put it in his game bag next to a squirrel killed earlier in the day.

That’s just how hunting for spring squirrels in Louisiana can sometimes be.

Season dates

Louisiana’s 23rd spring squirrel hunting season begins May 2 and runs through May 24 on private lands statewide. The daily bag limit is three squirrels, with a possession limit of nine.

On select state Wildlife Management Areas, the spring squirrel season is shorter:  May 2-10.

Louisiana has no spring squirrel season on federal lands, including Kisatchie National Forest, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers properties and national wildlife refuges.

“Compared to the fall, only a small percentage of Louisiana squirrel hunters take advantage of this spring season,” said Cody Cedotal, a biologist who is small-game study leader with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Cedotal listed the most-popular WMAs where previous harvests should point to success: Big Lake WMA in Franklin, Madison and Tensas parishes; Dewey Wills WMA in Catahoula and LaSalle parishes; Richard K. Yancey WMA in Concordia Parish; Thistlethwaite WMA (still-hunting only) in St. Landry Parish; Sherburne WMA in Iberville, Pointe Coupee and St. Martin parishes; and Pearl River WMA in St. Tammany Parish.

Slow down

Breaux Bridge’s Sammy Guillory has hunted all but one of Louisiana’s spring squirrel seasons since their inception in 1997.

“That exception was last spring, 2019, due to all the flooding on both the public and private lands I hunt,” said Guillory, 58, whose work, associated with relief for flood victims, was affected.

He advises hunters that to be successful in the spring, they must slow down.

“I don’t find they move all that much when compared to the fall,” Guillory said. “You’ll often find them eating buds on trees and not moving from that food source.”

According to Cedotal, Louisiana’s spring squirrels will feed on soft mast such as buds and berries. 

Breaux Bridge’s Sammy Guillory advises still hunters to move more slowly than they would during the fall in order to catch glimpses of spring squirrels eating buds in the trees while remaining still. (Photo by Chris Berzas)
Breaux Bridge’s Sammy Guillory advises still hunters to move more slowly than they would during the fall in order to catch glimpses of spring squirrels eating buds in the trees while remaining still. (Photo by Chris Berzas)

The buds of sweet gum trees are a preferred source of forage and often, you’ll see squirrels (stretch) their bodies while reaching out for this popular food source. They will also feed on the seeds of dogwoods and certain maples.

“They will also be on the ground looking for their caches of acorns and other mast left over from the late fall,” he said.“You have to be looking at trees for the slightest of movement compared to the heightened activity they show in the fall.

“Many times, you’ll see them just sitting on a leafless tree, their tails hanging down, as they chew on the buds. And you’ll have to work a bit harder to get even a three-squirrel limit in the spring,” he said.

Guillory’s favorite public lands for spring squirrels are Richard K. Yancey WMA and Dewey Wills WMA.

Calling them in

Besides being a noted waterfowler from a family of legendary duck callers and call manufacturers, Kelly Haydel of Haydel’s Game Calls enjoys calling squirrels on fall or spring hunts.

“The effects of using squirrel distress calls during the spring are better in that you have young adolescent squirrels out there being taken by raptors,” he said.

“What you are trying to imitate or replicate are the sounds made when a (hawk or owl) grabs a young squirrel and brings it to the ground — causing a struggle while the hawk is beating its wings. That young squirrel will be screaming.”

Haydel uses both the SW-92 Mr. Squirrel Whistle and the DS-85 Squirrel Call, a bellows-style call. They are available at www.haydels.com. 

When the woods settle after Haydel sits on the ground and remains quiet for a bit, he’ll have by his side a leafy limb about 2 feet long.

“I will start a calling sequence by squealing on the Mr. Squirrel Whistle some five times, and at the same time slapping that limb on the ground,” he said. 

“I will perform that five-note sequence three times, with 10 seconds spaced between the sequences.”

According to Haydel, if there are adult squirrels in the area, they should then reveal themselves and do a bit of chattering and barking in response to the commotion.

“If I haven’t elicited a response, then I start barking with the DS-85 Squirrel Call,” he said. “The reason I am pushing those barks out now is to imitate the sounds of the young squirrel’s mother who would be quite angry at the raptor.

“This should get some squirrels coming in and leaving the hunter prepared for a shot at taking one.”

Louisiana WMAs open for spring squirrel hunting

  • Attakapas WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Bayou Macon WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Bayou Pierre WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Big Colewa Bayou WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Big Lake WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Bodcau WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Bouef WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Buckhorn WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Clear Creek WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Dewey W. Wills WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Elm Hall WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Grassy Lake WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Hutchinson Creek WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • J. C. Sonny Gilbert WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Joyce WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Lake Boeuf WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Lake Ramsay Savannah WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Little River WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Loggy Bayou WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Manchac WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Marsh Bayou WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Maurepas Swamp WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Pearl River WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Pointe-Aux-Chenes WMA (parts open): May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Pomme de Terre WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Richard K. Yancey WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Russell Sage WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Sabine WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Sabine Island WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Sandy Hill WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Sherburne WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Spring Bayou WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Tangipahoa Parish School Board WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Thistlethwaite WMA: May 2-10; Still hunting only;
  • Tunica Hills WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • Walnut Hill WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs;
  • West Bay WMA: May 2-10 with/without dogs

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Chris Berzas
About Chris Berzas 369 Articles
Chris Berzas has fished and hunted in the Bayou State ever since he could hold a rod and shoot a shotgun. Berzas has been a freelancer featured in newspapers, magazines, television and DVDs since 1989.

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