Spring Squirrel Season opens Sunday

Published 5:05 pm Friday, May 13, 2022

NATCHEZ — It is the eighth straight year that Mississippi has had a spring squirrel season since 2014 when they first reinstated the season. May 15 is opening day and the season lasts 17 days until June 1, 2022. 

Spring season is an opportunity for hunters to hit the woods in search of ol’ bushy tails before fall squirrel season opens on Oct. 1. It is also an opportunity for hunters and dogs to get more experience in the woods. 

The spring season is similar to the early fall season. Squirrels are easier to sneak up on because of the heavy mast in the trees but difficult to see. Rick Hamrick, an MDWFP small game biologist, said hunters new to the spring season should know a few things. 

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“The folks not familiar with the season need to be aware of snakes and you may want some insect repellent,” he said. “It’s also important to remember hunters’ safety. Be aware of your target and what is behind your target.”

Food sources are key to hunting squirrels in the spring. Acorns and other tree nuts have probably been consumed during the winter months and any leftover stores have more than likely sprouted, he said.

Squirrels are opportunistic and will get into gardens for vegetables and devour fruits growing on trees. They are also capable of consuming insects and grubs which have proteins and they will eat bark and tree buds. Hamrick said the spring squirrel season is often referred to as a Mulberry season because squirrels love to eat mulberries. 

While the nut crop isn’t as essential to spring feeding habits, it does play a part in the number of squirrels running around the property. Hunters who experienced a good acorn crop this year should see plenty of young squirrels running around, he said. Those who did not have many acorns this winter may see fewer squirrels because they had to travel for food more in the winter, exposing themselves to predation and not being as productive in their reproductive cycle, he said.

Sunday is the opening day in Mississippi and Natchez is forecast to have a high of 91. Heat does play a part in a squirrel’s feeding and movement habits. Additionally, Hunters might need to take precautions with squirrel meat if they are hunting all day.

“They will reduce their activity when it is really hot to conserve energy to stay as cool as they can,” Hamrick said. “Meat spoilage can be a concern depending on how long you are out. It would be a good idea to get them field-dressed to remove the entrails, especially if you are transporting them far. You might want to get them in a cooler if it is up in the 80s. As soon as something dies the bacteria can start. I think you have a little bit of time before worrying about it getting bad.”

He added the meat’s quality can suffer if left out in the heat for too long. 

The daily bag limit for the spring season is four squirrels. The season is not open at the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge. It is open at Sandy Creek Wildlife Management Area, the Homochitto National Forest and private lands. 

Spring squirrel season is one of the last chances to hunt until September Canada Geese, teal and dove season. Frogging is open until September 30, 2022. Raccoon season opens July 1 and nuisance animals such as coyotes and feral hogs can be hunted year-round.