Are you preparing for a squirrel-hunting trip? If so then you should make sure you're well-prepared for the event. That includes having know-how about small game hunting. This option keeps your skills sharp during the off-season and boosts your survival skills for times when big game isn't available.
You also should be prepared for situations like squirrel hunting in the rain. For example, you'll need the best gear like rifles to get the best results. It's also important to learn the best techniques for squirrel-hunting in the rain. That includes when, where, and how you should hunt when there's precipitation.
One of the main perks of squirrel hunting is it provides a food supply at the end of the day. People have compared squirrel meat to chicken, pork, and lamb. What's most important is taking the right steps can help ensure you'll have a tasty dinner after your hunting session.
We're here to provide some must-know information to give you the best chance of successful squirrel hunting in the rain. Hunting small game can be difficult, but we'll give you the best odds of bagging the most rodents.
Where Do Squirrels Go When It Rains?
This is a big question because it brings up the issue about whether or not you should even consider squirrel hunting when it's raining. Do you have a better chance of bagging game during light, heavy, or no rain?
A big issue is the amount of rain that falls on any given day. If it's raining cats and dogs in the morning, then you should wait it out until the rain lets up. This doesn't mean you can't land 1-2 squirrels, but if you want the better results, it's advisable to wait until the weather clears up some.
Amount of Rain
It's important to consider the big picture. For example, let's say there's light rainfall. Maybe heavy rains are only forecasted for the morning. There could be moderate rain but no lighting or heavy winds. In all of these cases, you should reconsider cancelling your squirrel hunting trip.
There's nothing 100% in life, and that includes weather reports. Make sure to check the forecast for the day of your scheduled squirrel-hunting trip. What's the chance of rain? Is the weatherperson forecasting light, moderate, or heavy rain? What's the current weather?
Wind and Rain
These are all issues to take up. The X-factor to consider is rain impacts your sense of hearing. It's important to hear the activity of the small rodents.
When heavy rains and winds affect your ability to hear squirrels, it can put you at a big disadvantage. In fact, it can be big enough to prevent you from achieving success.
Rain can mute sounds around you including squirrels. Meanwhile, winds can reduce visibility and especially of squirrels scurrying around in the trees.
Make sure to clean/lubricate your firearm after you get home whether you're using a rifle or shotgun. This will help to prevent rust and bad functionality of your firearm during your next squirrel-hunting trip.
Benefits of Hunting Squirrels in Rain
This might be surprising, but again it depends on how much rainfall there is. If there's a light or moderate rain without heavy winds/lighting, then this type of hunting can actually provide various benefits. Here are some of the main ones:
This is an interesting benefit because it's not directly related to your hunting per se. Hunters tend to stay home when the weather is inclement. That means less competition and a better chance of bagging lots of squirrels.
This situation actually causes several benefits. There's less overlap of hunting grounds, less gunfire, and fewer scared squirrels. So, in this case, it's up to you to take advantage of the situation and brave the elements when many others don't.
During or after a light rainfall raindrops will fall when squirrels move on a particular branch. That happens when it shakes, and all the raindrops that gathered on it fall.
Keep in mind this advantage only exists during a light rain. During moderate to heavy rains the drops fall quickly and bounce off the branches.
If there's a light rain/drizzle minus high winds you'll likely find squirrels in the wild. They're used to being exposed to the elements, so a little rain doesn't make them uneasy. In fact, it's common for squirrels to leave their dens during rain.
The little animals seem to sense rainfall 1-2 hours before it starts and scurry around. So if there's light/moderate rain in the forecast, this could actually provide a chance to make your hunting excursion more successful.
This is a benefit of squirrel hunting in the rain that's less obvious than others. When the ground is soft, your walking will be quieter. This is especially true if fallen leaves are blanketing the soil. In fact, you might be surprised how close you can get to the rodents after a heavy rain.
How to Pick Gear for Squirrel Hunting in the Rain
When hunting squirrels in the rain, it's as important to have the right gear as when hunting in sunny or snowy weather. Being prepared is the first step to take if you want to achieve success. Here are some must-have items to secure:
The most important gear you'll need when preparing for squirrel hunting in the rain is the gun. You can use the same gun for other small game like rabbits and grouse. Keep in mind the best guns for small game-hunting typically aren't the best ones for big game.
The .22 air rifle is the most popular gun for squirrel hunting. Some hunters have switched to the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR) due to the tack-driving accuracy.
Some hunters use shotguns and especially early in the season. It's also a good option for young hunters since it's a little easier to hit squirrels.
Here are some of the best options:
a/ Rimfire Rifle
This type of gun can help make your gun collection complete. A rimfire rifle is a good option for hunting various types of small game like squirrels. You can find several models including ones like the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR).
Rimfire rifles provide several benefits. They're very accurate, somewhat inexpensive, and lightweight. They also provide various benefits over shotguns. That includes being quieter, easier to shoot, longer range, etc. This actually makes a rimfire rifle a good choice for smaller hunters.
Rimfire rifles are also good for shooting small/stationary animals in a tree like squirrels. Meanwhile, shooting a moving target is tougher, and a shotgun is likely a better option. A rimfire rifle can help you bag more small game and save a small fortune on ammunition.
You can find a wide variety of rimfire rifles for hunting small game. They include units from Crickett, Ruger, and Marlin. Make sure to find the best unit for your wants and needs.
b/ Rimfire Pistol
A rimfire pistol is a good option for small game hunting for various reasons. It's small/lightweight, and you can also store it in a holster. You also might want to consider coupling the pistol with a shotgun or high-powered rifle.
This gives you more versatility to use either the rimfire pistol in certain situations. In different situations a shotgun/rifle would be a better option like when hunting a running rabbit.
You can find several good options when picking a rimfire pistol. They include ones from Smith & Wesson and Ruger.
Many hunters would pick a rimfire pistol or rifle first for hunting small game. These guns have benefits, but you shouldn't forget about the benefits of hunting with a shotgun.
It's interesting that the most popular option is likely the .12 gauge shotgun. However, arguably better choices are shotguns like the .16 and .20 gauge units.
When should you pick shotguns for small game hunting? They're a good option when shooting at small/moving targets within close range.
In these situations it might be almost impossible let alone unsafe to fire a rimfire pistol/rifle. Another issue is a shotgun has much more stopping power than a shotgun.
You can find many high-quality shotguns on the market for these situations. They include units from CVA, Mossberg, and Remington. The most popular shotgun for small game is probably the Remington Model 870.
A good scope is helpful to hunt squirrels when you're in dense cover, and the naked eye can't see the targets. Another helpful step is to thread a bullet into a small hole when hunting in thick foliage.
A rifle scope is especially useful for small game hunting in the rain. Precision shooting is critical due to the squirrel's small size. It’s important to have a clear sight of squirrels when you’re in thick cover.
Make sure to pick a scope with a wide-field, brightness, and good quality. This will help to produce the best results.
Here are some of the main features to look for:
This is one of the most important factors when picking a scope for small game hunting. This starts with the quality of the scope itself. However, you'll also need to make some tweaks to the settings in order to optimize this factor.
In fact, it all starts with mounting the scope properly. This includes cleaning the mounting holes, cleaning the base, and removing factory grease from the components.
It's also important to square up the scope's crosshairs with the rifle's bore. Any cant in the crosshairs can reduce accuracy. You can also find scope-mounting tools for this process.
Then after mounting the scope, you'll need to boresight it. You can find various bore sighting tools to achieve this goal.
This figure is reported for different rifle scopes and binoculars. When hunting squirrels in rainy weather a scope's brightness is definitely going to be critical to get the best results. What are these terms all about?
Relative brightness estimates how bright the scope's image should be when viewed through scopes. The higher this figure is better when picking a scope that will be optimized for rainy weather.
This factor estimates how much detail you can see in low light. It's another figure you should consider when shopping for hunting scopes. It's especially helpful when hunting squirrels at dusk and dawn, and particularly when it's raining.
It's worth noting that relative brightness and twilight factors are both theoretical. So it's important to use caution when using these values to compare various brands/styles of scopes. They're useful in comparing magnifications/objective lenses of a brand/model of hunting scope.
d/ Lens Diameter
Here's another factor to weigh when picking a new hunting scope. In fact, you should consider various issues. Pick the right lens size for the optimum mounting position. The bigger the objective diameter is, the bigger the objective bell will be. A big size can interfere with the mountain position.
A lens with a big objective diameter lens can also add greatly to the rifle scope's weight. This, in turn, can make the unit seem heavy/awkward.
Another factor to weigh is the glass quality. In fact, one reason squirrel hunters pick a bigger objective lens is it results in a brighter image. Not only is the size of the lens but also the glass quality.
An image's clarity can be affected by finishing processes and impurities. These are issues that can certainly have a negative effect on squirrel hunting during a rainy day. So it's arguably worth spending extra money for a scope with higher-quality glass.
If there's a chance it could rain during your squirrel-hunting trip you should certainly consider avoiding a budget scope.
Why should you pick a waterproof scope instead? Small game hunting can be done in different weather conditions including sunny, windy, rainy, and snowy. So it's best to have the best equipment to prepare for those situations.
If you're serious about squirrel hunting, then a waterproof scope should certainly be a priority. It's an investment in your hunting trips so arguably worthwhile if it means you'll be more likely to bag more small game or varmints.
The old saying "You get what you pay for" certainly applies. The good news is you can find decent waterproof rifle scopes in the under-$200 price range. If you want high-end units from Nikon, Leopold, or Bushnell, then you should be ready to shell out more money.
When picking camouflage gear then make sure to consider the season. It goes without saying that you should wear camouflage clothing when squirrel hunting in the rain. A long-sleeved shirt is also advisable.
Green camouflage gear is a good option for early-season squirrel hunting. Meanwhile, brown or grey camo is a better option in the late season since brown leaves are on the ground.
Another must-have is weatherproof hunting clothing. That includes parkas, pants, and coveralls. Make sure to pick the right clothing in terms of size and warmth in order to get the best functionality.
Such weatherproof apparel isn't cheap. Even a quality jacket is often in the under-$100 range. That said, the benefit of being dry during your hunting excursion is certainly worthwhile.
Tips for Squirrel Hunting in Rain
A) Squirrels are active before rainfall
Like birds before snowfall squirrels seem to have a sixth sense that rain is approaching. This makes them more active 1-2 hours before rainfall starts. This provides more opportunities to add more to your game bag.
So if there's rain in the forecast, you shouldn't automatically cancel your session. In fact, you might have more luck because of the rain rather than despite it.
Squirrels stay closer to nest/den in inclement weather
This includes both rain and snow. In fact, squirrels generally are still active during rainfall and snowfall. The caveat is they'll be less active and stay closer to home. The main exception is when there's more severe weather like thunderstorms and blizzards.
B) Consider the type of rainfall
Experienced squirrel hunters will often go ahead with a hunting session even if there's light to moderate rain. Another factor is whether the rain is continuous or off/on. In the latter case, it's more practical to go ahead with your hunting excursion since you'll have more opportunities for getting in good shots.
If there's a downpour, then you should probably think twice. You'd end up getting drenched, and visibility is also ultra-low. It's also advisable to postpone your trip if the weather also includes heavy winds or lightning.
C) Use squirrel calls to draw them out
This process can work but must be done effectively. The key is to use the right series of squirrel calls. More specifically you should know right squirrel vocabulary (yes, it's a thing), which consists of chatters/barks.
A chatter is a series of short/quick notes, while barks are louder/sharper noises. A common practice is 1-2 barks by a series of chatters.
If your squirrel calls aren't up to par an alternative is to strike two coins together. This mimics the "barking" sound and can make squirrels curious about the sound.
Hunt squirrels on the ground during windy days
If the weather includes heavy rains and heavy rains it will exponentially decrease your chance of bagging squirrels. If there's light/moderate rain and winds, it's a different story.
In that case, you should watch for squirrels on the ground. Some will stay in the trees, but the ground obviously provides them with more stability.
D) Use ground stalking
This is an old-school yet effective way to land more squirrels during rainy weather. If you sit in a cleared area at the base of a tree, you might not hear anything for a few hours and especially if it's raining.
A better option is to move around the areas until you see/hear a squirrel. For example, during certain times of the year squirrels might be close to a den tree. Look for signs like old hardwood trees with holes in them that function as den cavities.
What are some squirrel hunting tips?
Keep in mind squirrels are most active during dawn and dusk. Squirrels notice sounds like moving leaves and snapping twigs. The rodents look for nuts on the ground after leaves have fallen. Also, late-season squirrels are very lazy vs. early-season squirrels.
Do squirrels like rain?
They're less likely to come out during rainy/snowy days. During windy days they usually stay close to the ground. Squirrels can also be active, but it depends on how severe the weather is. They're more likely to come out after rain/snow.
What is the best time to squirrel hunt?
Squirrels are most active during sunrise and sunset. Grey squirrels are most active during dusk. Meanwhile, fox squirrels wake up a little later. Hunters will be the most productive hunting squirrels within the first two hours after dusk.
Was this information helpful for you? Like other types of small game hunting, squirrel hunting in the rain can be challenging yet rewarding. This is especially true when hunting the rodents in light or moderate rain. In fact, while conventional wisdom says you should stay home and wait out the rain, such weather conditions can actually provide some benefits.
The key is to know which steps to take. It starts with knowing the basics of squirrel behavior before, during, and after rainy weather. You should also secure the right gun, scope, and apparel. Then there are the basic tactics to use in rainy weather to help bag the most squirrels.
Our goal is to make your next squirrel-hunting trip as successful as possible. If you liked this article, please share it with your friends. And, don't forget to read more about hunting tips for beginners.