What Do You Hunt Squirrels With?

Hunting squirrels is a common outdoor sport enjoyed by many people throughout the world. No matter what goal you pursue, choosing the right equipment is always important for a successful hunt. We get a lot of questions like what do you hunt squirrels with? What is the best equipment for squirrel hunting? 

Typically, hunters utilize shotguns, air rifles, or traps, each offering distinct advantages and challenges. Firearms such as shotguns or rimfire rifles are favored for their power and range, ideal for longer distances and dense vegetation. Air rifles provide quieter operation and are often preferred for their precision. This makes them suitable for urban areas or where noise is a concern.

In addition to weapons, camouflage, calls and decoys are common tools used when hunting squirrels to improve hunting efficiency. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages when used. Below we will analyze in detail the best options for you when hunting squirrels. 

What Do You Hunt Squirrels With?

There are 4 best and most suitable equipment for squirrel hunting that you should know including: Rifles, shotguns, air rifles and traps. Here’s what you need to know when choosing each of these pieces of equipment for your hunting trip. 


Rifles are the most common and traditional method of hunting squirrels. Their accuracy and power make them the top choice of experienced hunters. Rifles come in various calibers, but the most commonly used ones for squirrel hunting are .22 and .17 caliber rifles. 

One of the biggest advantages of using a rifle for squirrel hunting is its accuracy. Rifles are designed to shoot long distances with precision, making them ideal for taking down squirrels from a distance. This is especially useful when hunting in heavily wooded areas where squirrels may be perched high up in trees. 

what do you hunt squirrels with

The power of a rifle is also a big plus when hunting squirrels. Squirrels have tough hides and thick fur, so they require a hard shot to bring them down. Rifles are capable of delivering a lethal shot that can take down a squirrel instantly, minimizing any suffering. 

Although the rifles are accurate and powerful, their size and weight are their major drawbacks. Rifles are bulky and heavy, making them difficult to carry around for extended periods of time. This can be a problem if you are hunting in rough terrain or need to move quickly. 

Another downside of using a rifle is the noise it makes. Squirrels have good hearing and are easily startled by loud noises. This makes it difficult to approach close enough for a proper shot, especially in quiet regions where squirrels are more likely to be located. 

Rifles are a great option for experienced hunters who are looking for accuracy and power when hunting squirrels. However, they may not be the best choice for beginners or those hunting in certain environments. 


Shotguns are another suitable option for hunting squirrels. They come in various gauges, but the most commonly used ones for squirrel hunting are 12 and 20 gauge shotguns. The shotgun is highly versatile. They can be used for both short and long range shooting, making them suitable for different hunting situations. They are also less bulky and easier to carry than rifles. This is a smart choice for hunters who need to cover a lot of ground. 

Another advantage is its reduced noise level compared to rifles. While shotguns are still loud, they are not as deafening as rifles. This helps prevent squirrels from being scared off before you can take your shot. 

what do you hunt squirrels with

The biggest disadvantage of using a shotgun for squirrel hunting is its lack of accuracy. Unlike rifles, shotguns shoot multiple pellets at once, making it difficult to hit a small target like a squirrel from a distance. Shotguns are only effective for close-range shots, which can limit your hunting opportunities. 

You need to consider if you hunt squirrels for food and not for sporting purposes. Because another disadvantage of using a shotgun is the potential for overkill. A shotgun blast can cause significant damage to their bodies, making it difficult to retrieve the meat without ruining it. Shotguns are a good alternative to rifles for squirrel hunting, but they are best suited for hunters who want to get close to their target.

Read this post: Comprehensive Guide To Squirrel Hunting With A .22

Air Rifles

Air rifles are gaining popularity among squirrel hunters, especially in urban areas where noise can be a concern. These rifles use compressed air to propel pellets, making them much quieter than traditional rifles. Squirrels have excellent hearing, and loud noises can easily scare them off. With an air rifle, you can take your shot without worrying about spooking your target. 

Another plus when using an air rifle is its affordable price. Air rifles are less expensive than regular rifles, making them ideal for beginners or those on a tight budget. They are also lightweight and easy to handle. 

However, the power of air rifles is not equal to that of traditional rifles. So, you need to be closer to your target to make an effective shot, which can be challenging when hunting in heavily wooded areas. 

Another inconvenience is that air rifles need to be reloaded frequently. Air rifles require manual reloading after each shot, which can be time-consuming and frustrating if you miss your target.


Trapping is another method of hunting squirrels that has been used for centuries. You will set traps and use food to lure the squirrels in. Traps can capture squirrels alive or dead, depending on the hunter’s preference. The main advantage of using traps for squirrel hunting is their effectiveness. When set up correctly, traps can catch multiple squirrels at once. They are also relatively easy to use and require minimal effort compared to other hunting methods.

what do you hunt squirrels with

In addition, when using traps, you can catch squirrels alive. This can be useful if you’re hunting for food and want to make sure the meat is fresh. It also allows you to release any non-target animals safely. 

When using traps, you need to constantly monitor them. Traps need to be checked regularly to ensure that any caught animals are not left suffering for an extended period. This can be time-consuming and may not be feasible for hunters who have other responsibilities.

Besides, using traps for squirrel hunting is the potential harm to non-target animals. While traps can be set up to only catch squirrels, there is always a risk of catching other animals such as birds or rabbits.

Trapping is an effective method for hunting squirrels, but it may not be suitable for everyone. It requires careful monitoring and can potentially harm non-target animals, so it should be used with caution.

Factors That Influence Squirrel Hunting Equipment Selection

The best equipment for your squirrel hunt depends on four main factors. These include terrain, weather, experience level and personal preference. 

  • Terrain: Depending on the benefits and drawbacks we mentioned earlier, you should select the proper equipment for each of your terrains. For example, a rifle would be the best choice due to its accuracy and power, if you are hunting in a heavily wooded area. 
  • Weather: In windy conditions, shotguns are more effective as they have a wider spread of pellets, increasing your chances of hitting your target.
  • Experience level: Rifles require more skill and experience to use effectively, so if you are a beginner, you may want to start with a shotgun or air rifle.
  • Personal preference: The best method for hunting squirrels will depend on your personal preference and what you feel most comfortable using. You can utilize a variety of strategies depending on the situation. For instance, you could use a rifle for long-distance shots and a shotgun for close-range ones.

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