Is Great Again
By Rory Aikens
Arizona Game and Fish
|Another mild winter last year, good precipitation, a decent mushroom crop and excellent mast crop in many areas has resulted in the third consecutive good tree squirrel season outlook in Arizona, advises Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists.
"Arizona has more different species of tree squirrels than any other state. Last year's mild winter should make for good squirrel hunting this fall," said Randy Babb, Mesa regional information and education program manager.
The season opens Octpber 12 for any tree squirrel except the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel. Babb advises using a .22-caliber rifle for tree squirrels instead of a shotgun. "A .22 is a lot more fun and you don't have to worry about shot at dinner time."
Also carry a pair of binoculars to locate squirrels in the treetops, or even on the ground at times.
Start your hunt early in the morning when squirrels are most active. "Quietly walk along logging roads and search for squirrels on the ground and in the trees. Once a squirrel is spotted, it may be shot on the ground or rushed so it runs up the nearest tree," Babb said.
Chasing squirrels up trees at 7,000- or 8,000-foot elevations is more work than it sounds. "Add an uphill incline and you have the makings for a cardiac arrest. A well-trained dog makes the job easier," advises the "maturing" Babb.
Abert squirrels spend a lot of time on the ground foraging for mushrooms in the fall. A good technique for finding Aberts is locating an area with mushrooms, then sitting still and using your binoculars to locate squirrels on the ground.
For Aberts, try in the Ponderosa Pine belt from Prescott in the west all across the Mogollon Rim to Alpine in the east. The Bradshaw Mountains are another good bet.
Gray squirrels prefer riparian corridors of sycamore, walnut and ash. "The canyons under the Mogollon Rim are a good place to try for grays and you'll probably find some Aberts there too. Grays are a bit harder to come by and can make for a challenging hunt," Babb states.
Red squirrels are found in moister spruce-fir habitat and are most easily located by listening for their "wurring" call. Red squirrels are territorial and will often chatter at passersby. Better densities of red squirrels can typically be found in drainage or riparian areas. The Hannigan's Meadow, Mt. Baldy, and San Francisco Peaks areas all offer fairly extensive spruce-fir habitats. You can also find pockets of spruce fir along the canyons on the edge of the Mogollon Rim.
Those heading to the high country for squirrels might want to take a fishing pole along for trout. Or vice versa.
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