How to hunt squirrels with a pellet rifle

Written by dave p. fisher
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How to hunt squirrels with a pellet rifle
Once the leaves have fallen squirrels are easier to spot in the trees (squirrel image by Tanya McConnell from

Squirrels are generally hunted with a.22 calibre rifle; however a patient squirrel hunter can bag squirrels with a pellet gun. A pellet gun has less than half of the muzzle velocity of a copper plated .22 bullet, so the distance for a killing shot with a pellet gun has to be within 30 yards. The pellet is projected either by compressed air or a CO2 gas cartridge in a .177 calibre or .22 calibre pellet gun. The CO2 model in a .177 calibre gives the greater velocity, and in addition the pellet rifle is preferred over a pellet pistol for more accurate shooting.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Pellets
  • Camouflaged clothing
  • Squirrel call
  • Binoculars

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  1. 1

    Choose "hunting" or "small game" pellets for squirrel hunting as these pellets are made specifically for small game hunting and not target practice.

  2. 2

    Hunt for squirrels in their feeding grounds which is usually a stand of nut trees, acorn oaks, or conifers as the squirrels eat the seeds out of the cones. Put on camouflaged clothing and sit against a tree or bush and wait for the squirrels to come close enough for a shot.

  3. 3

    Stalk squirrels by moving slowly and quietly among the trees watching for movement in the trees or for squirrels feeding on the ground. Use binoculars to study the trees for squirrels. When one is spotted stalk that specific squirrel by keeping the tree between yourself and the squirrel.

  4. 4

    Call squirrels using a commercial squirrel call to bring them into shooting range. Wear camouflaged clothing and sit or stand in concealment and work the call; when a squirrel responds to the call continue calling until the squirrel is within shooting range.

  5. 5

    Hunt with a dog if you can. Most breeds can be trained to chase and tree squirrels. The dog will bark under the tree letting the hunter know there is a squirrel in that tree. The squirrel will watch the dog, giving the hunter a chance to move up and get a close shot.

Tips and warnings

  • Check your state regulations on squirrel hunting. Some states have limits on what guns can be used for hunting. Also some states require the hunter to wear blaze orange for all hunting and not camouflage.
  • Practice with the pellet gun until you can shoot it accurately; because of the limited power of a pellet gun a head shot is best for a clean kill. This makes for a small target so the hunter needs to be a good shot.
  • After the leaves have fallen squirrels are easier to see in the trees. Sitting quietly and watching or using binoculars is the best way to see squirrels moving on the bare branches.
  • Most hardwood trees that produce seeds will attract squirrels, as well as nut and conifer trees.
  • Be aware of your background where the fired pellet will go. Do not shoot in residential areas or where people walk. A pellet fired from a pellet rifle will travel a good distance and can cause injury to anyone it strikes.
  • A .22 calibre pellet gun is not the same as a .22 calibre rimfire rifle; you cannot put a .22 calibre rifle cartridge in a .22 calibre pellet gun.

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