It’s a Small Game Smorgasbord

Target Small Game After Deer Season

As deer seasons and other big game hunting opportunities come to an end across much of America, it’s time to continue the hunt. The seasons to hunt squirrels, rabbits and some upland species continue to offer opportunities for many hunters. In most cases you already have the licenses, the gear and the knowledge on where these species can be found—and hunted.

In the small game pursuit category, nothing quite compares to holding a .22-caliber rifle and slipping through an open hardwoods forest in search of squirrels. Often you’ll hear gnawing or barking before you see your prey. Chips of hickory nut hulls or acorn shells atop stumps let you know you’ve found the spot where squirrels like to hang out. You can also add to the excitement level by using a dog to tree them. And remember to take the kids or wife because everyone likes to hunt squirrels.

Rabbit hunting seasons also remain open in many regions of the U.S. Rabbits rank near the top of our food chain in taste. These lagomorphs are also fun to hunt, and the nearest brush pile or briar thicket is a top site to begin your quest. Look for a shiny eye, protruding ears or that namesake small white cottontail. Remember that a short pause by you often causes a hidden and motionless rabbit to think it’s been detected—and cause it to move. Moving rabbits are definitely easier to spot. There are many other species and regions that continue to offer open hunting seasons this time of year.

Arizona, for example, adds mourning doves, quail, sandhill cranes, grouse, chukars and pheasants to its huntable small game species list. Great hunting tips can be found on the Arizona Game and Fish Department website. Quail, chukar and rabbit hunting seasons are open in some areas until February 5, 2012.

In South Carolina, hunting seasons for crows, grouse, squirrels, rabbits, fox and quail remain open until March 1, 2012. Dove hunting seasons are open December 21 through January 15, 2012. Remember that snows in the North push doves down to the South. Concentrate your hunting efforts around corn and cotton fields that were harvested recently, or take a second look at many of the public hunting grounds across the state.

Just remember that many hunting seasons are still open, and while some hunters retire to the home to sit by the fireplace, other hunters still have great hunts and less competition afield. It’s time to keep hunting.

Fast Facts:
    •    By some estimates doves can fly at speeds around 50 mph.
    •    Rabbits have been noted to run at speeds up to 45 mph for short distances.

 Courtesy of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance