Last updated on August 10th, 2023
The Georgia squirrel season opens August 15 and officially kicks off the state’s fall hunting seasons. For many, it’s the first opportunity to get back in the woods since spring turkey season.
So if you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house and into the woods, consider taking time out this fall to hone your woodsmanship skills, practice shooting, and put some excellent game meat on your table.
Squirrel Season Dates
- August 15, 2023 – February 29, 2024
Georgia’s squirrel season always opens August 15, regardless what day of the week that falls on, and closes the last day of February. For the 2023-2024 Georgia squirrel season, that has it opening on a Tuesday and closing on a Thursday.
Georgia Squirrel Season Bag Limit
The bag limit for squirrels in Georgia is 12 per day, either gray or fox squirrel or any combination of the two.
If you’re a public land hunter, keep in mind that starting last season, the fox squirrel bag limit is one per person per day on all WMAs, VPAs, and department-managed lands.
Georgia’s Two Squirrel Species
Gray and fox squirrels can both be found in Georgia. The most common species is the gray squirrel, which is typically associated with hardwood forests or a mix of pines and hardwoods. Gray squirrels are predominantly gray with white underparts, and appear more slender-bodied than fox squirrels, weighing anywhere from 12 ounces to 1.5 pounds.
Fox squirrels have several color phases, varying from silver-gray with a predominantly black head, to solid black, to a light buff or brown color tinged with reddish-yellow. Generally larger than grays, fox squirrels range in weight from one pound to nearly three, and are more closely associated with mature pine and mixed pine/hardwood habitats, and especially in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions.
Georgia Squirrel Hunting License Requirements
All that is required to squirrel hunt on both private or public lands is an annual hunting license or a one-day hunting license, for those required to have a hunting license. To learn more about who needs a hunting license, and who doesn’t, check out the Georgia DNR’s What Licenses Do I Need? page
Legal Squirrel Hunting Weapons
- Rifles and Handguns: Any .22-cal. or smaller rimfire, air rifle, or any muzzleloading firearm. There is no restriction on magazine capacity for rifles.
- Shotguns: Any having shotshell size 3.5 inches or smaller in length with No. 2 or smaller shot.
- Archery: Crossbows, longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows are allowed for hunting squirrels. Draw weight, let-off, arrow length, and sights are not restricted.
- Primitive Weapons: Air bows, air rifles and muzzleloaders or muzzleloading shotguns are legal for squirrels.
Where to Hunt Squirrels in Georgia
The great thing about squirrels are they can be found in abundant numbers across the entire state. Just about anywhere you find trees, you’ll find squirrels. Even if you don’t have access to private land, there are plenty of places to bag a bushytail or two on Georgia’s public lands.
The Peach State’s wildlife management areas (WMAs) offer access to nearly one million acres of hunting opportunities, and squirrel hunting is allowed on WMAs at specified times during the statewide squirrel season. Hunters are advised to check the current hunting regulations for specific WMA dates and info.
Additionally, there are hundreds of thousands of acres of National Forest and National Wildlife Refuges in the state that also offer small game hunting opportunities. In short, there is no excuse for not having a place to squirrel hunt in Georgia!
7 Tips for Squirrel Hunting Success
- Understanding Squirrel Behavior: Spend time observing squirrels to learn their patterns. Squirrels are most active in the morning and late afternoon. They can often be heard rustling in leaves, barking, or cutting nuts.
- Silent Stalking: Move slowly and quietly through the woods. Squirrels have excellent hearing and can detect even the slightest sound. Practice walking quietly and take frequent pauses to listen and observe your surroundings.
- Hunting After Rain: Consider hunting after a rain shower. Rain will dampen the leaves and underbrush, allowing you to move more quietly through the woods. Plus, squirrels will typically come out to feed after rain, making them easier to find.
- Hunting Along the Edges: Squirrels tend to prefer areas where different types of vegetation meet – for instance, the edge of a field and a hardwood forest. Hunt along these edges for better success.
- Mastering the Call: Using a squirrel call can help attract squirrels. There are several types of calls, including barking calls, distress calls, and cutting calls, that imitate the sounds squirrels make.
- Practicing Patience: Hunting squirrels requires patience. If you suspect there are squirrels in an area, sit quietly and wait. It might take 20-30 minutes for the squirrels to resume their normal activity after they’ve been disturbed.
- Precision Shooting: Practice your shooting skills to ensure a clean, ethical kill. Headshots are generally preferred when hunting squirrels to preserve the meat. Remember, it’s better to pass up a shot if you’re unsure rather than risk injuring a squirrel without killing it.
Wolves in Squirrels
A lot of hunters won’t go out early in the Georgia squirrel season due to the presence of wolves, or warbles, on the squirrels. Wolves are the larvae of bot flies, which lay their eggs on vegetation in the woods. When a squirrel comes in contact with the larvae, the larvae grab onto the squirrel and burrow under the skin.
Squirrels with wolves, or warbles, will have large lumps on the skin where the bot fly larvae are burrowed underneath. It’s not pretty, but wolves have no negative impact on the meat of the squirrel.
So don’t let the thought of wolves keep you from hitting the woods this August or September in pursuit of a limit of bushytails. Not only will it give you an opportunity to hone your shooting skills before deer season, but it can provide excellent table fare as well.
Can I shoot squirrels in my yard in Georgia?
There are no DNR regulations that prohibit shooting squirrels in your yard in Georgia. There are, however, city and county ordinances that may prohibit discharging a firearm where you live. You also have to consider the safety of any neighbors you may have.
So, if your house is a safe distance from any neighbors, and there is no city or county ordinance that prohibits the discharge of firearms where you live, then there’s nothing wrong with putting a few bushytails in the freezer.
Can you bait squirrels in Georgia?
You cannot legally hunt squirrels over bait in Georgia. Baiting is only legal for deer and hogs. Therefore, hunters must rely on natural food sources, keen observation, and hunting skills to successfully hunt squirrels in the Peach State.
When is the best time to hunt squirrels?
The best time to hunt squirrels is typically in the early morning or late afternoon, as these are the times when squirrels are most active, foraging for food.
Additionally, hunting after a light rain can also be productive, as squirrels come out to feed and damp conditions allow for quieter movement through the woods.
Squirrel season in Georgia offers a rewarding outdoor experience for nearly half the year. With a bag limit of 12 per day, hunters have the opportunity to target gray and fox squirrels across the state’s diverse habitats. Remember, ethical hunting practices and a respect for wildlife contribute to sustainable hunting and a balanced ecosystem. Happy hunting!