Photo of a young squirrel hunter and his mentor on a Florida squirrel hunt.

Like many southern hunters my age, I cut my teeth on squirrel hunting long before I ever climbed into my first deer stand. Sadly, many young hunters today don’t get to experience the fun and excitement of chasing bushytails or learn the valuable woodsmanship skills that come with the pursuit.

We’re fortunate here in the South to have long squirrel seasons, lots of public hunting land, and plenty of game to help foster that squirrel hunting experience.

If you’re a southern hunter with an interest in squirrel hunting, here’s what you need to know about your respective state, along with some tips to help you fill your game vest with a limit of squirrels this season and reignite that small game passion.

Squirrel Species in the South

There are a few different species of squirrels in the South to challenge hunters and provide excellent table fare. Let’s start with a quick look at each species, where they’re found, and what sets them apart from the others.

Eastern Gray Squirrels

The most abundant squirrel species across the south is the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). The name derives from their mostly gray appearance, althought their fur is actually a mix of brown, black, and white hairs. The fur on their belly is usually white or light gray, and their tails are flat, bushy, and gray with silver-tipped hairs.

Eastern gray squirrels average 16-20 inches in length and can weigh up to 1.5 pounds.

Gray squirrels thrive in a variety of habitat types but prefer mixed hardwood forests as well as urban and suburban areas. You’ll often find them in or around oak, beech, elm, maple, and other mast-producing trees.

Fox Squirrels

Fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) are also found across the southeast, and are larger and heavier than the more common gray squirrel. Fox squirrels can reach up to 30 inches in total length and weigh up to three pounds. They can vary considerably in color, from brownish-gray on top with a rusty orange belly to jet black with a white nose.

While fox squirrels may sometimes be found in close proximity to gray squirrels, their habitat preferences are different. Fox squirrels prefer a more open forest with minimal understory. They prefer mature longleaf pine, stands of open pine-oak forest, as well as small woodlots interspersed with agricultural land.

American Red Squirrels

On the opposite end of the size spectrum from fox squirrels is the small American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). American Red Squirrels are rusty red in color with a white belly. They are considerably smaller than gray squirrels, at 10 to 15 inches in total length, just slightly larger than a chipmunk.

Red squirrels are primarily a northern and western squirrel species, but they can be found in the Appalachian mountains in the southeast. There are huntable numbers in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and extreme northeast Georgia.

Southern Squirrel Hunting by State


Alabama offers hunters nearly 6 months of squirrel hunting opportunities across the state, starting in mid-September and extending into early March. Hunters there can pursue both gray and fox squirrels, and the regulations are the same for both.

Alabama Squirrel Season Dates

September 10, 2022 – March 5, 2023

Bag Limit

8 a day; 8 in possession

Legal Weapons

Squirrels may be hunted in Alabama with rimfire and air rifles; muzzleloaders of any caliber; long bows, compound bows and crossbows; 10 gauge and smaller shotguns using 4 shot or smaller loads; handguns and pistols, blowguns using darts propelled by the hunter’s breath only; sling shots; and raptors by properly permitted falconers.

Special Regulations

No fox squirrels may be taken on Bankhead National Forest.


Arkansas has the longest of all squirrel seasons in the South, lasting over nine months and spanning portions of all four seasons! Arkansas has both gray and fox squirrels and has a generous 12-squirrel limit.

Arkansas Squirrel Season Dates

May 15, 2022 – February 29, 2023

Bag Limit

Daily limit 12; possession limit 48

Legal Weapons

Squirrels may be hunted with rimfire rifles or handguns .22 caliber and smaller or with muzzleloaders .40 caliber and smaller, unless a modern gun or muzzleloading deer season, bear season or coyote season is open, in which case you can use any weapon legal for the open season. Squirrels may be hunted with shotguns using shot size T and smaller. No slugs.


Florida’s season is on the shorter end of the southern squirrel hunting spectrum, but still offers almost five full months of opportunity. While gray squirrels and fox squirrels inhabit Florida, you can only harvest gray squirrels. Fox squirrels are considered a State Species of Special Concern in Florida, and therefore protected.

Florida Gray Squirrel Season Dates

October 8, 2022 – March 5, 2023

Bag Limit

12 a day; possession limit 24

Legal Weapons

Rifles, shotguns, pistols, muzzleloaders, air guns, crossbows and bows may be used. Gray squirrel and quail also may be taken during archery, crossbow and muzzleloading gun seasons using the respective methods of take allowed during those seasons.


My home state of Georgia offers a generous squirrel season kicking off in mid-August and running through the end of February. Both gray and fox squirrels can be taken across Georgia (some exceptions apply on public lands), though fox squirrels are much less common and habitat-specific.

Georgia Squirrel Season Dates

August 15, 2022 – February 28, 2023

Bag Limit

12 per day

Legal Weapons

Any .22-caliber or smaller rimfire or air rifle; any muzzleloading firearm; any shotgun having shot shell size 3.5 inches or smaller in length with No. 2 or smaller shot; and any longbow, recurve, compound bow or crossbow.

Special Regulations

Fox squirrels cannot be taken on some Georgia WMAs, so be sure to check the specific regulations when hunting public land.


Louisiana offers both a spring and fall squirrel season. The spring season runs for a few weeks in May, while the fall season opens October 1 and runs through the end of February. Both gray and fox squirrels can be hunted in Louisiana.

Louisiana Squirrel Season Dates

Fall: October 1, 2022 – February 28, 2023

Spring: May 6-28, 2023

Bag Limit

Fall: 8 per day, 24 in possession

Spring: 3 per day, 9 in possession

Legal Weapons

Any .22-caliber or smaller rimfire pistol or rifle; any air rifle; any muzzleloading firearm .36 caliber or smaller; any shotgun 10 gauge or smaller; and any longbow, recurve, compound bow or crossbow.


Mississippi is the only southern state to offer a unique youth squirrel season for a week in late September. That’s immediately followed by the regular squirrel season that runs October through February, as well as a spring season that runs mid-May to June. Like most other southern states, Mississippi hunters can pursue both gray and fox squirrels.

Mississippi Squirrel Season Dates

Youth: September 24-30, 2022

Fall: October 1, 2022 – February 28, 2023

Spring: May 15 – June 1, 2023

Bag Limit

Youth: 8 per day

Fall: 8 per day

Spring: 4 per day

Legal Weapons

Legal weapons for Louisiana squirrel hunting are shotguns using #2 shot or smaller, rifles or handguns no larger than .22 rimfire (which includes .22 magnums), muzzleloading rifles .40 caliber or smaller, and archery equipment using arrows with points other than broadheads.

North Carolina

North Carolina takes a little different approach and separates its gray and red squirrel season from fox squirrel season, with the latter closing at the end of January vs. the end of February for gray and red squirrel season. Bag limits are much smaller for fox squirrels, as well. In addition to North Carolina’s fall squirrel season, there is also a spring season for gray squirrels only, on private land only.

North Carolina Squirrel Season Dates

Fall Gray and Red Squirrel: October 17, 2022 – February 28, 2023

Fall Fox Squirrel: October 17, 2022 – January 31, 2023

Spring Gray Squirrel: May 8-22, 2023 (private land only)

Bag Limit

Fall Gray and Red Squirrel: 8 per day, no possession or season limit

Fall Fox Squirrel: 1 per day, 2 in possession; 10 per season

Spring Gray Squirrel: 8 per day; no possession or season limits

Legal Weapons

Rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, and pistols (no restrictions on caliber and
barrel length) are legal hunting implements for small game hunting in North
Carolina. Long bows, recurves, compound bows and crossbows are legal as well, with the use of blunt-type arrowheads.

South Carolina

Technically, South Carolina has a year-round squirrel season, but you can only harvest squirrels during a portion of that season — October 1 through March 1. The rest of the year is for dog training only. Palmetto State squirrel hunters can shoot both gray and fox squirrels.

South Carolina Squirrel Season Dates

Private Land
March 2 – September 30, 2023 (dogs only)
October 1, 2022 – March 1, 2023 (guns and dogs)

October 1, 2022 – March 1, 2023 (guns and dogs)
September 1-15, 2022 (dogs only)

Bag Limit

10 per day

Legal Weapons

South Carolina squirrel hunters may use .22 caliber or smaller rimfire rifles or handguns; shotguns with shot no larger than No. 2; muzzleloaders .40 caliber or smaller. Squirrel hunters can also use archery equipment with small game tips on the arrows (judo points, bludgeon points, etc.).


Tennessee offers a generous fall squirrel season, from late August until mid-March, as well as a spring season from mid-May to mid-June. Squirrel hunters can pursue gray and fox squirrels across most of the state, as well as American red squirrels in the Appalachian mountains of east Tennessee. The state doesn’t differentiate the three when setting season dates and bag limits.

Tennessee Squirrel Season Dates

Fall: August 27, 2022 – March 15, 2023

Spring: May 13 – June 11, 2023

Bag Limit

10 per day

Legal Weapons

Rifles and handguns using rimfire ammunition and air guns (.25 caliber or smaller); Shotguns using ammunition loaded with number 4 or smaller shot; muzzleloaders .36 caliber or smaller; longbows, recurves, compound bows and crossbows.


These days it seems squirrel hunting has become a lost art. Everyone wants to chase big bucks or gobbling longboards, and I understand. I love to do that myself. But there’s plenty of time outside of deer and turkey season to enjoy a little squirrel hunting action. And thankfully, there are plentiful squirrels across the state to pursue. Not only will you get time in the outdoors and excellent table fare, but you’ll also hone your woodsman ship skills and become a better hunter in the process.

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