A squirrel is defined in the dictionaries as “a small, agile quadruped.” Some of the definitions of the squirrel are less plain and or easily understood; but there’s no doubt about the squirrel. Go gunning for him and you have a hard target to hit because agility is his middle name.
Naturalists tell us that squirrels are really just one end of a family of critters that includes very agile creatures like the woodchuck, or, in the vernacular, groundhog. Their scientific family name is Sciuridae. This family includes prairie dogs, chipmunks, ground squirrels, flying squirrels, etc. But it’s the tree dwelling squirrels that we’re interested in here in this article. Squirrels of one form or another are found all over the US and Canada, except in the treeless deserts.
There are three kinds of squirrel that are actually considered game which are the fox squirrel, gray squirrel and red squirrel. Naturalists separate the groups into several different varieties according to range and slight color variations, but as far as hunting and eating goes the different types are all the same, except that the red squirrel is less highly hunted for supper than the fox or grays. There’s also the beautiful but small flying squirrel. Shame on you if you’re trying to hunt the flying squirrel. Its size is hardly enough to for a mouth full, and also it feeds mostly at night so can’t very easily be hunted.
The red squirrel is mostly found in the north, especially the New England States and Canada. It is, in fact, the only squirrel found in the coldest parts of the American continent. The fox squirrel formerly had a wide range all over the east, south and timbered parts of the west. It’s still frequently seen in the south, and probably in the west, but throughout most of its eastern range ot the Allegheny Mountains. It prefers the solitude of large forests. But the gray squirrel still can be found wherever there are sufficient areas of timber to provide it an area to nest and some privacy. The gray squirrel is not nearly so shy as the fox squirrel and to find protection from hunters he will happily find a home right in the heart of a city if there’s trees there. You’ll find these rascals in nearly every city park of any size. The squirrels create a very real atmosphere of the outdoors for the city children and possibly older folks like myself.
Gunning for squirrel in the south is an art for skilled hunters and the one that bags a bunch of them is considered something of a expert and a patient hunter. The squirrel hunter in the south frequently puts in a lot of hours bagging one squirrel.