Kentucky’s spring squirrel season is now two weeks longer, and opened earlier in the year.
The 28-day season began May 21 and continues through June 17. The daily limit is six squirrels.
Squirrels, the most stable and abundant small game species in Kentucky, have two breeding seasons. “Our spring season is timed to coincide with the spike in squirrel numbers after the year’s first nesting period, and before breeding resumes in July,” said Ben Robinson, a small game biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
In the spring, squirrels eat mostly soft mast, such as the seeds of maple, ash, elm, wild cherry, mulberry, hackberry and box elder trees. “Soft mast is now forming on the trees, so there’s lots of squirrel activity,” Robinson said.
Squirrels also eat grass, along with the occasional mushroom and blackberry. Insects, such as grasshoppers, katydids and locusts, round out the squirrels’ diet.
With trees already leafed out, squirrels have lots of cover. A .410 or a 20-gauge shotgun is a good choice for a hunter. However, a .22-caliber rifle, air gun or small caliber muzzleloading rifle in .32 or .40 caliber may also be used.
Squirrel hunting also is allowed at the newly opened Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area in Meade County. During the spring season, hunters may only use shotguns for squirrels. Otter Creek has designated no hunting zones marked with yellow signs around buildings and camp areas.
Good squirrel hunting is available in all 120 Kentucky counties, and hunting pressure is light during the spring season.
The gray squirrel is the dominant species in the heavily- forested eastern third of Kentucky, with a higher percentage of fox squirrels in the small woodlots and wooded fencerows of agricultural areas in western Kentucky.
Kentucky’s spring squirrel season started as an experiment on four state wildlife management areas in 1994.The season went statewide in 1999.