SQUIRREL

There are tens of thousands of acres of public lands within easy driving distance of Monroe County that offer squirrel hunting opportunities. (Photo/Terry Johnson)

You do not have to be very old to remember when squirrel hunting season opened on a cool November day. Such is not the case anymore. For the past several decades, squirrel season has commenced on a hot and humid day in August. This year is no exception. The 2019-20 Squirrel Hunting Season opens Thursday, Aug. 15 and closes Feb. 29.

Needless to say, it is far and away our longest hunting season. This hunting marathon opens in summer, runs through fall, and finally reaches the finish line within a couple of weeks of the end of winter. Just in case you are wondering how many days you will be able to hunt squirrels, the answer is 199.

As has been the case for many years, the daily bag limit is 12. Legal shooting hours extend from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.

Legal firearms include .22 caliber or smaller rimfire rifles, air rifles, any muzzleloading firearm, as well as shotguns using shells size 3.5 inches or smaller in length loaded with No. 2 or smaller shot.

If you are not lucky enough to have a place on private land to hunt squirrels, there are literally tens of thousands of acres of public lands located within easy driving distance of Monroe County that offer seemingly limitless squirrel hunting opportunities.

Local hunters are blessed with a state WMA, national wildlife refuge, and national forest located literally at their doorstep.

If you prefer to hunt squirrels without leaving your home county, the Rum Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is open for squirrel hunting Aug. 15-Oct. 6, Oct. 14-30, Nov. 3-13, and Nov. 17-Feb. 29.

For those that want to test their ability to bag a squirrel with archery equipment, the Rum Creek-Berry Creek Area is just the place to hunt. This area is open for archery-only squirrel hunting from Nov. 15-Feb. 29, 2020.

Travel east from Juliette and you will find the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. This year the refuge’s squirrel season is divided into five segments. These installments are Aug. 15-Sept. 13, Oct. 7-17, Oct. 20-30, Nov. 10-13, and Nov. 17-Feb. 29. Contact the United States Fish and Wildlife Service at 478-986-5441 before embarking on a squirrel hunting trip to this sprawling refuge. The refuge personnel will provide you with informating relating to the special regulations that pertain to hunting on the refuge.

If you drive east on Georgia Highway 83, shortly after you pass over the Ocmulgee River you will enter the Oconee National Forest. The forest is open for squirrel hunting from Aug. 15-Feb. 29. If you would like additional information regarding squirrel hunting on the Oconee National Forest, call 706-485-1776.

Three state WMAs are situated near Eatonton. All of them offer squirrel hunting this year. The squirrel hunting dates for the B.F. Grant WMA are Aug. 15-Sept. 13, Sept. 23-Nov. 6, Nov. 10-20, and Nov. 24-Dec. 4, Dec. 9-19, and Dec. 23-Feb. 29.

The squirrel hunting dates for the Cedar Creek WMA are August 15-October 16, October 30-November 13, November 17-25, and December 2-February 29.

The Cedar Creek - Little River Area is open for squirrel hunting August 15-October 11, and October 19-February 29.

West of Forsyth squirrel hunters can hunt bushytails on three WMAs that hug the Flint River just south of Thomaston. The 7,200-acre Big Lazer Creek WMA is open for squirrel hunting August 15-September 27, September 30-October 16, October 20-November 20 and November 27-February 29.

Squirrel hunting on the nearby Sprewell Bluff WMA - East is limited to hunters using shotguns and archery equipment from August 15-February 29. If you hunt squirrels here, you must use a shotgun or archery equipment.

The squirrel season on the Sprewell Bluff - West WMA runs from August 15-February 29. Hunters can hunt squirrel here using any legal squirrel hunting weapon.

For additional information regarding squirrel hunting opportunities on both federal and state lands grab a copy of the 2019-20 Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide at your local hunting license dealer. The guide can also be viewed online at www.GoHuntGeorgia.com.

Questions regarding hunting on the WMAs mentioned here should be directed to the Game Management Section in Fort Valley (478-825-6354).

One final note -- interactive maps for all of Georgia’s WMAs can be downloaded at georgiawildlife.com/AllWMAs.

Terry Johnson is retired Program Manager of the Georgia Nongame-Endangered Wildlife Program. He has written the informative column ‘Monroe Outdoors’ for the Reporter for many years. His book, “A Journey to Discovery,” is available at The Reporter. Email him at tjwoodduck@bellsouth.net.