Ripe hickory nuts, plentiful acorns, aromatic walnuts, and cool fall mornings set the stage for squirrel hunting across the Midwest.

These, and other food sources, are the places to spend your time when pursuing squirrels during the fall months.

Hickory nuts — A variety of hickory species thrive throughout the Midwest. Some, like the small pignut hickory, produce nuts in the milky stage as early as mid-July. Squirrels flock to them, often feeding in one tree until every nut has been consumed.

A .17- or .22-caliber rifle topped with a scope is a good choice for squirrels after the leaves have begun to fall.

September brings the ripened phase for the big hickory nuts, the shagbark and shell-barks. These are the nuts which most people recognize as hickory nuts. Squirrels quickly gnaw through the green outer husk to tackle the hard inner shell. Inside is sweet nut meat, which squirrels crave.

The rodents will travel long distances to feed on mature hickory nuts. It is not uncommon for squirrel hunters to harvest an entire limit of squirrels from one hickory tree.

Hunters should watch for activity high in the top branches, where most of the nuts are found. Listen for the familiar grating sound of squirrels “cutting” on hickory nuts. Squirrels feeding on hickory nuts can often be heard before they are seen.

A good .22 rifle topped with a quality scope is often the perfect medicine for these hungry squirrels feeding high in the tallest trees. This type of hunting is also perfect practice for the upcoming deer season. It sharpens hunting skills and allows the hunter to work out any quirks in his hunting methods.

Practice in the woods certainly helps establish the right kind of mental attitude for those long sits coming in November during deer season.

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