Hunting the Aberts tree squirrel in the Arizona mountains!
I do a lot of squirrel hunting and have done, ever since moving to the Midwest almost 20 years ago. Up until that time, about the only squirrel hunting I had was ground squirrels in California, Arizona. And New Mexico and this is more like prairie dog hunting than being in the woods after tree squirrels. But once I got to Indiana, I really started to focus on this tree dwelling small game species! My first couple years I did alright, but not great……. then I met Randy Mitchel on one of the airgun forums and he invited me to hunt with him in Kentucky. I drove down a few times to hunt with him and picked up quite a few hints that started to improve my game significantly. As a matter of fact, I started to limit out so regularly that I placed self-imposed bag limits because I didn’t know what to do with the quantity of squirrels I was harvesting.
It quickly got to the point that I was traveling all over the Midwest and Eastern states to hunt squirrels, fox, grays, and I even started going after specific color phases. On a backpacking trip with my son in Colorado I ran into the Aberts squirrel for the first time, and thought they were an incredible looking little animal, the coloration and tufted ears made them about the coolest squirrel I’d ever seen. A few years later I was hunting rabbits in Arizona, and a friend mentioned that he hunted Aberts squirrels up in the mountains……….. that’s all it took! I went online found the season, started searching for places to hunt online, spoke to my buddy Kip Perow for some local advice, and planned a hunt after the Extreme Benchrest competition.
After the competition I headed up to a spot I located online in the Tanto National forest loaded up guns and gear and was off. These pine woods are beautiful, with a lot of rugged landscape and elevation to hike through in search of these squirrels. I hunt them a lot of different ways, spot and stalk finding them either up in the trees or on the ground foraging or finding potential den trees and/or feeding areas and setting up an ambush. I’ve used .22 and .25 caaliber guns in the 25-50 fpe range with good effect, though next season I may give one of my .30’s a try!
In places where you find squirrels, my experience has been that the populations are generally reasonable. I don’t think they get the kind of pressure their midwestern cousin have to deal with. The limits in Arizona are five per day, and with one exception on my last half dozen trips this was do-able on most days. There is a lot of public land to hunt in the state, as well as Colorado and (I believe) New Mexico. With out a doubt my favorite squirrel hunt and the key element of the squirrel hunting grand slam!