Fall squirrel season opens Saturday

Posted August 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Kentucky’s fall squirrel season is a 196-day split season which kicks off the calendar of fall hunting.

The first segment of the fall squirrel season opens Aug. 17 and closes on Nov. 8. The season opens again Nov. 11 and runs through Feb. 28, 2014.

The daily bag limit is six squirrels.

There’s a close relationship between a year’s nut production and the following year’s squirrel population levels. Last fall’s mast survey rated white oak and hickory nut production as average, red oak as good and the beech nut crop failed.

The department’s annual mast survey, held since 1953, begins on Aug. 15 and runs through Sept. 1.

Biologists survey the foods that are most important to Kentucky’s forest wildlife such as squirrels, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and bear. They walk the same route every year and estimate the year’s mast crop based on what they observe.

Weather extremes, such as late frosts and heavy rains in spring and summer droughts, can limit the amount and quality of mast.

Hickory nuts begin to mature in August and acorns and beechnuts in September and October. Late winter is the time when food availability becomes most critical to squirrels and can impact their body condition heading into the breeding season.

Squirrel hunters can help management efforts by taking part in the Squirrel Hunting Cooperator Survey. The voluntary program, which started in 1995, supplies information that biologists use to monitor squirrel population trends in Kentucky.

Last season, the survey detailed 1,123 squirrel hunts in 69 Kentucky counties. Hunters reported they saw 5.5 squirrels per hunt and bagged 1.9 squirrels per hour.