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Squirrel hunting in California can be fun because of one reason; they only allow you to hunt tree squirrels of the genus Sciurus and Tamiasciurus. You enjoy the moment when you aim and bring down a stealthily moving squirrel making up and down rounds on the tree. However, before the fun and bliss, you have to obtain a valid hunting license from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
What Happens During an Open General Tree Squirrel Season?
When the squirrel hunting season opens in Canada, several events take place. You will have to follow the rules and regulations to the core while every other activity proceeds. Below are some of the hunting activities that take place in California.
Taking Down Tree Squirrels
If you want to take down tree squirrels, you can only do so in the open zone when the open season runs. The duration lasts between 1 1/2 hours before sunrise and 1 ½ an hour after sunset every day during the open season. While obtaining your license from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, you can also request the map of the state’s tree squirrel hunt zones and the full regulations.
Choosing the Type of Tree Squirrel to Hunt
There are four types of tree squirrels under the game species category that you can hunt in California. You will find the Western gray squirrel and the Douglas squirrel, which are both natives of California. Also, you can find the eastern fox squirrel and the eastern gray squirrel, which are not natives of the state.
You can hunt all the available tree squirrels species under the same regulations, whether natives or not. Plus, you can only hunt them during the open hunting season in the open zone while following the rules and authority of California’s hunting license.
The only exception to this list of tree squirrel species you can hunt here is the Northern Flying squirrel. It does not rank as a game species, and therefore, by law, you cannot take it down during the hunt. Your barely see them during the open hunting period. This is thanks to their nocturnal nature and preference to stick to mature forest habitats with sophisticated canopy structures.
Where to Find the Different Types of Squirrels in California?
Knowing which squirrel species to expect in the California hunting fields is one step to a successful hunting escapade. You should go a step further to know these squirrels’ exact locations and habitat. With all other factors constant, some squirrel species are more common in some parts of the state than others. This is their distribution pattern according to their species.
When you choose to hunt the Douglas squirrel over the other species, then there are specific locations you ought to concentrate on to find them. You will mainly find them in hardwood-conifer, conifers, and riparian lands of the Klamath, Cascade, Sierra Nevada, Warner Ranges, and North Coast.
This species of squirrels prefer a majority of California counties that are 11,000 feet above sea level. These counties include Alpine, Mono, Mendocino, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Calaveras, Colusa and Del Norte El Dorado. The Fresno, Inyo, Glenn, Humboldt, Madera, Kem, Lake, Lessen, Mariposa, Sonoma, Siskiyou, Trinity, Tehama, Tulare, and Yuba counties also harbors them among others.
Western Gray Squirrels
For the Western Gray squirrel enthusiasts, you will need to know their hideouts and habitats within the state of California. Great news is that you can find them widespread throughout the state. The only counties you are likely to miss them are San Francisco, Imperial, Contra Costa, and King Counties of California.
You will primarily find them in the woody habitats of mature Conifers, mixed hardwood-conifer, and hardwood habitats. These habitats are available in the Cascade, Klamath, Transverse, Sierra Nevada, and Peninsular mountain ranges. You can as well find them in the riparian lands in the central valley.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
Being non-natives, after their introduction to the California habitat, the Eastern Gray squirrel has since advanced into the interiors of the heavily wooded areas. You are most likely to find them in the San Francisco Bay area’s urban parks and going all the way through to Santa Cruz County. You will also not miss them in the central valley’s urban settings and along the Calaveras River.
They mostly displace and replace other species they find habiting in a given setup. But, we cannot articulately prove that they displace the native California Gray squirrel. However, evidence shows that they easily displace and replace the Eastern Fox Squirrel anywhere they cohabit.
Eastern Fox Squirrels
They were first introduced in California over 100 years ago in the county of Los Angeles. Since then, the squirrels have been advancing their territories in California’s valleys, redwood, foothill riparian, and the valley foothill hardwood habitats.
When cohabiting with the native gray squirrels, they easily outdo and replace them in these habitats. This is thanks to their ability to eat a wide variety of foods. They also do well in open and urban areas and can produce two litters of pup per year. The eastern gray squirrel on the other hand, can produce one litter of pup at the same time.
Currently, you can easily get them in the urban setup or near-urban setup of the California state. They are all over the vineyards and orchards around the coastal metropolitan areas. The towns and counties you are likely to spot them include Los Angeles, Marin, Mendocino, Orange and Alameda. You can also find them in the counties of Contra Costa, Merced, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Shasta, Santa Cruz, Ventura, and Solano.
There are numerous hunting spots where you can find squirrels in California. When you understand the species you want to hunt down, you make it easier for you to narrow them down to their preferred locations. A mixture of these species always inhabits most of the open hunting grounds. This can be an added advantage if you desire to diversify and try out new meat.
If you keep the rules in mind and follow them to the latter, you will have an easy time hunting in California.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.