Rend Lake offer some of the great squirrel hunting in Illinois. Acres and acres of oak-hickory timber in the Shawnee National Forest provide food and shelter to thousands of fox and gray squirrels. Franklin, Jefferson and Perry county are three of south centrals top fox squirrel counties. Jackson, Franklin, Jefferson, Perry, and Williamson, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, are the best gray squirrel counties.
While squirrel season starts in August, the peak of quality squirrel hunting is during the week of September 5-11. This is the time of the year that many nut trees are being visited each morning and late afternoon by the bushytails. Bring your favorite shotgun or .22 caliber rifle to hunt these limb jumpers.
September is a great time to come to south central Illinois and camp in the forest. Wake up to bacon, eggs, and the aroma of fresh coffee in the air. After a quick breakfast, slowly start walking along the ridges listening to fox or gray squirrels jumping from limb to limb in search of nuts. You can hear squirrels cutting nuts for several hundred yards during calm mornings. During the cool mornings, the grays begin cutting nuts from 6 to 7 A.M. The fox squirrels are generally more active after 7 A.M. and during mid-day.
Don’t forget the evening hunt when many squirrels will still be feeding thirty minutes after sun down. Don’t forget hunting the forest during October. Some of the most enjoyable hunts and great eating squirrel are taken during this period. Many young squirrels that were born in late August and September are now putting on fat for winter. Many of these young squirrels (the natives call them white ribs) are easy to hunt and make great eating for a campfire supper. The squirrel season runs from August 1 – December 31. Five squirrels with 10 in possession may be taken.