Area hunters who have been biding their time need bide no more. Squirrel season in Georgia opens Thursday (Aug. 15). In Tennessee, squirrel hunters can return to the woods, gun in hand, on Aug. 24. And by the way, in Tennessee, Aug. 24 is Free Hunting Day, when no license is required.
"Squirrel hunting in the fall has always been a significant cultural hunting tradition in Georgia," said John Bowers, chief of the Georgia Game Management Section.
Traditional maybe, but both the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency have been virtually "begging" squirrel hunters to get back in the woods for years. There was a time in Tennessee when opening day of squirrel season brought the same excitement as the first home game at Neyland Stadium. As the popularity of whitetail deer hunting grew, however, squirrel hunting seemed to almost go the way of the passenger pigeon.
TWRA claims there are still about 100,000 people in the state who squirrel hunt. Those hunters must, however, remain very well hidden. Visit the nearby Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area during squirrel season, and you can seemingly have the entire 23,000 acres all to yourself.
Bledsoe County's Patrick Roberson will be in the woods at first light on the 24th.
"A successful squirrel hunt doesn't take all day," Roberson said. "Squirrel hunting will train your eyes and ears to enjoy the nature around you by watching and listening to the slightest changes."
Bag limits for squirrels have increased until they are almost realistically nonexistent. Georgia hunters can take a dozen squirrels per day. In Tennessee, the limit is 10.
"The relaxation and pleasure of following a good squirrel dog in the woods can only be topped by a hot pot of squirrel and dumplings," Roberson said.