Check out these small game hunting tips for your next trip

If you’re new to hunting or want to introduce your kids to the sport, hunting small game is the right way to go.

But different animals move differently and require different tactics to hunt. You will learn this quickly, even if you are a beginner.

In this post, I will small game hunting a little easier for you by sharing tips on hunting the most commonly hunted small game.

But before I do, here’s a quick reminder: Get your license!

Find out whether hunting a specific animal is legal in your area, and whether or not you require a license for it. You want to avoid all the unnecessary legal trouble and fines.

The lines can sometimes be a little blurred as to what is considered small game. For instance, a grouse is sometimes considered a bird and other times a furbearer. 

However, it’s easy to find what the designation is for a given species and learn whether or not a license is needed to hunt that particular animal.

Also, don’t forget that using a red dot sight will make you faster and more accurate than using bare iron sights, so please get a red dot as soon as possible!

Tips for Small Game Hunting

Rabbits 

Rabbits are some of the most common small game hunted across America.

The best way to hunt rabbits is to hunt at dusk and dawn. Years ago, rabbits wouldn’t be afraid to move around in daylight. However, they’ve now adapted to feed and move at the break of dawn. They also move about just before the sun sets.

One good way to guess where the rabbits are is to find the best vegetation in the area. 

Do you see patches of blackberry, honeysuckle, or plum? It’s worth looking around those patches. You can also look for “the sign” – rabbit droppings.

Hitting spots with dense vegetation is your best bet. Rabbit is best hunted with a gun with a scope or with a small caliber ammo rifle.

Ducks 

Ducks are another popular choice when small game hunting.

Using decoys is great – hunters have been doing it for years. However, using the right decoys is critical to small game hunting success.

Do you see more wood ducks than, say, mallard? Then you must use wood duck decoys. This is because ducks have excellent eyesight, and their instincts attract them to their own species.

Another important thing to remember when hunting duck is that timing of the call is key. The best time to call ducks is it appears as if they’re leaving. You must resist over-calling – you only need one duck to turn your way, the rest will tag along.

Concealing yourself is also very important if you plan on hunting some duck.

Squirrels 

Squirrels can make for a great meal, which tastes better if they torment you every deer season.

Getting some acorns will help you lure the squirrels out. Squirrels prefer white oak acorns; however, they also get attracted to hickory nuts and black walnuts.

The secret to hunting squirrels is patience. Go slow, and if you find a good tree, stand near it for at least 10 minutes. If you find a spot you think could have a lot of squirrels running around, stay there for 30 minutes. 

Squirrels are most active early in the morning, but there’s also some activity at sunset. Beginning your hunting session a little before sunrise will increase your chances of hunting down a squirrel.

Hogs

With more and more hunters hunting hogs, the hogs have adapted by becoming nocturnal. It’s best to hunt for hogs after sunset.

Being quiet is a must – hogs have excellent hearing, and they will hear you if you cough, sneeze, or even flick the safety of your rifle. 

Digging a hole and using bait like ripe fruit or corn is another effective tactic.

It’s easy to find calls and scents that attract hogs, too. Hogs love berries and molasses, and you can find these scents at your local hunting store. 

But you must remember to remove traces of your scent by washing your hunting clothes in hot water that mixed with baking soda. 

Do not use detergent to wash your clothes or wear deodorant or perfume when hunting. The hogs will detect you and retreat.

Pheasants

The best time to hunt Pheasants is early in the morning – before the other hunters arrive. This is because it’s easier to find the birds around light cover as they search for food.

One great way to find the Pheasants are is to look for the signs – roosters crowing and Pheasant tracks are a dead giveaway that a Pheasant is nearby.

If there’s corn growing around the area, check there first. Pheasants love corn, and there’s a high chance that you will find at least a few birds there.

The birds also like cattails, which is important to note.

If you want to make Pheasant hunting easier, use a climbing tree stand

Since Pheasant hunting laws vary from location to location, make sure you know what the regulations are where you live before you go small game hunting.

Fox

Foxes are roughly the same size as cats and dogs. So the most important tip I have for you is that you be careful and ensure that you’re hunting the right animal.

Keep your flashlight/lamp cranked to a minimum, so you don’t alert the fox and scare it away.

Foxes have a sharp sense of smell, and keeping the wind in your face is an excellent way to ensure that foxes don’t detect you. 

But outsmarting a fox can be very difficult – you must keep changing your calls since they quickly catch on to repetition.

Coyote

Coyotes are just as smart as foxes are, if not smarter. You must go in quiet, and make sure that you get the coyote in the first shot.

The coyote will associate your call with you getting them, and attracting a coyote again will be a lot more difficult. Try using a specialized coyote call.

Blending into your surroundings is critical since coyotes have excellent vision. If you forget to wear a face mask, they will spot you, and likely won’t return.

And with that, you know a lot more about small game hunting than most!

This is me, Steve Coffman. I'm the Chief Editor of IGFA. I'm retired military personnel who is now into shooting and hunting. As an outdoor expert, I have experience in dealing with all kinds of guns, from light to heavy firearms. Currently, I'm spending my time hunting, shooting and writing on my blog.