What if I told you that for 50 cents, you could carry a squirrel call into the woods that is effective at getting the attention of squirrels in the early fall woods, even in areas where squirrels are pressured and there’s a lot of whitetail hunting activity?
Sure, the bellows-style and squeaker squirrel calls sort of work. They sound enough like a squirrel, but personally, I’ve never had much luck with them.
They can create chatter, barking, whistling and squeaking, but to me, they just don’t quite sound like a squirrel. Maybe I’m a bad caller, or the squirrels don’t like my accent. I don’t know, my game bag during small game season doesn’t indicate I don’t know the habits of squirrels.
But that’s beside the point. Others have had success with machine-made squirrel calls, but I haven’t. If they work for you, have at it. There are 100 ways to skin a cat…er, a squirrel.
But here’s another point. Manufactured squirrel calls, whether they work or not, are not cheap. I mean, they are cheap compared to high end duck and turkey calls. But they’re not cheap cheap. Expect to spend ten dollars or more for a good quality squirrel call, such as Faulk’s.
But anyway, I’m getting off topic again. Instead of parting with ten bucks or more, why not spend 50 cents and use the best squirrel call in the woods. One I have used, and called squirrels out with, and can personally vouch for.
It does require both hands to operate (most calls require one, anyway), but it has a lot of advantages. It does not require you to use your mouth, it is completely waterproof and weatherproof, and works just as well in wet, humid air as it does in dry air. It’s also versatile and you can make several different types of calls with it.
Plus, have I mentioned it only costs 50 cents?
Not only does it only cost 50 cents, it literally is 50 cents. As in, it’s two quarters.
That’s right, only in the squirrel woods can you “spend” your pocket change and bring home dinner. You can’t do that in any grocery store nowadays.
The 50-Cent Squirrel Call: Cutting with Quarters
In the fall woods, squirrels gather up beech nuts and hickory nuts. Some of these they bury in the forest floor in special caches.
Others they take up into the treetops to consume at their leisure. When they do so, they have to cut through the thick husks of these nuts. This makes a very recognizable sound that’s called (unsurprisingly) “cutting.”
Cutting is a call that you can easily replicate with two quarters. To do so, hold one quarter in your non-dominant hand as shown in the picture below.
Holding the quarter like this enables you to make an acoustic chamber by cupping the rest of your fingers around it. By holding the quarter like this, you’re basically creating a drum with the quarter serving as the drum skin and your hand serving as the shell. You can make some pretty loud calls like this, but you can also mute them.
It’s whatever you need. If you want your calls to sound loud and clear through the fall trees, cup your hand. If you want a quieter, toned-down cutting call, open your hand more.
Then take the other quarter between the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand and use the edge of it to strike the flat surface of the quarter in your other hand.
Make a sharp series of rapping taps in succession, like the sound of a squirrel aggressively biting through the husk of a nut.
Don’t be too rhythmic in your cadence, as this will sound unnatural. Squirrels will make a few bites in succession, then take a pause for a half a second or a second before beginning again.
Vary the vigor with which you strike the quarter as well as the series of notes you create. Try making quicker, sharper calls, then slower, harder cuts.
This variability sounds more natural and is more likely to get the attention of a squirrel in the woods.
This call works. It often gets squirrels that were in hiding or pressed down flat on the trees to stick their heads up. My theory is that it makes the squirrels angry, jealous or testy. Perhaps they’re wondering what other squirrel stepped into “their” living room and started chowing down.
That’s a theory, but it makes sense to me. Either way, you can’t argue with results. These calls have worked for me on several occasions.
The 50-Cent Squirrel Call: Don’t Have a Name for This One, We’ll Call It Grinding
There’s another type of call you can make with the “50-cent squirrel call,” although I don’t have a name for this type of squirrel sound. I’ve never heard it mentioned by other hunters, either, but I know what it sounds like.
Whereas “cutting” refers to the sound squirrels make when chewing through the husks of nuts, this call is intended to replicate the sound squirrels make when they actually open the nut and start eating. We’ll call it grinding, because, well, that’s sort of what it sounds like.
To make this call, the same rules for holding the one quarter in your non-dominant hand still apply, as do the principles of volume control.
In your dominant hand, take your other quarter in the same manner described above, but instead of tapping the quarters together, what you want to do is press the milled edge of the one quarter against the flat surface of the other, and start moving it around in a roughly circular motion. (Put the sound up on the video below if you can’t hear it well.)
This will produce a coarse grating sound that is somewhat similar to the sounds squirrels make when eating.
In my (albeit limited) experience, squirrels respond better to cutting than to this grinding sound, but it still often gets their attention and persuades them to betray their location in the trees. In the leafy, early fall woods, that’s often all you need to secure a successful harvest.
Ready for Fall? (Me Too)
Give these calls a go when the fall squirrel season opens up in your neck of the woods. They’ve worked for me and I’m sure they’ve worked for other hunters, too, and you have absolutely nothing to lose.
The squirrels are unlikely to have heard this specific call before, so you may have the element of surprise – and what’s best about it is I all but guarantee it’ll be the cheapest call in your vest.
~The Eclectic Outfitter