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Small Game: Ralph E. Simmons WMA in Nassau County

strap89strap89 Posts: 29 Deckhand
Relatively new to hunting, and small game has been my ticket this year. Went to Ralph E. Simmons up in Nassau County along the St. Mary's...nothing, absolutely dead. Did not see a squirrel or rabbit the whole weekend. I had noted that it looked like they had been doing some controlled burns throughout the year...not sure what kind of impact that would have.

I guess I'm looking for some experiences at the WMA...general impressions. Also looking for some small game advice...techniques developed over the years. Also, is there quail anywhere in Northeast Florida?

Replies

  • FlredbonesFlredbones Posts: 261 Officer
    When it comes to squirrels, if you're in a "squirelly" spot, you'll either see all of them or none of them. I don't know what turns them on and off but i have noticed when they're moving around a lot around the house they'll be doing the same in the woods. When it comes to rabbits you're best times are going to be right at first legal light and at the end of legal. Any other time and you're gonna be lucky too see one. Best advice is spend as much time out there as you can and you'll eventually learn the habits of your prey over time.
  • dilligaf84dilligaf84 Posts: 876 Officer
    I have the same problem! If I'm deer hunting the squirrels are everywhere, but when I'm looking for squirrels I cant find one anywhere.
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 2,235 Captain
    Not familiar with this WMA, so can't relay anything directly correlated to this location, but Eastern Grey Squirrels are pretty uniform in their habits throughout the native range.

    Very basically, and I'm sure that you know this, but in case you are new to busting squirrels, you'll find them more active from just after daylight to about mid-morning, and again from about mid-afternoon to dark. We've had an excellent mast crop over most of the Southeast this year (don't know about this WMA) so the squirrels will be spending more time on the ground.

    One big factor in squirrel movement and feeding is correlated with barometric pressure that indicates bad weather coming in. These animals, as is most wildlife, are very sensitive to this, and will feed heavier for 24-36 hours prior to the onset of bad weather and heavy rains. After the weather has improved its been my observation that squirrels will delay heavy feeding for a day or so. Why, I have no idea. Others may disagree with this. Very cold weather in our area will slow up their activity also, but I think its got to get really cold like down in the low 20's-upper teens at night to have a significant effect on squirrels' movements.

    With the really heavy mast production that we've had ground feeding presently dominates, but a squirrel's diet also heavily includes tender young buds growing up in the trees, so keep a good lookout up in the bare canopy also. (The diet: about 85% vegetative/mast, and 15% or so protein in the form of bird nestlings, tree frogs, larger insects and spiders).

    One thing about our Grey Squirrels that you never hear mentioned and not one in hundreds knows this, but these animals have a sense of smell equal to or better than deer, bear and fox (and others). So keep this in mind and slowly work your way up wind!
  • drgibbydrgibby Posts: 1,873 Captain
    I hunt East of Hilliard in Nassau Co. This years mast crop was the worst we have seen in 15 or 20 years. Kind of strange since the rest of the state has had a bumper crop of acorns.
  • strap89strap89 Posts: 29 Deckhand
    drgibby wrote: »
    I hunt East of Hilliard in Nassau Co. This years mast crop was the worst we have seen in 15 or 20 years. Kind of strange since the rest of the state has had a bumper crop of acorns.

    Well that might explain it...I've never seen a forest so dead.
  • strap89strap89 Posts: 29 Deckhand
    Not familiar with this WMA, so can't relay anything directly correlated to this location, but Eastern Grey Squirrels are pretty uniform in their habits throughout the native range.

    Very basically, and I'm sure that you know this, but in case you are new to busting squirrels, you'll find them more active from just after daylight to about mid-morning, and again from about mid-afternoon to dark. We've had an excellent mast crop over most of the Southeast this year (don't know about this WMA) so the squirrels will be spending more time on the ground.

    One big factor in squirrel movement and feeding is correlated with barometric pressure that indicates bad weather coming in. These animals, as is most wildlife, are very sensitive to this, and will feed heavier for 24-36 hours prior to the onset of bad weather and heavy rains. After the weather has improved its been my observation that squirrels will delay heavy feeding for a day or so. Why, I have no idea. Others may disagree with this. Very cold weather in our area will slow up their activity also, but I think its got to get really cold like down in the low 20's-upper teens at night to have a significant effect on squirrels' movements.

    With the really heavy mast production that we've had ground feeding presently dominates, but a squirrel's diet also heavily includes tender young buds growing up in the trees, so keep a good lookout up in the bare canopy also. (The diet: about 85% vegetative/mast, and 15% or so protein in the form of bird nestlings, tree frogs, larger insects and spiders).

    One thing about our Grey Squirrels that you never hear mentioned and not one in hundreds knows this, but these animals have a sense of smell equal to or better than deer, bear and fox (and others). So keep this in mind and slowly work your way up wind!


    Excellent info, just what I'm looking for. The front blew through the day we got out there...didn't get down to the 20's, more like high 30's, but if what you're saying is true we were there after any pre-weather feeding. Perhaps this and the historically bad mast crop in Hilliard were working against us. Thanks!
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