The off-season can be a restless time for hunters who would love to be out in the field pursuing their favorite game. Sure, there may be a few spring hunting seasons open, such as turkey or snow geese, but those seasons are typically limited to a short time period.
If you want to be out hunting regularly during the spring and summer, there are some other options. One of those is the woodchuck. As with predators such as coyotes or fox, woodchucks are typically available for hunting throughout the year, in many areas.
Admittedly, woodchucks do not hold the same lure as deer, bear or elk, but they do offer a chance to be out in the field. They also present the opportunity for live practice, which means you can keep your hunting skills sharp by pursuing these rodents.
In addition to practice, hunting woodchucks can be a good way to build relationships with landowners to secure deer or bear hunting opportunities in the fall. Most farmers view the woodchuck as a nuisance that causes damage. If you can offer your skills to eliminate that nuisance, you may build some goodwill toward earning a place to hunt in the fall.
If you want to give woodchuck hunting a try, concentrate your efforts on farmland. Look for woodchuck burrows along the edges of farm fields, especially where farm fields meet a wooded area, or along drainage ditches. In many cases, the woodchucks will leave a mound where they have dug their dens. This is a good tipoff to their location. Usually, when you find one burrow, there will be a few others in the same vicinity.
Once you find an area with burrows, set up nearby, somewhere with a good vantage point, where you have a clear shot at the woodchucks. An elevated area is ideal. The distance is up to you, depending on what type of shot you want to practice, but 50-100 yards is a good range.
Unlike predators, such as coyotes or fox, woodchucks will be active throughout the day, so you can hunt them when it fits your schedule. However, afternoon is often the best time for activity. When the weather is cool, you may find them outside their burrows during the afternoon, sunning themselves. Feeding activity occurs throughout the day.
The best time of year to hunt woodchucks is in the spring, before grasses and farm crops get too high to see the rodents. After that it can become difficult to spot them. However, if you know an area with active burrows it is still possible to find good woodchuck action throughout the summer.
Just as you would for other types of hunting, it is best to wear camo and try to stay out of sight when woodchuck hunting. The animals will spot you, if you are being careless and they will retreat to their dens. This presents another good opportunity to practice for the fall hunting seasons.
Woodchuck hunting is not for everyone, but if you are a dedicated hunter, who is looking for off-season hunting opportunities, or if you just want to keep your hunting skills in fall-season form; then woodchucks offer a chance to be out enjoying your sport, during a time of year with very few other hunting options.
© Roger De Montfort | Dreamstime.com – Woodchuck peering out