Where to Shoot a Squirrel (4 Most Common Scenarios)

Video best place to shoot a squirrel

Shooting squirrels is not as easy as it may seem sometimes. They’re a small target, move fast, and sometimes they just don’t come out of the tree.

If you hit a squirrel in the wrong area, it is highly likely to make it back to its nest, where it will curl up and die.

For most scenarios, the best place to shoot a squirrel is in the head.

Where to Shoot a Squirrel With a .22LR

The .22LR is the favored weapon for shooting squirrels across North America. Some people prefer scoped, and some prefer iron sights, but most people will agree that the .22LR is probably the best tool for killing squirrels.

The great thing about using the .22LR for squirrels is that it has just enough stopping power. A misplaced shot on a squirrel with anything bigger than a .22LR is likely to damage a large amount of meat.

Anything smaller than a .22LR, and it’s most likely you will only injure the squirrel if you misplace the shot. While a misplaced shot with a .22LR will still kill the squirrel with minimal damage to the meat. With that being said, you still want your shot to be on target, and with a .22LR, that target is the head.

The head is the best place to shoot a squirrel with a .22LR for three reasons.

  • It’s the fastest kill
  • It doesn’t damage the meat
  • It doesn’t damage the pelt

Unlike hunting a deer where it is easier to aim for the vitals, this is not really practical with a squirrel. A squirrel’s vital area is much too small, and they move too often and too fast to aim for the vitals. A headshot usually signifies instant death for a squirrel, and it’s a good size target to aim for.

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With this being said, a well-placed body shot with a .22LR will kill a squirrel, but if you are hunting for meat, why take the risk of damaging the meat and, more importantly, inuring the squirrel.

Where to Shoot a Squirrel With an Air Rifle

Where to Shoot a Squirrel

If using an air rifle for hunting squirrels, there is only one place to aim, and that is at the head. With a shotgun, a bow, or the .22LR or you can aim for a body shot.

The idea of a body shot really shouldn’t cross your mind with an air rifle. They usually don’t offer enough power to warrant a body shot on a squirrel.

There have been times when I’ve hit squirrels in the body with a .22LR or only to have to follow it up with another shot quickly.

Squirrels are tougher than they look and have a tough hide. Hitting a squirrel anywhere other than the head with an air rifle will most likely just injure them to a point where they will die a slow death in their nest.

Where to Shoot a Squirrel With a Shotgun

While there are a lot of fans for the .22LR when it comes to squirrel hunting, there are still quite a few people who will use nothing but a shotgun for squirrels.

The huge draw for using shotguns when out squirrel hunting is the ability to take a mixed bag.

Many people will claim that using a shotgun on squirrels will ruin the meat. However, most people who have used shotguns on squirrels contest otherwise.

Large squirrels like big fox squirrels have tough hides, and with a well-placed shot from a shotgun, only a few pellets will make it through to the meat. The force from being hit with a shotgun load is enough to knock a squirrel from a tree.

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Shotguns serve great for squirrel hunting in the early season when there is still plenty of foliage on the tree, and it’s hard to get a headshot with a rifle this time of year.

When using a shotgun for squirrel hunting, a headshot is still the best shot you can take. This allows you to get a quick kill without putting too many pellets towards the body.

Where to Shoot a Squirrel With a Bow

Things begin to change when bow hunting for squirrels. No longer are you only limited to a well-placed headshot. While a headshot is still a perfectly fine shot with a bow, you are offered another option.

Choosing a body shot with a bow is perfectly fine as you’re not at risk of ruining too much meat, and there is little chance for the squirrel to escape.

If aiming for a head shot with a bow, it’s best to use judo points or blunts for a quick kill. If aiming for a body shot, it’s the same as a large game animal; you will want to aim just behind the shoulder.

This will put your arrow in contact with the squirrel’s vitals, with a small game head, it will quickly and humanely dispatch the squirrel.


When hunting squirrels, nine times out of ten, it’s best to aim for the head. This offers the cleanest kill and does not harm the meat or the pelt.

The only time you would not aim for the head is when using a bow which offers you the option of aiming for the body.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>