John's Journal...

Boating for Squirrels

Day 3: Strategies for Taking Squirrels

Editor’s Note: Boat hunting for squirrels is hunting the crowds never find. It’s quiet, productive, and more fun than regular hunting ever can be. Many states have a small-game season during February. One of my favorite ways to hunt squirrels is by water.

Click for Larger ViewI’ve discovered several strategies that have produced limits of bushytails for me during the winter.

Bank Cruising – Slipping silently down the bank, a sportsman will see many bushytails within easy range for his .22. However, because of the lack of a rest and the movement of the canoe, the hunter and the squirrel, I’ve found that I bag far more squirrels by taking shots 50% closer than I normally will if I’m on the land. Click for Larger ViewIf you feel that you can accurately down a squirrel at 50 to 60 yards standing on the bank, then more than likely your effective killing range from a canoe will be 25 to 30 yards. If 30 yards is your maximum killing range with a .22, then don’t take any shots at squirrels that appear at more than 10- to 15-yards from the bank. And yes, you can get that close to them by silently maneuvering your canoe or flat-bottomed john boat to them.

Boat Stalking – You can stalk a squirrel with your canoe or boat. Try and paddle as close as you can to the squirrel, before you take a shot. In many cases, the bushytails will be feeding at the edge of the water or in trees that hang out over the water. To be effective, move your canoe or boat as close as possible before you shoot. This tactic requires silent sculling and paddling as little as possible while still moving the boat forward.

Cut-Off Hunting – Although most of us prefer a quick, clean one-shot kill, on occasions we will miss a squirrel and frighten it away. I have learned that if a squirrel runs down the bank parallel to your canoe that you can get ahead of the bushytails and wait on them to run into your gunsights by paddling quickly and quietly.

Click for Larger ViewSquirrel Driving – When the leaves are dry, you know that anyone moving-through the forest will drive the squirrels away. So, instead have two hunters hunt in tandem, and both can bag more tree rats. By one sportsman’s being in the canoe along the water’s edge, he can bag the squirrels that the walking hunter drives to him. If the boat shooter misses, he may drive the squirrels to turn and run toward the bank stalker. Click for Larger ViewUsing this method, both hunters usually bag more squirrels than either hunter can bag individually.

Shore Sitting – Sometimes there are tactical advantages to using the canoe or boat to scout from and then leaving the craft to bag the squirrels. Some hunters still may be a little uncomfortable shooting from a canoe or a boat and feel they have a better advantage by sitting still on the bank, waiting for the woods to settle and then shooting the squirrels when they reappear. The boat or the canoe provides a productive scouting vehicle for these hunters that makes little if any noise and helps them locate the very-best places to take their stands.

Tomorrow: Using Binoculars, Riflescopes and Calls for Squirrels


Check back each day this week for more about "Boating for Squirrels "

Day 1: Choosing the Right Boat for Hunting Squirrels
Day 2: Equipment and Boat Position to Hunt Squirrels
Day 3: Strategies for Taking Squirrels
Day 4: Using Binoculars, Riflescopes and Calls for Squirrels
Day 5: Screaming to Squirrels

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Entry 651, Day 3