John's Journal...


Boat Hunting

Editor’s Note: To squirrel hunt, one of my favorite hunting sports, effectively and accurately, I need a good rifle, a quality scope and also the best binoculars I can buy. I'll only find the rifle and the scope effective if I can see the squirrel. Spotting a bushytail lying on the limb at 60 yards will test even Superman's X-ray vision without binoculars and a riflescope. However, from 60 to 80 yards with these optics, I can distinguish the difference between a squirrel's tail swishing or a bird's wings flapping. I also can determine if a bump on a limb is a squirrel's head or a knot on the limb. I particularly enjoy lightweight binoculars that have superior light-gathering qualities, which many optics companies offer today. Using quality optics enables me to bag bushytails at long range.

To produce squirrels as well as test your shooting skills and abilities of balance, coordination and dexterity, boat-hunt bushytails. With a canoe or a flat-bottomed johnboat, you can move swiftly and quietly down a stream, around a lake or through flooded timber and pinpoint the location of squirrels without their ever hearing you approach. Usually if the animals do notice you, you won't spook them. When I first hunted squirrels utilizing water as my mode of transportation, I soon realized I had given up having a stable platform from which to shoot. The canoe moved with the wind and the current. Every time I leaned slightly to the left or right to adjust my aim, the canoe also shifted. Trying to aim while sitting in a canoe made me feel as though I aimed while sitting atop a giant bowl of jello on a table that someone shook.

Turning your body to either side of the canoe and attempting to aim and hold your rifle off-hand to bag a squirrel on the bank makes you the least stable. Instead, sit on the canoe seat with both feet spread wide apart while propping on your knees, aiming and shooting over the front of the craft. Usually you can maintain your stability and shoot accurately when you sit in the stern or the bow and have a range of about 15 degrees to either side of the canoe when boat-hunting bushytails. Your knees and your elbows will provide the most stable platform and braces for the shot. From this position, you can bag your game more often than you can from any other position in the canoe, if you keep the canoe relatively steady.

To make my best shot, I point the bow of the boat toward the squirrel. Then I have 30 degrees of killing range with my .22. I prefer to hunt squirrels from a canoe with a partner. One of you can sit in the stern of the boat and keep the bow of the boat with your partner in it pointed at the squirrel. Then the shooter only must concentrate on the squirrel and the shot rather than boat position, squirrel position and taking the shot. If I hunt alone and see a squirrel, instead of aiming my rifle immediately at the furry critter, I make sure I have my boat angled toward the animal before I ever pick up my rifle. By first positioning the boat properly, I can shoot more accurately, bag more bushytails and not fall out of the canoe as frequently.



Check back each day this week for more about BUSHYTAILS - THE RIFLEMAN'S SPORT

Day 1 - The Right Gear Makes A Difference
Day 2 - Hill Topping & Bunch Hunting
Day 3 - Boat Hunting
Day 4 - Float-Trip Planning
Day 5 - Tree Standing



Entry 287, Day 3