Most people still-hunt for the these bushytails, but pursuing them from a boat is great way bag your limit.
Drifting quietly downstream in a canoe or johnboat in autumn is a magical experience — and also one of the most productive ways I know to hunt squirrels. You’ll likely see ducks, deer, herons, maybe a mink, bear, or turkey along shore. Competition from other hunters will be largely avoided. And the stark beauty of rivers in fall lined with oaks, hickories, ash, and sycamores is worth the trip in itself. Game is almost always plentiful. A friend and I once floated a four-mile stretch of the Shenandoah River in Virginia and bagged six squirrels between us in an hour.
Then we switched to the abundant smallmouths and had a blast catching them. Before the trip was over, we’d counted 20 more squirrels in the trees along shore. The first step is to find out where a river flows through public land or property where you can obtain permission to hunt. Then select a four to eight mile section with no dangerous rapids or dams to carry the boat around and good put in and take-out points for vehicle access. Either a canoe or johnboat will work. I prefer to paint the craft flat gray or drab green and camouflage it with some brush on the bow. Bring paddles, life preservers and a change of clothes and emergency survival kit in a waterproof bag.
I also throw in a landing net. Some squirrels float, others sink. Be ready for both. If the stream is small, you can cover both sides. On larger rivers, concentrate on the side with the most hardwoods or where you see the most game. As with still-hunting, make sure there are no houses or people behind where you are shooting. Whether you choose still-hunting or float a section of river, it’s hard to think of a better way to spend a fall or winter day that chasing one of our country’s most popular game animals, the humble squirrel.