February 03, 2021
Success is far from guaranteed when predator hunting, and every hunt holds just as many challenges as it does promise. To overcome these challenges, crafty predator hunters dig deep into their bags of tricks to turn the odds in their favor.v
Sometimes, the most overlooked or obscure tactic is the one that puts fur in the shed.
Few predator hunters' bag of tricks run quite as deep as Tad Brown's. Brown has spent decades chasing coyotes, bobcats and various other furbearers in every corner of the country, and he’s grown accustomed to meeting predator hunting’s challenges head-on.
The following are six of Brown's most effective predator tips and tactics, which he regularly employs to produce consistent success.
1. Drive Instead of Walk
Over the years, the idea that vehicle traffic imparts undue pressure on local predator populations has been ingrained in the average hunter's psyche. However, Brown feels this notion is of little merit, and that traveling as close as possible to your next set by vehicle can often be among the least invasive means of access.
"I won't walk 10 feet to my spot if I can hop in my truck. Coyotes are so used to hearing vehicles now. You have guys checking cattle, working on plots, putting up hay and driving through farms. It's a common occurrence, and coyotes do not pay it any attention," says Brown.
However, he does warn against throwing all caution to the wind, and stresses the importance of remaining aware of common predator hunting fundamentals. "Just get right in there with them, but use a little common sense. You still have to have the wind to your face, and it still makes sense to hide your vehicle."
2. Hunt Past the Initial Shot
Another tactic Brown feels others overlook is to continue calling even after the hunt's first shots have been fired. While many believe that the sound of gunfire scatters wary coyotes to parts unknown, Brown says thinking along these lines often costs hunters more shot opportunities than they ever realize.
"Guys tend to think that once they've fired a shot, they've scared everything in the country. There is nothing further from the truth. I can think of at least a half-dozen instances where I've killed or shot at a coyote only to have a bobcat or another coyote come into the call," Brown says.
He also finds it helpful to vary his calling in the moments directly following a shot. "A lot of times, after I bust a coyote, I will go to a ki-yi or pup distress," he says. "Doing so seems to have some type of instinctual effect on them, almost like a challenge of sorts. Typically, I'll only do this for a short period of time before changing back over to a prey sound."
3. Hunt Quality Sets Regularly
Many predator hunters believe a location can be rendered useless by overhunting it and will allow a spot to rest for a significant period between hunts, especially after it's produced success. On the contrary, Brown feels that nature fills the void any time predators are removed from an area, and the avoidance of quality setups can cost you fur in the long run.
"Most people discount a location if they've already called it. Coyotes are constantly on the move, and one will almost always take the place of another," Brown says. "It's almost like waiting in line for the bathroom. Once you take a coyote out of an area, others will be waiting for their turn."
Brown has seen the benefits of frequently hunting the same spots within areas of high predator traffic on numerous occasions. "There's a spot on a ranch I hunt that is like my honey hole," he says. "If I'm out there for four or five days, and the wind is right, that will be the first set every morning. I've had hunts where a coyote responds every time I call at that location."
4. Prepare Spots in Advance
For most, predator hunting tends to be a run-and-gun endeavor. Hunters often seat themselves in a promising looking spot and then make decisions on the fly. However, Brown says that one of his most effective strategies is preparing sets in advance.
"There isn't anything worse than setting down in a spot, calling in a coyote and realizing you're not in position to take advantage of it," he says. "I like to go into an area ahead of time and sort out whether I will be able to kill a cat or coyote if they come down a particular road. I treat my predator hunting spots just like my deer or turkey spots. I like to trim shooting lanes and make sure I can see."
Brown feels that this level of preparation not only increases his odds of success, it makes him a more effective hunter in general. "Sizing up a spot before hunting it allows me to make decisions about where and how to set up for a certain wind, as well as how best to call," he says. "Knowing these things in advance and preparing each spot allows me to be a more efficient predator hunter and put more fur on the board."
5. Let Curiosity Be Their Undoing
If you ask any number of predator hunters what they do to finish reluctant coyotes or bobcats, most will be adamant about varying up their calling in a bid to entice a frenzied response. Brown, on the other hand, finds that the best medicine for stubborn predators is often to let their curiosity get the best of them.
"Most guys go to a squeaker bulb or a coaxer sound to finish cats or coyotes. I tend to do nothing. I either stop calling or turn my volume way down. They know what they heard, and shutting everything off is more than a coyote or bobcat can stand," says Brown.
He also emphasizes the importance of staying vigilant, even if a predator seems to lose interest after calling has ceased. "A lot of times a coyote will seem to slip off, and this might make you think he's leaving. However, if you just sit there, he'll often pop back into sight."
6. Scale Setups Based on Location
Many hunters approach eastern predator hunting with a broad-stroke approach, mirroring many of the techniques that are commonly used when hunting in the Midwest and West. However, Brown feels that hunters often limit themselves by not tailoring their efforts to suit the area in which they are hunting.
"When hunting out West, you typically put several miles between sets. This is rarely the case when hunting in more populated areas in the East," he says. "You almost have to treat densely populated areas like a miniature golf course. You aren't driving that ball a couple hundred yards; you're putting it just a few feet. When hunting the East, I typically tone my calling volume down and make more individual sets."
He's also quick to point out that eastern hunters are afforded a significant amount of opportunity based upon the general lay of the land. "If you were to hunt 1,000 acres of land, even if it's more heavily populated, you can make far more sets back East than would be the case when hunting in the West."
Much in the world of predator hunting has remained relatively unchanged over the past several decades. However, avowed predator hunting fanatics, such as Tad Brown, continue to experiment with new and innovative means of finding success. By utilizing such techniques in your own predator hunting, you’re likely to find yourself knee-deep in skinning duties this winter.
Gear that’ll take your game to the next level.
Alps Outdoorz Enforcer
If your predator hunting keeps you on the move, the Alps Outdoorz Enforcer backpack (above) is a one-size-fits-all solution for quick, convenient and comfortable setup. The Enforcer features 800 cubic inches of storage space, a removable kickstand frame and an integrated memory foam cushion. ($169.99; alpsbrands.com)
FoxPro’s new XWAVE e-caller offers hunters a level of versatility that few other calls do. It features two swiveling high-definition speakers, a compatible auxiliary jack for decoy integration and 100 pre-loaded sounds with the capacity for an additional 1,000 sounds. The XWAVE is Bluetooth-enabled, allowing hunters full control from their mobile devices. ($699.95; gofoxpro.com)
Primos Double Bull Stakeout Blind
The Double Bull Stakeout Blind with SurroundView ensures that you are never left scrambling for a hideaway when gunning for predators. This two-wall blind features translucent panels that allow you to see out without predators seeing in. The Stakeout Blind is also extremely portable, weighing only 4 1/2 pounds, and deploys in seconds. ($99.99; primos.com)
Vortex Fury HD 5000
This range-finding binocular makes it possible to glass for coyotes while simultaneously gauging their distance. While looking through these 10X42 optics, a hunter can center a small crosshair and take distance measurements out to 5,000 yards. This state-of-the-art bino features a “scan” mode, which allows for real-time distance measurement when tracking moving predators. ($1,599.99; vortexoptics.com)