February 15, 2011
Your deer-hunting skills will take you a long way towards predator-hunting success.
Deer hunters are happy to know that their snorts, grunts, wheezes and bleats are effective coyote calls. Author Les Johnson shows off a number of songdogs that came to distress calls. Photo courtesy of Les Johnson.
Millions of hunters take to the woods each year in pursuit deer. Once the seasons close, humans are scarce in the woods and plains. But consider this: As deer and turkey numbers have reached a plateau of high populations all across the country, the populations of predators also have grown steadily.
Big-game hunters should keep their skills sharp this time of year by outsmarting foxes, coyotes and bobcats.
To successfully hunt big-game animals, you need some luck and a lot of skill. Hunters who put the most time into preparation and learning about that animal tend to come out more successful than the average weekend warrior. Success in the predator-hunting realm is a lot like that.
And if you use the knowledge that you have learned from being in the outdoors and hunting other animals, you'll have the fundamentals for predator hunting in the bag.
If you are a deer hunter, you're way ahead of the game. Here are some of the assets you might already have, and how predator-hunters use them.
You Keep Noise To A Minimum
Most big-game animals have a very good sense of hearing. Predators are the same. Predators are very much aware of their surroundings and pay close attention to sounds.
It's very important that whenever you set out to hunt predators you pay attention to how much noise you are making while trying to hunt them.
- Whenever driving your vehicle to the likely spot, park it a little farther away and walk.
- Do not slam the vehicle doors, but lightly push them shut.
- If you have a hunting partner and must talk, whisper.
- Whenever closing the actions on your guns, or putting shells in them, be very quiet. The sound of a shotgun action slamming shut can be heard a long ways away on a cold, crisp, still morning. If you have a semi-auto and you have to let the bolt slam shut, mask it with a call.
- While walking in to your spot, stop every now and then and listen to your surroundings. If an animal does hear you walking and then stopping, he is much more apt to forget about you.
You Pick The Right Spot
Whenever you're hunting deer, turkeys, elk, you always try to put yourself at the advantage of seeing the animal before it has a chance to spot you or smell you. Predator hunting is no different. Use the terrain features of the land to benefit you in your setup.
- If you have the opportunity, set up from a higher vantage point. I particularly like to set up on the side of a hill if I have the opportunity so that I am a little higher for the chance at spotting an approaching predator quicker. It also lets my sound carry out over the top of the lower land. And if I can get more distance out of my calling, a predator might hear my sounds and respond from farther away.
- If you have no hills or large open areas where you hunt, try to find cutlines, marshes and small fields. These features are places where you can pull a predator to the edge and spot him more easily.
- Several companies produce scent elimination products. I have had success with Wildlife Research Center's Scent Killer. I use it if I know my downwind scent is going to be a problem in a particular spot where I want to call from.
CALL OF THE WILD
Your Distress Is Usually The Best
If I had a penny every time someone told me that they were calling turkeys and a coyote came out of nowhere...
Any distress call, even a lonesome turkey hen yelp with a decoy, can be an excellent choice when you are calling in a predator.
- Predators are opportunistic creatures. Keep the wind in your face. Approach your calling spot quietly. Set up in a spot where you have the advantage. Use a distress call. Do these things and you've got a good plan in place.
- Hunters are familiar with the many whitetail calls that produce snorts, grunts, wheezes and bleats. These also can call in predators -- especially the bleats. A bleat is a deer that might be in distress. A predator will always want to come and investigate that sound.
Remember that predators need to eat to survive. That usually means they have to catch and kill their prey. So think about it like this: If you were a hungry predator and you kept hearing a deer bleating off in the distance, wouldn't you finally want to go see what was going on?
There are many ways you can use your big-game hunting skills to successfully hunt predators. Good luck in all your predator hunting.