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How to Hunt Small-Parcel Predators

Hunting pressured coyotes, bobcats and foxes on small pieces of land calls for a change in tactics.

How to Hunt Small-Parcel Predators

On small parcels, prioritize shot placement and use enough gun to drop your target in its tracks. Otherwise, it could escape off-property. (Nick Trehearne Photography)

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Hunting bobcats, coyotes and other predators on large properties can be hard enough. Hunting them on small tracts is downright difficult. However, it is certainly possible, assuming you have a solid playbook.

Clay Belding of Banded and Byron South of Convergent Hunting are both coyote hunting experts, and each has loads of wisdom on how to kill more coyotes, even on smaller properties. If you’re limited to hunting predators on petite parcels, heed some of their advice to boost your odds on song dogs and other toothy critters.

BE PREPARED

For starters, know as much about predator activity on the property you’re hunting as possible. It might sound silly, but cellular cameras are ideal for predators on small tracts of land. They help you take a pre-season inventory, monitor out-of-the-way spots and study predator patterns and habits. Post trail cameras over prey scents or even a piece of scrap meat to get the needed info. Understand that coyotes move through areas on cyclical patterns, though, so it might be a few days before they pass through again.

You also want to bring the right firearm on your sits to ensure a successful hunt. On small properties especially, it’s important to cleanly kill your prey. If you don’t, it could escape onto a neighboring property that you can’t access.

Choosing the right caliber helps. Popular options include the .17 HMR, .22 LR, .22 Long, .22 Magnum, .223 Rem., .243 Win., .22-250 Rem., .25-06 Rem. or even a heavy 12-gauge load. Of course, while true wherever you hunt, it’s especially important to know what’s beyond your target on smaller properties, particularly when using a rifle.

When hunting coyotes, also realize that different scenarios call for different firearms. Consider carrying multiple weapons to be ready for whatever you might face in the field. Belding suggests bringing a shotgun and a rifle on every stand.

“You never know how coyotes might react,” he says. “You need a shotgun if they come rushing in but a rifle for long shots. So, you need to pattern your shotgun and practice running shots, because they’ll be running 20 to 30 miles per hour.”

MINIMIZE YOUR IMPACT

As with most hunting, it’s hard to kill something that is aware of your presence. Remaining completely undetected is crucial, and this is especially true with predators on smaller properties. South recommends parking your vehicle where coyotes can’t see it or hear it.




Also, consider moving slower during your hunt when transitioning between different stands. Walk slowly, take pauses and don’t get in a rush. You might even catch a coyote moving before it sees you.

When set up and calling, be as motionless as possible. Oftentimes, predators move in and hang up on the edge of cover. Then, they sit and watch your position from just out of sight. If you move, they’ll pick you off for sure.

WATCH THE WIND

Most coyotes circle downwind of any calling they hear. That’s what makes hunting with an e-caller (with speakers positioned at a distance) and a crosswind so effective. If this isn’t possible, try to set up with the wind blowing up a bluff or across a river or some other barrier. If all else fails, set up with the wind blowing out into an open field. That way, if a coyote tries to wind you, it must enter the open before doing so. What you don’t want is your wind blowing into cover where the target can get downwind without presenting a shot opportunity.

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South also recommends keeping the wind in your face when on the move, as coyotes have exceptional noses. This should be standard practice even when walking to your first stand.

Wind will almost always be a factor, especially in more open country. Belding says that many hunters won’t call on excessively windy days, but he feels calling can still be productive up until wind speeds reach about 30 mph. However, he adds that coyotes are especially prone to coming in from downwind on days with high winds. He advocates keeping your downwind side open to ensure you have a shooting window, but it’s especially good advice on windy days. In stronger winds, he’ll more carefully monitor wind direction and often set up a little closer to where he thinks coyotes are lounging to ensure they can hear his calls.

PICK A GOOD STAND

South suggests selecting a vantage point from which you can see a coyote when it responds to your call. He likes getting up high on a hill or somewhere else where he can see the landscape around him. The last thing you want, he says, is a coyote sneaking within a few yards of your position without you even realizing it’s there.

Having something behind you to break up your outline, he adds, is also important. This could be rocks, brush or a tree. You want something that lets your profile blend into the environment.

Belding stresses the importance of having good camo, and particularly trusts the new Realtree MAX-1 XT pattern. He similarly harps on the importance of minimizing your shape and form.

“Tuck back into somewhere you aren’t silhouetted,” he says. “[Coyotes] know where the sound is coming from. Don’t move. Scan with your eyes, then move your head. Don’t have a bobble head when looking around, or they’ll see you long before you see them.”

Pick a spot with a good view of the surrounding environment, take as long as you need to get comfortable on stand, then minimize your movement while calling and watching. However, don’t feel married to a particular stand site, especially on small properties. A coyote that hears a rabbit dying under the same tree five days in a row will know something isn’t quite right. Try new spots after hunting one for a bit, or at least alter your position, even if just slightly.

SWEETEN THE POT

When you’ve settled on a good spot to sit, consider upping your odds with some scents and a decoy. Some buffer scents placed on each side of your downwind scent cone can help stop a predator and grant you easy shot opportunities before it catches wind of you. Also, while you don’t need to place scent directly on you, it doesn’t hurt to hang up some smelly stuff around your setup. Good options include fox urine, raccoon pee and other aromas. These can help mask your position, especially if predators circle in close.

Adding a decoy can dramatically increase your opportunities. Savvy bobcats, coyotes and foxes often won’t commit if they can’t see a visual indicator that corresponds to the sounds they hear. Because of this, it’s important to display relevant decoys that match the predator and prey sounds that you’re using.

BE PATIENT

Finally, give each stand at least 20 to 30 minutes to produce. Most times, coyotes will respond within the first 5 minutes, but that isn’t always the case. Giving each stand time to work is key, especially on smaller properties where you might not have as many spots to hunt.

If you choose to adopt a more mobile approach, you can set up a little more frequently in parts of the Midwest with fewer wide-open spaces. Rolling hills, dense cover and other factors prevent sounds—and calls—from traveling quite as far as they do in prairie landscapes. That’s something to consider when choosing stand locations.

One of the most important aspects to successfully hunting coyotes, especially on small tracts of land, is patience. It isn’t easy and requires a lot of skill and perseverance. Apply these tips to your hunting this winter, and everything should eventually come together.

PREDATOR PICKS

Predator hunters love their toys, and rightfully so. The right tools can make all the difference for coyotes, bobcats and other predators. Here are some proven options to consider.

Ruger Precision Rimfire

Josh Honeycutt, Ruger Precision Rimfire
Ruger Precision Rimfire

The Ruger Precision Rimfire ($619; ruger.com) is an excellent little rifle available in several variations in .17 HMR, .22 LR and .22 WMR. It holds between nine and 15 rounds depending on the model, and features the Quick-Fit Precision Rimfire adjustable stock and an anodized aluminum free-floating handguard.

Silencer Central Banish 22

Josh Honeycutt, Silencer Central Banish 22
Silencer Central Banish 22

Suppressors can reduce a gun’s recoil and report, meaning less noise to spook game and more accurate shooting and faster follow-up shots. Silencer Central’s Banish 22 ($499; silencercentral.com) attaches via a threaded barrel and features full titanium construction. It’s easily serviced for cleaning and is the brand’s quietest rimfire suppressor.

Coyote Light CL1 Predator Light

Josh Honeycutt, Coyote Light CL1 Predator Light
Coyote Light CL1 Predator Light

The CL1 ($329.99; coyotelight.com) is a compact and lightweight light. The solid-state LED bulb runs up to 32 hours on 25-percent brightness. It can illuminate a predators’ eyes out to 800 yards and light up a ’yote for full-body identification out to 500 yards (with good optics).

CCI Segmented Hollow Point 40-Grain .22 LR

Josh Honeycutt, CCI Segmented Hollow Point 40-Grain .22 LR
CCI Segmented Hollow Point 40-Grain .22 LR

CCI’s varmint-specific 40-grain Segmented Hollow Point .22 LR ($10.99; cci-ammunition.com) storms out of the gate at 1,050 fps. It has impressive terminal effect, with the bullet breaking into three parts on impact and each segment creating its own wound channel.

Johnny Stewart Executioner Electronic Game Caller

Josh Honeycutt, Johnny Stewart Executioner Electronic Game Caller
Johnny Stewart Executioner Electronic Game Caller

This compact, easy-to-use call ($149.99; hunterspec.com) is made to help you slay predators. It comes with a great remote that features a 2.4-inch color screen and a 3.5-inch horn speaker that reaches 120 dB. The speaker has a sequential call feature so you can program calls to play in order and a carabiner for hanging. The base is powered by eight AA batteries while the remote runs on four AAs.

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