February 12, 2021
When it comes to predator hunting, coyotes, bobcat and fox make up the bulk of predator species we pursue. All three species can be found in virtually every corner of the continental US and while there are regional variances in how we hunt them, there are a few universal calls and tactics that every predator hunter should know. Here are five tips for predator hunting that cannot be overlooked.
1 - Rabbit in Distress Call
If a predator hunter had to choose one call to use for the rest of their life, the vast majority would have a rabbit in distress call. Just like the predators, rabbit and hare occupy virtually every corner of the continental US and are a staple in the diet of every predator we hunt. While a good ki-yi call can work well to attract other coyotes at certain times of the year, it is seasonal. The same goes for bobcat and fox calls that imitate other bobcat and fox. During the breeding season these calls can work wonders but outside of that window they can be very hit or miss. Simply put, these animals need to eat all year long and rabbits are high on the menu for every predator we have. Add in the fact the sound is a rabbit which is already in distress and the temptation of an easy meal is something they at least need to check out.
2 - Playing the Wind
With the exception of bobcat (which are far more reliant on visuals and sound), predators are extremely sensitive to scent. The nose of a fox or coyote is unmatched and they trust that smell explicitly. One whiff of human scent will send them running away with no exceptions so setting up down-wind of any potential game is paramount to success. Coyotes will often try to circle and approach down-wind so putting as much effort into scent control as you would to hunt deer or elk can be the difference in between a successful hunt or just a walk in the woods.
3 - Covering Ground
For the most part, when your predator calling it either works and things happen quickly, or it doesn’t work at all. Once you get setup and begin calling, if you don’t have action within 15-20 minutes then it is time to move. This does not mean you can’t come back to an area in a few hours but don’t spend a morning sitting and calling from the same spot.
Predators can cover miles in just a few hours so if your hunting at night when predators are active, returning to a spot may not be a bad idea but again, never spend too much time in one spot.
4 - Choosing the Right Firearm
While the list of good firearms and ammunition is endless, there are two constants that make an ideal setup for predators. A flat/fast shooting small caliber on a platform you are comfortable making 1-2 inch groups with at 200yds. Some eastern coyotes can tip the scales at 50-55lbs but in general, predators are small targets and trying to make good shots that maintain the value of pelts make those targets even smaller.
5 - Talk to Landowners
While trying to get permission to hunt big game like deer can be discouraging, that is not often the case when it comes to predator hunting. Don’t be surprised to get permission to hunt some prime real estate. Predator hunting in the winter after deer seasons have closed is often welcomed by many landowners who if you asked to hunt deer, you’d be lucky if they let you finish your sentence. Having these permissions is what will allow you to cover ground and find success.
Jesse St. Andre - Avid Hunter & Author