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Feature Story

Feature Story

Save the Fawns Time to Predator Hunt

While predators are very active at night, early and late parts of the day, don’t be discouraged to hunt all day long. For all day hunting, I like the temperature to be 40 degrees or less for at least a week. All animals struggle much more in cold weather to find food. Predators are no different. Animal distress calls become very effective as temperatures drop and stay low. Snow makes it even better. Second, minimal wind is key, preferably no more than 10-15mph. Predators can hear your calling much better. Not to mention, brutal winds in cold conditions make it hard to hunt long. Third, my experience has shown that full cloud cover makes predator hunting more productive. Clear, sunny conditions can be great too, but the number of predators I’ve killed on cloudy days far exceeds those I’ve killed on sunny ones.

The Set-up: Scouting is key to locating where

coyotes and other predators frequent. Trail cameras and observation are the easiest solution. Make a mental note whenever you find coyote scat and tracks. When I bow hunt in the fall, I keep track of when and where all my predator sightings occurred. If you don’t have previous history to rely on, look for habitat such as large grass or CRP fields. Coyotes and bobcats love hunting mice through the grass. Any area, like a pond dam, that creates a pinch point for wildlife movement is ideal. Sitting on the edge of heavy timber with thick undergrowth is one of my favorites as well.

B

oys and girls, it’s time to save the fawns. Coyotes and bobcats are responsible for the disappearance of huge portions of fawns every summer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like my future big bucks being taken out so easily. The solution to the problem is simple. It’s time to go predator hunting. Here are a few tips and tricks to help make your predator hunting a success.

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CONSERVATION FEDERATION

Favorite Predator Hunting Conditions: Coyote

peak breeding season is January through March. During this time, they are very responsive to coyote vocalizations and because of the cold weather, are equally responsive to animal distress calls. Early summer can be good with recently born coyote pups creating demand on their parents. Both animal distress calls and pup distress calls are effective at that time.

When I make a sit, I look for spots where I can see and shoot a couple hundred yards. I want thick cover to break up my silhouette. A tree, fence post, or large bush on a hill work nicely. Most importantly, I sit downwind of where I anticipate the coyotes will appear. Just be ready to adjust when they do something completely unexpected. A must have is a motorized decoy. My favorite is the Mojo Critter. Decoys are important because they provide a visual for predators to focus on. Their distraction gives you a better opportunity for a shot. Be sure to place your electronic call and motorized decoy at least 50 yards upwind of you. Predators need to see it from multiple directions. If you’re targeting bobcats, the decoy is a must, as cats are hesitant to approach unless they see decoy movement.

Calling Strategy: The most important rule I follow

when calling predators is hunting in low pressured areas. Coyotes and bobcats become call shy very quickly. To combat this, I knock on doors around my land to gain more access so I’m not hunting the same spots all the time. If you don’t have the luxury of more land access, be careful to limit your hunting to the most ideal wind and weather conditions. Matching your call to the area you hunt is vital. In Missouri, mice, voles, and cottontails are common. I typically start with a quiet call like a mouse distress, and gradually move to louder, more distressed sounding calls, like a dying cottontail. If a coyote or bobcat hangs up out of range, lower the call volume and it could draw them closer trying to pinpoint the sound. Keep in mind, bobcats typically take longer to approach your set-up, so be ready to sit 45 minutes or more. No matter what calls I’ve used, I always end every set up with a coyote pup distress call. It seems to work the magic when all else fails. You’ll know you are making the right sound selections when you have birds of prey, like hawks, flying over and landing in nearby trees to survey the area. If you feel like your calling is getting repetitive, go online and purchase more aftermarket sounds. Most makers of electronic calls provide additional calls for purchase that weren’t pre-loaded on your device. Sometimes all it takes is a little different sound to get a coyote or bobcat charging in. Some people set their electronic call and decoy up so the decoy only moves while the call is playing. That is fine, but it’s much better to have your decoy moving during your entire set-up. Predators often times come in several minutes after you have finished a calling sequence. When no sound is playing, they need to see the movement of your decoy to capture their attention and continue bringing them in, while also keeping their attention off of you. Time to go save the fawns. Tyler Mahoney Predator hunter, Joey Purpura of Midwest Land Group, hoists a coyote on a late evening hunt in January. (Photo: Tyler Mahoney)

JANUARY - 2018

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