predator hunting tips
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1. WEAPON - This is really a matter of personal choice and availability. Your weapon depends upon the type of terrain you are hunting and the distances you "plan" on shooting. Pelt damage is another factor to consider when choosing a caliber.
Many hunters will use center fire rifles while others utilize shotguns. I personally use a variety of center fire rifles, ranging from a Rem 700 in .222 to a Winchester 22-250.

2. CALLS - A wide variety of calls are available to today's predator hunter. Mouth blown rabbit distress calls have probably accounted for more dead coyotes and fox than all other calls. Hunters in cold climates must take extra precaution when slecting and using mouth calls. Closed reed calls tend to "freeze up" in sub freezing temperatures. After a few minutes of use, they lose their sound and are aggrevating to use. One way to prevent this is to store your call inside of your clothing. It is probably a better choice to purchase and get familiar with an open reed style call. These calls will not "freeze up" as readily as the cloed reed models. No matter which type of call you use, it is always a good idea to secure them on a lanyard. Lanyards will keep your calls secure and organized. The last thing you want to do is fumble around searching for your call when a critter is near.

Many excellent electronic calls are on the market as well. These are nice in that they produce a true and accurate sound which may assist beginning hunters. Which brand and model you choose is a matter of personal choice. Let me say that I prefer a digital call with no moving parts that are going to cause problems. I strongly recommend the Foxpro Digital call.

3. CAMO - With the fox and coyote keen senses, it is important to conceal your self with your hunting environment. You must attempt to blend in with your surroundings, so be sure to pay attention to this detail. Be sure to cover face and hands (especially if you tend to move these often while hunting)

4. WHEN TO CALL - Fox and coyote will tend to feed under the cover of low light. In fact, studies show that predators move most between the hours of 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM. When possible, they will feed at night as this is when their prey species are often mobile. Hunters will see these canines during early morning and pre-dawn hours, hence it is these times that will generate success while calling. In winter months, or during times after a storm, the fox and coyote will be more willing to move about during the day. If your state allows, night time hunting can offer tremendous action.

5. WHERE TO CALL - Red fox tend to be found around wooded farm lots. The gray fox prefers actual woods. Coyotes are everywhere and can be hunted on farms, gravel pits, and woods alike.
I like to set up so that I have a great field of vision so that I can see the quarry from a distance.


First, let's define night as anytime after the sun has gone down and you are now surrounded by darkness. We have called predators with success between the hours of 5:00 PM and 4:00 AM. We cannot truly identify a magic hour, although 12:30 AM has more than it's share of action. Night time hunting is more difficult than daylight hunts for a few reasons...

1.) The hunter's vision is limited and the critters can not be as easily spotted as they approach.

2.) The gear necessary for night hunting is often cumbersome and it is sometimes awkward to carry afield.

3.) The actual shot is more difficult because you can not see the entire target. Many times, you are shooting at the eyes only.

On the other hand, there are some definite advantages of night hunting...

1.) You are hunting during the natural hunting/prowling time of predators.

2.) Hunting pressure is normally low at this time.

3.) Winds are often lower in the night.

4.) On a nice weather night, it's simply a great time to be afield.

If you do not mind missing some sleep, your favorite TV show, and some time with your wife, night hunting may be worth your while!

Here are some of the strategies we employ for success in the dark...

1.) Pick a good night

Low wind is a must. If the wind is 15 MPH or more, you may want to stay at home. Snow cover is fantastic and will greatly aid in spotting critters as they come in. What about the moon? Some guys do not like a full, bright moon. I say... Bring it on! On a clear night with snow cover, you can see the critters without a light. So long as your set up conceals you, you can still make the shot.

2.) Set Up

I try to set up where I can see the critters coming in from as far as possible. This will allow me to make any neccessary adjustments with my weapon and lights. I also like to set up on a high spot in the terrain. Again, this gives me a good vantage point to seal the deal. Overlooking a large field that is backed up by a swamp or woods is often ideal. Wind is critical and must be paid attention to. The predators will almost always circle around you to identify the source of the commotion. Position yourself where you can take a downwind shot. This is imperative! If you have a buddy with you, sit looking in opposite directions. The key here is to sit close enough so that you can communicate with each other. NOTE: Be sure to have a plan for shooting since you are going to be close to each other. Safety must come first!

3.)Use of The Lights

It will be to your great advantage to use spot lights where permissable by law. Actually, without the use of lights, night hunting would be much less affective and I would save my efforts for daylight. For spotting game, We use hand held 1 million power cordless rechargable spotlights. I bring 3 lights with me in the truck and use the re-charge cord while driving from location to location. When taking a shot, I rely upon my scope mounted 250 yard light that operates with a 6 volt battery. Be sure that your light has a red lens as this will not alarm predators. Additionally, it may be helpful to use some duct tape on lens edging for two resaons...1.) Helps to prevent lens from falling off and 2.) Eliminates sideways glare while operating your light.

Make sure your batteries are fully charged and be sure to have extra batteries or spotlights for a nights hunt. Low temperatures cause the battery life to be reduced so if you are planning a long night of hynting, you must have at least 3 of 4 lights with you.

4.)Sequence Of A Night Hunt

Here is a typical night time hunt scenario...

- Arrive at location, park a fair distance away from call site. Do not slam car/truck door.

- Give area/field a quick scan with spotlight to check for red eyes ( deer eyes will glow a greenish yellow ). Sometimes fox/coyotes will be fields already and you need to get ready for a quick shot.

- Select your set up and prepare your gear. If using an electronic caller do not place it far from you (remote). The reason for this is because you want to see the eyes as they approach you. If they are not looking at you (the sound source) you may not detect them with the light. If you are hunting with a partner, you should have "lightman" behind shooter or side by side so that you both see the eyes.

- Wait a minute or two, some callers wait up to 15 minutes, for "things to calm down"

- Start calling with call of your choice. As the sound emits, scan the area with your light. Aim the spotlight so that the bottom of the light's halo strikes your intended area. Sometimes, the direct intensity of the beam will scare off the predators. I've seen them scare off and I've seen them keep running in full steam. Raising the beam seems like a safe choice.

- Scan the field a few times in case a critter has come in while you were scanning in a different direction.

- When the red glow of eyes appear, keep light on the eyes (bottom halo) and monitor behavior of predator. If he keeps approaching, all is good. Brace yourself for the shot. If he stops, you have some choices to make. Are you comfortable shooting at the present distance? If so, aim at eyes and pull trigger. If he stops, and you are not calling, call again lightly to entice him. If the predator moves in a direction as if to "wind" you, you need to shoot at first opportunity or pass up on shot all together and try to call him another day/night.

- We normally stay 20-40 minutes or so at each night callilng spot. The bottom line is this... you never know if a fox/coyote is in the immediate area that you are calling. If he is within hearing distance, he should investigate your calling and be seen in the lights. If no predators are present, they may pass through during the course of the night. The question is... How long are you willing to sit in one spot and wait? That is a matter or personal preference.


Here are some little points to consider that may pay off in big dividends...

1.) Watch the Wind: We are not only talking about your set up, but as you approach your stand position. Many predators catch human scent as hunters walk to a set up. Do not walk into a location when your scent is
going to be beating you there.

2.) Crunchy snow: This tip is related to #1. Predators have fantastic hearing. If the snow is noisy underfoot, you will spook game out of the area. For nighttime hunts, make short calling set ups as soon as possible without having to walk far distances. Hunters can then progress into the hunting area knowing that any close vicinity predators have fair opportunity to respond with minimal spooking.

3.) Know your distances: Misjudging distance is a major contributor to missed shots. If you have access to land for night hunting, be sure that you use a rangefinder in the daylight on landmarks such as hedgerows,
trees, and farm equipment. By doing so, you will have some idea of distance when a predator shows up in the darkness of night.

4.) Anticipate the shot: This is not an exact science, but if you can have your gun pointed in the right direction when a predator appears, you will have a major advantage. In the dark, hunters can move to adjust a shot slightly more than during the light. If the predator howls or barks in the distance, you can anticipate his approach better as well. By having your weapon ready, you can concentrate on the shot and not on getting into position without being detected.

5.) Watch the backside: It is believed that for every 1 predator spotted by hunters, 5 more respond without being seen. When hunting with a partner, have one hunter sit facing the opposite direction. It is this hunter who may intercept the predators as they approach the backside of a set up in attempt to wind the situation.

6.) Is your light ready?: Proper spotlight care is vital to its use afield. If you simply snap on a red lens and start hunting, you may be in for trouble. Many times the red lens will not for a secure fit around the light and a white light will leak out. This is enough to scare off predators in many situations. In order to prevent this, take camouflage tape and seal off the area around the lens. Another tip is to place a tube made out of cardboard or pvc around the light. The tube will really direct the light beam and avoid the occurrence of lighting up objects close to the hunter.

7.) A battery of batteries: We mentioned previously that the equipment
involved in night hunting is often cumbersome to carry. Knowing that a single spotlight will not carry enough charge to get you through a night,
the hunter must have a backup plan. One idea is to purchase multiple lights. I did this and still have 3 or 4 at my disposal. However, it gets to be a pain to carry them around and have them in your backpack and even in your vehicle. A more efficient idea is to purchase spare 6 volt batteries and have them with you. Although they have some weight, they are far less bulky.

8.) Hidden Landscapes: The last thing you want to have happen is to call in a coyote only to loose sight of him as he approaches. This usually happens when hunters set up in new areas and do not realize that the terrain has dips or rises in it that will hinder your vision at the moment of truth. It is often beneficial to set up high in the landscape so that you are looking down on the area you are calling.

9.) Proper use of spotlight: The manner is which you use your light may have direct consequence on your hunting success. Number one, scan the
area quickly. Keep the beam moving to catch any eyes of incoming critters. If eyes are detected, keep the light on! Switching the light on and off may alarm or spook the predator. Direct the beam so that the bottom edge of the beam (known as the halo) is on the eyes. Many times a predator will get spooked if the intensity of the main beam is focused directly at the eyes. It is best to play it safe and only highlight the glowing eyes by using the halo to your advantage.

10.) After the shot: The work is not complete after the trigger has been pulled.
Hopefully, you will hear the telltale “whump” of a hit. Even so, keep calling and scanning the area for other predators as it is not uncommon to have them come in as pairs. Make a mental note of where you shot, so that you will have an easier time of finding the downed critter. Better yet, have a partner keep a light on the critter as you go to retrieve it.



Here is a nice calling set-up that regularily produces predators. The fox typically respond to calls by coming in from woods on right side of pic and travelling to the "oasis" seen in center. I sit about 75 yards away which offers me a nice shot.

Here is a newly acquired hunting spot. I call it the "Valley of the howls" because when I was there a brush wolf was in a howling battle with a pack of coyotes. My FoxPro caller emitting cottontail distress brought in the coyote now known as "Mr. Mange", who can be seen in our photo gallery.

Gravel pits are always nice because I feel as if I'm in a western desert when I 'm really in New York. This location provides me with 360 degrees of vision. I harvested the coyote that is featured on the main page of our website right here.


Once you are familiar with coyote calling, you may want to try these tips to increase your success...

1. THE CHANGE-UP SQUEEK - John Murphy from Macedon, NY introduced me to this technique. When a predator "holds up" and no longer approaches, but his eyes can be seen, turn off the digital call and go directly to a mouse squeeker. Far more often than not, they will come in further to investigate the sound

2. THE DINNER PARTY CALL - This sequence has accounted for numerous coyotes both in the West and the Eastern USA.

I start with a medium volume rabbit distress sequence. After approximately 1/2 minute, I give a loud, long lone coyote howl (I like the Sceery call for this). The cottontail rabbit distress call sequence again rings out. i then sit back and wait. If nothing answers or is seen, I repeat the entire sequence.

3. USE A DECOY - I like to use a rabbit skin and place it 20 or so yards ahead of my set up position. Elevate the skin so that it can be more easily seen and so that I moves with any breeze that may be present. Another effective decoy is a natural colored stuffed toy rabbit(like a child would have).

4. PULL AN ALL NIGHTER - if your state allows, do it at night! The coyotes are less wary at night. When the night is "perfect", We hunt all night. what is a perfect night? Full Moon, starry sky, snow cover, & no wind. When this happens... forget everything and head for the fields! Here in New York State, We get 2-3 full moons during our hunting season. Lousy weather usually means no perfect nights, so seize the moment and try it! Go with a friend because it can be sort of eery out there alone at night.

5. TAG TEAM - hunting is usually more fun when you share it with someone and coyote calling is no exception. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Be sure to sit close enough so that you can whisper vital information (or jokes). Exercise safety when shooting. Many hunters will sit "back to back" and this is a useful technique.

6. ROTATE LOCATIONS - Give each of your hunting locations a break, just as you would for deer hunting. Pay attention to wind directions and choose farms that be favorable for the weather conditions. Don't overcall a farm just because you have had success there.

7. POSITION YOURSELF SO YOU CAN SHOOT - This is probably the MOST IMPORTANT tip. When selecting a set up position, make sure you can see the incoming animal and that you can actually shoot from your position! Don't conceal yourself so much that you can't see the coyote you just called in.


Play the Wind:

Most times, the coyote will attempt to circle around the sound source in effort of smelling the dying critter. This is his way to verify the safeness of the situation. Be sure to prepare your set up with this in mind. It is imperative to position yourself so that you will have a downwind shot. Setting up in a cross-wind situation is probably the best case scenario. Be reminded that the window of opportunity may be short in this scenario. If the coyote gets too downwind of the hunter, he will not stick around long.

Go Remote:

One of the best investments the predator hunter can make is a remote controlled call. The remotely placed call does two things extremely well. First, since the coyote will be looking to the sound source, the hunter will be less likely to spotted. Secondly, by placing the remote at a desired location, the hunter can “set the stage” for how the hunt can play out. This is related to the above mentioned wind factor. The hunter can place the call so that the approaching coyote will circle to a position that is advantageous for a shot.

Use a Decoy:

Another beneficial tool for completing a hunt is the use of a decoy. Decoys, when used in conjunction with a sound source, automatically appeal to two of the coyote’s keen senses… seeing and hearing. It seems obvious that by eliciting more of the coyote’s senses, the hunter can have an advantage in the hunt. Just like the remote callers, decoys serve 2 basic purposes. First, the decoy can convince the coyote that what he is hearing is real and needs to be investigated further. This is especially true when drawing coyotes across an open field, when he may otherwise hold up and not commit to the call. Secondly, the decoy will draw and hold the coyote’s attention away from the hunter so that the hunter may prepare for the shot. This is especially helpful when the approaching coyote appears suddenly and the hunter must make adjustments in his body position or change position of his rifle to make a successful shot.

Work the Coyote:

Watching an approaching coyote can tell the hunter a lot about the mood of the coyote. If he is coming in at a run, all is good. If the call is playing, let it continue. If the call is not on at that moment, leave it off and monitor the coyote’s behavior. If he is looking over his shoulder, he is probably coming in with others. If he stops, the hunter can often lure him in with lip squeaks. If the coyote sits and holds up, or worse yet, barks , he knows something is wrong and the hunter must take the shot if possible.

Bark at Him:

This is my all time favorite coyote hunting tip! Coyotes respond differently as they come to the call. Sometimes, they run in, while other times, they will nearly crawl to the call. One thing remains the same… it is awfully hard to hit a moving coyote. In the perfect situation, the coyote should be standing still for a quality shot opportunity. The good news is that the hunter can have a say in the matter. Simply “barking” with your mouth will stop the coyote in his tracks. The bark should be loud and can even work on coyotes that have been shot at and missed with the first shot. Many hunters are not comfortable using that bark for fear of giving away his position.

Keep Calling:

Let’s suppose that a coyote has committed and the hunter has made a successful shot. It is now time to bear down and continue to call. Resist the urge to celebrate the moment of glory and attempt to call in any other coyotes that may be in the vicinity. Coyotes are often in the company of others and the show does not have to end with “only” one coyote down. This especially true in early fall calling ventures when family units have not yet dispersed. Proven calling choices include the original distress sound or even puppy whines and squeals.

There are few experiences in the hunting world that can match the excitement of seeing a coyote charge in to the call. It is this excitement that allows many a coyote to live to see another day. Hunters, by controlling their emotions, and by using some of the techniques mentioned above can achieve the results they desire.

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