Archive for the ‘Predator Hunting’ Tag

VARMINT HUNTING – AN OFF-SEASON CHALLENGE   Leave a comment

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A piercing sound breaks the early down silence.  It continues until you think it will never end.  It is the sound of a rabbit in distress that goes on and on.  Actually, the sound emanates from an electronic game caller.  The purpose is to attract a hungry coyote, raccoon or fox.

Suddenly from across the field a coyote appears with his nose to the ground.  He lopes along in search of the easy meal promised by the sound of the call.  He just appears on the edge of the brush and silently moves along it toward the sound.

These electronic calling machines lure hungry predators into more open areas and close proximity to hunters.

There are two kinds of calls, electronic and mechanical.  The mechanical call requires a bit of wind power supplied by the hunter.  The electronic caller is easier on the hunter by producing an electronic reproduction of recorded sounds.

Electronic calls have powerful output, a longer duration of play, more accurate sound, a wider variety, can be operated hands free and usually use distress calls to attract the predator.  An advantage to mechanical calls includes that they are lighter weight, compact, inexpensive, have a more variable pitch and offer great personal satisfaction form their successful use.

Both types of calls also have disadvantages.  The electronic call is a more expensive investment, has more weight to handle in the field, is larger and requires maintenance as well as the re-charging of batteries.

Mechanical calls can have too much or too little volume according to the skills of the user.  The require movement of the caller which can call attention to his location.  They take some practice and in cold weather can freeze up due to saliva accumulation.

A key to varmint hunting is to set up in a good habitat situation.  It might be brush near a creek.  Many animals use waterways as highways to their feeding areas from a den or bedding area.  The caller sets up downwind of the direction from which he expects the prey might come.  Hunters must be ever mindful of his concealment until it is too late for the predator.

An ability to remain motionless is vital.  Therefore, good optics and warm clothing are a must.  In cold weather without warm clothing the hunter can be miserable.  The good optics enables the hunter to see the quarry long before would otherwise be the case.

Unlike calls for waterfowl, turkey and deer, the predator call is not a type of communication between members of the same species.  The imitate food species in distress.  Most common is the sound of a rabbit in trouble.  The shrill, high pitched call can be ear-splitting.  As the predator approaches the sound he will become more keenly wary of his surroundings.

One way of coaxing predators the last few yards is to implement “squeaker” or coaxing calls.  Usually those are ones that make a squeak of a mouse, softer sound.

Normally a nocturnal animal, coyotes can be lured into range in the early morning or late evening.  On cloudy days, the sound of a call can stir hunger pangs in the predator at most any time of the day.

Land owners welcome coyote hunters as a way of controlling the predation of their household pets and farm animal such as chickens.  Hunting predators benefits ground dwelling wild birds and upland game by eliminating a major source of predation on their numbers.

By learning the daily habits of the quarry, studying vocalizations that attract them and exercising some practice, the hunter can find himself in possession of a fine trophy in the off season.

BEST WAY TO FOOL COYOTES IS WITH SCENT CONTROL   1 comment

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One of the best and least used tools in hunting coyotes is scent.  Volumes are available on the subject of scent as it relates to deer hunting.  The following is an attempt to clarify the picture as it relates to late season coyote hunting in Illinois.

Predators rely heavily on their sense of smell to lead them to food as well as to keep them out of harms way.

There are two basic types of scents: cover scents and attractant scents.  Cover scents conceal the natural odor of man and the odors his body can absorb.  Cover scents divided into mild and strong scents.  Examples of mild scents are the scent wafers that generally smell like acorn, pine or cedar.  Such scents are for use in areas where such scents occur naturally.

Strong scents come from the urine of other mammals, such as deer, fox, skunk or bobcat.  As the name implies, the odor from such scents is strong.  Never place it directly upon the hunter or his clothing.  To do so may cost you your happy home.

Apply strong scents to cotton, cloth or a pipe cleaner and place downwind of the hunter.  Dip the absorbent fabric into the scent and place downwind because coyotes tend to approach their prey from that direction.  They rely on their nose to tell them exactly where the prey is located and if some other animal is in the area.  The strong scent blends with and camouflages the scent of the hunter.

Hunters should also attempt to make themselves as human scent free as possible.  The best way to keep a coyote from becoming alarmed due to human scent is to eliminate the human scent before ever entering the field.  But, it requires dedication, commitment and extra time.

The first step is to wash all hunting clothing with a scent‑free laundry detergent.  One such product is Scent‑A‑Way by Hunter’s Specialities.  Dry the clean clothing without using any scented fabric softener.  Using those scented sheets in the drier add fragrance which defeats the purpose of using the scent‑free detergent.

The clothing must then be stored in a bag that will keep them from absorbing other odors.  Early attempts usually involved placing them in plastic garbage bags with such things as dirt, leaves and other assorted items that smelled like the hunting area.  Today, you can use the commercial bags and include with earth scent wafers.  It keeps the clothing odor free and still clean.

Just being scent free or just using an attractant alone is not enough.  Combine the two to produce a certain effect.  Coyotes are opportunistic feeders and will prey upon young deer.  Using a doe urine product can fool them into believing that there is an easy meal in the area.  The attractant scent of doe urine, combined with a fawn bleat can fool ole wily coyote even though the does are not dropping fawns at that particular time of the year.

The hunter himself should also take care to avoid absorbing odors.  Natural body odor comes from bacteria release by the body in perspiration.  It is a good idea to take a shower just before going into the field.  It helps to use an unscented soap such as Ivory or any of the other commercial products on the market.  Some of the odors we absorb from our environment are cigarette smoke, gasoline fumes, after shave, hair spray or oil, and cooked foods such as bacon or other animal products.

To avoid the food and other odors, there is just no other way to go than to avoid them.  Do not smoke prior to going into the field and once there definitely do not smoke while calling.

The combination of lack of human scent, addition of attractant scents or cover scents; coupled with an effective predator or fawn call, can fool coyotes.  They have fantastic senses you can be fool.

 

AFTER THE FOX   2 comments

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Cold crisp mornings are a regular during winter.  It is one of those crunchy, frosty mornings.  A hunter places his mouth call to his lips and gives out with a squeak that imitates a mouse in distress.  The fox moves cautiously out of the weeds and the archer releases his arrow.

Red fox exist in varying number throughout the Midwest.  However, hunting fox is not as easy as finding them.  Hunting these small canines with bow and arrow is even more challenging.

During mid‑December, foxes experience a hormonal change that causes them to seek out each other.  Vacancies in the established territories fill with other adults or by some of the young of the year.  Tracks will show two animals traveling together and often intertwining.

In January, the breeding season begins with the young born 54 days later.  After the young grow up, the family unit breaks up in September.  They remain alone until the following December.

Red fox thrive in farmland and in the brush, or swamp country.  Some gray fox populations still exist.  However, they become decimated in other areas by coyote predation.

The best hunting months are during the winter.  The animal has the best pelt during the winter months.  The most productive hunting method is calling.  Calling a fox into bow range is a chancy prospect at best.  However, the exhilaration of being able to put that fine pelt up on the wall makes it all worth the effort.

Of the two species of fox, the gray is most likely to respond to a call.  Fox are opportunity eaters and neither species is going to pass up an easy meal.

The more popular predator call that imitates a rabbit in distress also works with fox and coyote.  Nevertheless, the squeak is deadly on foxes.  The main difference is that the squeak is seldom audible at more than 300 yards.

Whatever the call, much practice is required before setting off into the field.  Neighbors and family may think the hunter is a little crazy.  After all, everyone knows that you do not have to be ready for the foolish factory to be a foxhunting archer, but it helps.

Although the fox is a small game animal, hunt him as a big game quarry.  A bow of hunting weight with either aluminum, carbon or wood arrows do the job.  Broadheads are essential.  A straight or helical three fletching is best.  The broadhead must be razor sharp in order to insure a quick, humane kill.  There is never any excuse for a dull broadhead.

The fletching on the arrows can be plastic vanes or feathers.  Four and one half to five inch fletching is preferred to provide stability needed.  That stability is essential for straight and true flight of the arrow.

As with most bowhunting, camo clothing is important.  One does not get many shots at foxes.  The clothing should match the terrain as much as possible.  Once snow is on the ground, the lighter camo comes into play.  Once the ground is fully covered, pure white is effective.  Most camo manufacturers now have winter patterns available.

If one wears eyeglasses, a head cover of some kind is good.  Reflection of sunlight off eyeglasses sends a fox into high gear and away for the hunter.  A white pillowcase with holes cut out for the eyes and nose works well.

Foxes will react to the human eye.  As the animal approaches, it is not a good idea to look directly at him.  It helps to keep ones head down and to look up slowly and sparingly.  Like all animals, fox depend upon the spotting of movement, for protection from predators.

Once the equipment and calls are in order, sneak into a wooded area near a ridge top and get started.  It is best to begin with some open country downwind of the calling position.

That way anything approaching is visible.  Complete calm is best.  Wind tends to hide the noise of the call.  Successful calling in a moderate wind is possible but success is less likely as the wind increases.

Constantly calling tends to bring in an animal more quickly, whereas an on‑off calling results in a more deliberate stalking by the quarry.  Constant calling tends to hide errors by the hunter.

If no response in 12 minutes, move to another position.  Usually such a position is no more than a quarter mile away.  Before moving look carefully around to be sure any movement will not scare off a fox that is approaching unseen.  Once a fox hears the call, he knows exactly the position of the caller.  It is important to remain motionless as long as possible, and until the shot.

Bowhunting fox is fun and can add to the income.  Fox pelts sold provides the money used to add to the bowhunting budget for more hunting tackle.  Some people are so proud of the bow kill of a fox and would not sell the pelt for any amount of money.

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