River Currents

by Free Speech on January 8, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI

Extend Your Winter Time Outdoors by Predator Hunting

Wade Feiner of Sauk City with a coyote.

Predator hunting has been around for years, but the last decade has seen a boom in this hunting which fills some of the gaps between other seasons and gives the hunter and outdoorsman another chance to be in the outdoors. The main predators in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest are; wolves, bears, bobcats, foxes, and now the most common predator the coyote. There is no open season for wolves in Wisconsin, bears are regulated with seasons and harvest quotas, bobcats are also highly regulated, foxes are more common and have set seasons, and the main predator that most hunters hunt, the coyote has a season open all year.

The coyote population has continued to grow with a population of 18,000 to 20,000 animals in Wisconsin. Development and growth into previously rural areas has brought people and coyotes into direct contact with each other and coyotes much like the whitetail deer have learned to adapt and live with man. All one has to do is read the local papers and see the numerous sightings and confrontations people and pets have with coyotes. The westside of Madison has seen coyotes killing smaller pet dogs and “stalking” people while showing no fear of humans. Though, I know of no verified reports of these predators attacking a human. But, small pets, like cats and dogs, should not be left or let outside alone. A few years back, I saw a coyote trotting along the Beltline Highway by Odana Golf Course. There are reports from all over the state about the numerous sightings and abundance of coyotes in every county and most towns and villages in this state.

As I said earlier, predator hunting is a rapidly growing sport for hunters and doesn’t require too much equipment and gear besides a good rifle, a quality scope, a manual or electronic call, and a decoy. Many of the same guns that you use for deer hunting are fine for predator hunting. The most common caliber rifles for predators are; the .223, 22-250, .243, and the .270 in a 50 grain bullet. I suggest a quality long gun made by Browning, Bennelli, Remington, Winchester, or Ruger. The Ruger M-77 is an excellent rifle at a reasonable price. Since most of your shots are going to long ones, you’ll also need a quality scope and the one that you used for deer hunting will most likely fill the bill. If it doesn’t, a Wisconsin company in Middleton, Vortex Optics, makes outstanding optics and has won numerous awards for their products and their quality the last few years in the hunting community. Besides rifle scopes, Vortex makes top-notch binoculars and spotting scopes at most price points with outstanding features. Personally, I’d check out the Viper and Diamondback series of scopes from Vortex if looking for optics that will perform in the worst conditions.

One of the most important parts of predator hunting is to have access to a large amount of land. Getting permission and access to private land is of utmost importance when hunting coyotes and foxes. Having a 40 or 80 acre piece of land is not enough for the wide-ranging coyote and fox. Depending on the time and season of the year, a coyote can roam over a large and wide area while in search of food. This is why a hunter needs to have a good relationship with bordering landowners. People, who would never give permission to hunt deer or turkeys on their land, will often give permission to hunt predators. The more land that you have to hunt will greatly improve your hunting chances and your hunting enjoyment. Try to talk to as many local landowners as possible to gain access to as much land as you can. It’s also a good idea to get your permission in writing in case the landowner doesn’t live in the immediate area where you are hunting.

The next step is to do some scouting. By scouting, I don’t mean just going out into the woods and sitting down. When scouting, go out and cover some ground looking for areas of travel and then scour that immediate area for droppings, dens, bedding areas, and tracks. Ask local farmers and landowners where they are seeing coyotes or foxes and at what time of the day. The more information that you can gather from someone who is outside regularly is very important because they see many things that you don’t.

Greg Stubbe and friend, coyote hunting in South Dakota

While scouting, look for locations that may be good spots for hunting stands or blinds. The more stands that you have on your hunting land, then the greater is your opportunity for success. Try to put your stands at different locations depending on which direction the wind is blowing from when hunting. This gives you a better chance of not getting “winded” by the predator. Make and put your stands in areas where there is good cover that allows you to blend in with the natural surroundings. Be sure to have a camo pattern that matches your immediate surroundings and cover. If its winter and there’s snow on the ground be sure to wear a snow camo pattern. Always approach your stand quietly and stealthily. Don’t drive an ATV or truck close to your stand and expect to have any success. Park your vehicle a couple of hundred yards away and then get to your stand or blind as quietly and quickly as possible. Stay low to prevent silhouetting yourself in the woods.

Next, predator hunters use either a manual or electronic calls with success. Some hunters will use both kinds of calls depending on the situation. If you can afford to spend the money, the electronic calls are excellent because they allow you to get the remote controlled devices away from you (25 to 50 yards). Getting the attention of the coyote or fox away from you is very important. Always have a few locations that you know well. Having your call set up away from you takes the animals’ immediate attention to the call and decoy. Now what you want to do is to try and simulate “real life.” If you’re using a manual call start softly and quietly and if using an electronic caller start on low volume. Louder is not always better. A good call to begin with is the cottontail distress call. Slowly increase the volume of the call as time progresses. When using an electronic caller, run the call for 10 to 15 seconds and then turn the sound off and wait 45 seconds. Do this calling in 20 to 30 minute cycles and if you don’t get any action, then move to another location. If there are coyotes or grey foxes in the area, they will come fast and hard to your decoy. If hunting red fox or bobcat wait longer for them to respond, maybe 30 to 45 minutes.

Decoys are very important because they serve the purpose of getting the animals attention away from you. If a coyote has the audio sound and the decoy to see, then you are not going to be the animal’s prime focus of attention. The key is getting the coyote’s focus on the decoy movement and sound at your set-up and not you. The motion from the decoy also helps distract the predator.

Try to use your terrain and surroundings for your set-up. Use your calls for 15 to 20 seconds over a 20 minute period. If you don’t have any action, try moving to another location anywhere from ½ to ½ mile from where you started and try again. There are many calls to use beside the rabbit in distress call like; fawn deer sounds, turkey sounds, and about anything else that means food to the predator.

Coyotes and other pressured predators are difficult to hunt and quickly learn that man is an enemy. Trying “something” different is sometimes the ticket on pressured predators because they are smart and quickly get accustomed to man.

Most states including Wisconsin have year-round seasons on coyotes, except in northern Wisconsin during the deer season. There is a chance that coyotes could be mistaken for wolves, so be sure to check local rules and regulations before hunting. The time and season of the year is important to the predator hunter. During the breeding season which runs from mid-January till March, the coyote is much more territorial and tends to travel more. A long, challenging call works good this time of the year as does the distress call. During spring and into summer, canine pup calls work because the pups haven’t seen or heard much that is happening in the world around them. Feed and distress calls work very well this time of the year.

Predator hunting is popular because it is something that can be done year-round by the hunter. It’s a fun sport that involves hard work, but gives the hunter a real “rush” when a coyote responds to your calls and comes charging to your decoy and set-up. Deer hunting is easy next to predator hunting. If you’re looking for a new challenge and some winter fun, give predator hunting a try!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Previous post:

Next post: