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On the Prowl

Trailing a wary predator is one of the toughest scenarios in hunting. Predators like bobcat, fox and coyote can make hunting a great challenge. It is very difficult to be the top predator when hunting a skilled and experienced carnivore that eats other animals to survive. This very description explains why they are so difficult to hunt. It would be unusual to sneak up on a predator whose sight and hearing are so acute they can pinpoint the animals they hunt and eat. Survival skills like those previously mentioned are what keeps the coyote at the top of the food chain.

Walking known game trails just after a rain will show a hunter if predators are using the trail. I find particular success on a trail that parallels the river near where I hunt. The smaller opossum and raccoon tracks that stop at the waters edge to drink are shadowed by coyote tracks. There are also lots of turkey and abundant squirrel at this location, so the opportunity to feed well provides all the reason for a coyote to hunt there.

When a bobcat has recently taken a turkey, you will find the telltale signs of feathers and carcass strewn about. Look for additional signs to verify what predator has left his mark on the area. Tracks, scat and feeding patterns can tell you which predator did the hunting there. Brush up online with print recognition; check out a predator book from the library; ask a seasoned hunter to show you the difference between coyote, fox, bobcat and mountain lion sign. Once a hunter can distinguish various types of predator sign and can determine the fresh sign from the old, the hunt can begin.

It may take a while to find coyote sign if coyote are not frequenting the area. They can range many miles a day in search of food. Coyote are most often seen from great distance as they are quite wary of people and shy of any human scent. I accuse them of having a sixth sense. I have seen them turn and run when there is no wind to give up my presence. On one occasion, a coyote walked in from behind my shooting set up and stood within six foot off to my right side without seeing me. I could not turn my firearm to take the shot without alerting him to my position and I chose to wait for him to walk forward to pass in front of my shooting lane. He just stopped and then spooked, turning to look behind him before running back the same direction.

Calling is much easier with an electronic system. The sounds are varied and quite distressed for a continuous burst of sound within a reasonable amount of time. I found that in using my reed call and exerting that kind of force and sound is exhausting. I was left wondering as a green predator hunter if my calling series was too long, too short or even the right pitch. An eletronic device eliminates any of those questions.

Visual aids can blow in the wind to attract the attention of a coyote. The idea here is to distract him from your position and pull him in close enough for a shot.

Cover is the best friend of a predator hunter. Camo and woodland underbrush or a rock boulder with a crevice are my favorite places to find cover while hunting predators. I mentioned a coyote encounter earlier. The coyote that came in from behind me could only see the boulder I sat against, not my camouflaged form. I was sitting in the niche of a large boulder and apparently I looked like a part of the rock since the coyote never even looked at me.

I picked up a tip for hunting out in the open while watching Predator Nation last week. Fred Eichler used a telephone pole to break up his form while hunting predators out in open areas. Sitting against the pole he took a nice coyote. One other open range tip I can offer is using the topography of the land. If there is a dry ditch or low spot, use it to your advantage by laying down for the hunt until a predator comes in close enough for the shot.

Game cameras are a stealthy way to seek out coyotes when scouting on foot lacks result. Game camera photos can do more than capture a local coyote on film. They can also give the hunter a time and date of the coyotes visit to that location, alerting you to their patterns.  Most coyotes are feeding more at this time of year because they'll find leaner meal selections in the tenacious trials of winter.

Check with Missouri(or your local) Department of Conservation for 2010 predator season dates.


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Regional Directors

Regional Directors organize
and participate in
shoots and shows

Julia Heinz
Alaska and the Yukon

Kathy Russell

Tammy Hartline
North Alabama, Mississippi p
and North Georgia

Synthia Wilson

Kim Hose
Rachel Baker
Beth Milligan
Jo Rice
Angelina Coopersmith
Jenny Paul
 Mara Osborne
North Carolina


Tracy Rowe




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