How Predator Hunting Works

Predator Hunts: Getting Started

Trying to find nearby coyotes? Give a howl and listen for the animal's response call.
Trying to find nearby coyotes? Give a howl and listen for the animal's response call.
Jeremy Woodhouse/Photodisc/Getty Images

Coyotes, foxes, bobcats and other big cats -- clearly, predator hunters are dealing not just with sly, smart creatures, but also very dangerous ones. For that­ reason, some basic hunting knowledge is needed before heading out to take down coyotes. Beyond knowing how to shoot a gun and construct a hunting setup, though, predator hunters must really get to know their prey. This involves a fair amount of homework:

  • What does this animal eat?
  • Does diet change depending on the season?
  • What do the tracks look like?
  • What does the scat look like?
  • What are this animal's distress calls? Mating calls?
  • Where does this animal live?
  • How does this animal hunt? Is scent, sight or sound more important in the way this animal tracks prey?

The answers to these questions differ from place to place, but knowing what this predator is up to determines the equipment you'll need, as well as the overall strategy for hunting.

In most cases, predator hunters can use the same gun that they use for other types of hunting, so generally, no special equipment is required there. If you're looking for an excuse to buy a new gun, however, a gun like a .22-250 will likely prove an asset when it comes to killing predators [source: Herald]. A scope aids with long-distance shots, and many hunters will use some sort of rest for their gun, so that no movement is perceptible to the predator. As with other types of hunting, camouflage is essential. The essential items, though, are the devices used to create hunting calls.

In the wild, predators respond to the distress calls of their prey. An injured animal indicates an easy dinner. Make the right kind of call, and you can attract your desired predator. There are several different calls available, including electronic and reed models. Electronic devices are pretty self-explanatory -- you press a button and voila, the sound of a dying rabbit.

If you really want to give the call some nuance, a reed call will provide the ability to create numerous sounds with your mouth. Closed-reed models are simple to use; the tone of the call changes as the user varies the air pressure. With open-reed models, you can create a wide range of sounds, though it may take some practice to get things just right. This variability, however, could help you in the long run; because these animals are so smart, they may start to discern which calls sound artificial and potentially dangerous, as opposed to those that sound like five-star fine dining. Imitating the mating call of the predator you're hunting is also an option.

But even if you're the Miles Davis of predator calling, you've got to be set up effectively for the big finish. That's why all that homework is so important -- before even starting to call, you've got to be in an area where you know predators roam and in a position that gives you a clear shot without revealing your position, either by scent or sight. This obviously provides some room for interpretation, so some hunters prefer to set up a stand and wait for hours, periodically calling, while other hunters stay on the move. While there's no set time that a hunter should wait between calls, it's worth noting that overcalling is a common hunting mistake [source: Herald]. If everything goes according to plan, the predator will approach, and the rest is up to you.

Wait -- before you pull the trigger, are there any laws you might be breaking? Find out on the next page.