by John Winger
I use highly developed techniques that work. These techniques were not there from the beginning, however, and there was a lot of observation and refining in their development. Some credit is given to sources of information from which I have gleaned tips and tricks from over the years. Mostly, however, I have found techniques that work and have tried to continually improve upon them.
My techniques are a combination of calls, gear, locations, times of day, times of year and weather conditions. The first rule, I have found, is that there are no hard and fast rules. Experiment ... try new sounds, new locations ... refine, improve, succeed and refine some more. Let's talk about some of these things and then I will give a sample calling routine.
Since weapons and calls are talked about in several past articles here on Beagles Unlimited, we will start by briefly discussing some other gear. Camouflage garments are a must ... body garments, gloves, face mask. I am talking about having very sharp eyed critters at very close ranges. Camo, camo, camo ... The rest is personal choice. Camera? Knife? Rope or cord? Decoy? Up to you.
Where I call is wherever I have permission to hunt. Public lands provide some very good predator calling because 1.) most people don't predator hunt, and 2.) public land is often overlooked or dismissed as being over hunted. The sites I choose to call are, for the most part, based on cover availability. I call in the timber or brush and avoid wide open spaces. The cover increases predator response many-fold in our experience. Open timber is good for most any predator that occurs here in Oklahoma. Thick low cover such as grown up cutovers is very good for foxes as well as cats and even the Wiley coyote can be suckered into this thick stuff. Also, there is usually some sort of leaves or such on the ground which helps me hear them running in.
I prefer afternoons. Any time of day is potentially good, but afternoons into the latest evening are the very best in our opinion. Most of the stuff you read will claim early morning to be best, but I say evenings are better. Best bet is to go out early and late and determine for yourself which produces best for you.
Any time of year can be effective for predator calling. In most states, allowable coyote harvest is very liberal. Coyotes are fair game year-round in Oklahoma. However, the I have found December and January to be the most productive. Success has seemed to taper off in February for some reason (maybe going in to the coyote breeding time?). Actually, it can be good in October and November to be sure, but deer hunting interferes during those months (our own deer hunting, of course ... gotta get something edible in the freezer before chasing nasty ole coyotes).
The nice days following nasty winter fronts are spectacular for success. Animals just can't seem to resist calls on that first one or two warm days after a hard cold snap. But, don't let that dictate everything. Just the other day, me and a friend took 5 coyotes and a bobcat in one afternoon on a north wind front day. Basically, you won't kill many from the La-Z-Boy.
A sample calling routine would go something like this:
Find a site in the cover ... maybe a wooded draw or a clear-cut. I like to sit looking downhill like we would when turkey hunting.
Next, clear leaves away from the base of a tree, big rock, or bush (for background cover) and stand or sit against it. I prefer to stand when possible to facilitate being able to see better and to have more mobility for shooting. John Winger prefers to keep it open in front of him and rely on the background and staying relatively still for concealment so he can better watch for critters when actively calling.
Make a loud, excited call series of a minute or so. Check our watch. Wait a minute or so and watch and listen. Many a coyote has shown up during this first pause. Make another loud series, but not quite as long. Pause again, perhaps a bit longer this time. Continue with a few more series with less volume, excitement and duration and longer pauses in between. Maybe squeak a few times now and watch and listen.
After ten to fifteen minutes, move on to the next site. I usually only give ten minutes to a call site. You might want to give more. My experience, however, has been that most animals show up in 6 minutes or less. My philosophy is, then, to make more calls at more sites, thus increasing our chances of success for the outing.