A great many people read an article about predator hunting, go to their local sporting goods store, buy a call and hit the fields. They sit down full of hope and begin to blow on that call. They blow for five minutes and then ten and then fifteen. After twenty or twenty five minutes they firmly believe the author of that article is full of it and they never try again.
Predator calling articles often make this game look easy. They print pictures of hungry coyotes standing mere feet away from the caller. They print pictures of stacks of foxes after a weekend hunt. Well, those things do happen. But, they are the exception rather than the rule.
If you are one who believes that every time out and at every stand you will be calling in predator after predator, you had best put that new call of yours on a garage sale and rechamber your rifle so you can use it for deer.
Predator calling is a low-odds game. There, I've said it.
I think every new predator hunter needs to understand that. Too many go out with "pie in the sky" hopes of large takes of predatory animals.
When I was first starting and didn't understand how to set up stands or how to make the proper sounds, I went stand after stand without seeing an animal. I was convinced that I was making the wrong sounds. I bought every new mouth blown predator call I could find. I was sure that if I could just make the right sound the animals would be running me over.
I even went so far as to check out a reel to reel tape recorder from the public library. I carried it out to the woods along with a tape of a cotton tail in distress that a friend of mine had dug up somewhere. Armed with this realistic sound, I was certain that I was going to call in some foxes.
I snuggled up against a tree, sat down cross-legged with my 12 gauge across my lap and turned on the tape. It was within the first three minutes when a red fox bolted out of the cover directly behind me and made for what he thought was the rabbit. He launched himself at that tape player. His path to the player took him directly OVER my lap. He realized his mistake about the same time he was scaring the dickens out of me. He landed well clear of the tape player and made tracks for the next zip code. I hastened three shots after him and always managed to hit where he was one step ago.
But, with this new found success, I was convinced that all I needed was this tape and more time in the field. I hunted hard for the next week with that tape player and never saw another fox. Back to the drawing board.
Not so suddenly finding myself completely confused and disgruntled, I set about finding out what this game was all about. I tracked down a maker of predator calls and set about trying to pick his brain. He told me about wind direction and how to pay attention. He told me about proper scouting and how to hunt the cover the critters were in. He told me all kinds of stuff to make me more successful. And then he told me it was a low odds game.
Certain that he was a Guru who called in animals on each stand, I asked him about how many animals I could expect to call in. He said that as a beginner, I could expect to call in one animal every twenty stands I made. He said that he regularly called in one animal every seven stands he makes.
I had a long ways to go to get to one out of twenty let alone one out of seven. Well, that was lots of years and lots of foxes and coyotes ago. I'm pleased to report that the last two or three years my calling success has been very close to one predator response out of every two stands made. Fifty percent is pretty darned good and it's often enough to keep my hopes up while out hunting.
New beginners in this sport today are light years ahead of where I was when I was starting out. Now we have a lot of media devoted to predator calling. There are magazines devoted to the sport. Video cameras have lead to a multitude of good video tapes on the market to learn by and of course, the world wide web is a virtual storehouse of information. There are chat groups and bulletin boards where a novice can pick the brains of some of the most skilled callers in the world.
A person who takes advantage of all the information out there can cut the learning time in this sport down to nothing. With a fraction of time it took me to learn how to call, a new hunter can be out culling the excess population of foxes, coyotes and bobcats with little effort.
So, remember it's a low odds game. But, by taking advantage of what is available to you, you can up those odds before you get frustrated and give up before you even get a good start.
Predator calling is a low-odds game, but with time and experience the odds go up. Here is Randy with ten red fox after one exceptional day of predator calling.