THE EXCITING SPORT OF PREDATOR CALLING
By Joe Arterburn
Many predator hunters go afield without thinking about the scenario in which they will be a central figure. The scenario is this: the camouflaged hunter conceals herself or himself in a remote location, in this case let’s say in rural Texas, where both coyotes and bobcats are common. Sitting virtually motionless, the hunter produces a sound with mouth call or electronic call, usually imitating a distressed rabbit or other small animal in hopes of drawing in a coyote or bobcat looking for an easy meal.
Sometimes coyote hunters use howls and barks to entice a coyote to approach, but in any case, the idea is to draw the predator close enough to shoot it with a rifle or shotgun.
While attacks on predator hunters are uncommon, you may have heard stories in which a predator charged the caller or a bobcat approached so stealthily the caller didn’t notice until the bobcat pounced. (Turkey hunters who likewise conceal themselves and produce calls sounding like turkeys have been surprised by coyotes and bobcats. But that’s another story.)
Most coyotes and bobcats are so wary of humans, just seeing or smelling a person sends them into full flight. Nevertheless, here are precautions to consider when predator calling.
Set your remote-controlled electronic call 30 or 40 yards from where you sit. The predator will focus on the source of the sound. A decoy near the caller will also keep the predator’s attention away from you.
Sit back-to-back with a companion, or at least sit so between you both you can view 360 degrees. If more than two, you can each cover certain angles to assure a full view.
Sit with your back to a tree, bush, rock outcropping, anything that provides cover from behind. It will also help conceal you.
Be alert. Don’t let slow periods lull you to inattention. Slowly, slowly, slowly turn your head to scan for incoming animals. Listen. And watch other wildlife, they can tip you off to approaching predators.
And, of course, all hunter safety rules apply. If hunting with a companion or companions, be sure everyone knows where everyone else is located before starting to call. It is wise to sit close enough to see each other.
Discuss who will shoot if a predator approaches. Divide terrain equally, like pieces of a pie, so each hunter shoots only in the appointed direction. It can be exciting when a predator approaches, but no matter the excitement or how fast the action, under no circumstances should anyone risk a rushed shot in the direction of someone else. Never.
Be sure you are the only hunters in the area. Confirm that with the landowner or, if on public land, be sure no one else is in the area. If they are, make sure they know you are there too. If another hunter approaches, make sure you are seen—and not by waving a camouflaged arm. It is better to carry an orange hat which you can wave or don to get their attention. Plus, you can wear the orange hat as an added measure of safety as you carry your hard-earned coyote or bobcat.