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When the Snow flies It is Predator Calling Time Gary Howey

When the snow flies, predator hunters know this is the ideal time to start calling predators.  It is a wonder that after my first predator calling trip that I ever did it again. One of those trips into the field, which will make you wonder what you were doing out there.

A friend of mine from Omaha who works as a manufacturer’s representative for a call company called one afternoon and asked if I would like to try howling for coyotes.

Back then, I was game for almost everything, so I told him why not. I figured we had a couple of hours of daylight left and with the new snow on the ground; we could easily spot the coyotes.

The sun had just set when he pulled into our driveway and I figured our hunting opportunity had disappeared along with the sun.
Well, I was mistaken as he planned on hunting after dark, with the two of us setting up back to back, howling at the coyotes, using the light of the full moon to spot them as they came in.

Pic-Coyote-IA Hunt (1)

Coyotes can appear out of no where and disappear just as fast. This coyote came in off to my left where I couldn’t see it.

It had not been all that long ago since I had returned to the real world from Viet Nam, I was not very keen on setting out in the dark, waiting for some outraged coyote to jump me.

Too, make a long story short, on one of our first set ups, where we were set up on a hillside, When my partner let out a howl, he brought in a “Pack” of coyotes, intent on kicking the heck out of the intruder howling at them. It was then; I remembered that my night vision really sucked!

Several coyotes approached from down below while the others charged in from the top of the ridge. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as these angry, snarling coyote’s intent on a fight closed the distance between us, I wondered, how I had ever gotten myself into this mess.

My partner, had set me up, just over the downhill side of the ridge in the dark where I could not see anything until they burst over the ridge, right in my face.

I had the twelve gauge loaded with buckshot and fired from the hip when they came up in front of me. I managed to take out one that came to rest right at my feet and another that did not run off too far after I smacked him in the face.

Mike, armed with a 243 took out one more on the two coming in from the cornfield below.

My shooting was purely self-defense and after I stopped shaking, I told Mike this was the first and last time I would call at night!

Do not get me wrong, it was a great experience, an experience and I would do again in the daylight, but not after the sun had set.

When I talk about calling predators, in the upper Midwest, I am not just talking about coyotes, because you are apt to call in fox, bobcats, badgers or even a raccoon.

There is also could be a slim chance you may call in a larger predator that has made its way into our area, the mountain lion. Just thought you might want to know this!

During the warmer months, these predators have had a very good life, rabbits, ground squirrels, mice and birds had just had their young and there was a lot to eat.

Because of this, they did not have to work all that hard to come up with a good meal.

Once it gets cold, they need a lot more to eat more in order to stay warm.

Since they have made a meal of much of what was easily available before the snow arrived, getting enough to eat now becomes a whole lot more work.

Because of this, the predators will be out, on the move, looking for food and with the snow on the ground, they are going to be easier to spot.

In the old days, predator calling was not all that very popular, but with professional callers like Randy Anderson from Butte, Nebraska giving seminars and producing calling videos, the sport of predator calling has grown big time.

This is part of the reason, calls have improved, as has our camo clothing, ATV’s and weapons we use to call and take predators.

In years past, there were only a few companies’ manufacturing predator calls. Today almost every company making duck call now puts out a whole array of predator calls.

When we call, we use both mouth and electronic call at times, if the standard dying rabbit call has been used and abused, the critters will become leery of the call.

We use a combination of calls with the ICOtec electronic calls our go to electronic caller. It has twenty-four calls including coyote fox, bobcat, raccoon crow; snow geese, fawn distress as well as others and allows you to program up to two hundred different calls including your best mouth call sequences. The remote has up to 300 yard range, allowing you to station the unit away from the shooter, where the predators keen eyes will be focused away from the shooter.

If these old standbys, the dying cottontail or jackrabbit do not produce as well as they should, hunters now are able to use calls to howls, yelp and bark predators in.

At times, we will even throw a combination of calls at them that will include a rabbit distress, mixed with howls and yelps.

By doing this, you can get the coyotes to believe a group of coyotes are fighting over a rabbit meal.

We have found that howling is a call that can be used year round, but there are certain times of the year that a howl or yelp really shines!

This is especially true during the late winter/early spring, when the coyotes are dispersing or marking their territory and breeding.

When coyotes are setting up a new territory, they bark or howl to communicate with each other and if they do not hear another coyote howl back they think that there are no others in that area.

If another coyote does howl back, the intruder has several choices, one is to tuck his tail between his legs and head for another less populated area or two, stand his ground and take on the coyote or coyotes that will come to challenge him.

The more aggressive the howl, the more likely that the coyotes in the area will come charging in looking to kick the holy daylights out of the intruder.

When I first set up, the first call I like to use is a low volume howl. A coyote may be resting just over the hill or in a blowout lying in the shade and when hearing the howl; will pop over the hill to check out the noise.

Another piece of our predator calling gear is a decoy, one that moves, pauses and then moves again. When we set out our caller, we post our decoy close by. There have been times that the coyote would charge our decoy, so you need to have your decoy out in front of you, in the open and be ready just in case a critter decides to rush it as once they hit the decoy, realizing something is not right, you will have a split second to take the shot.

When I started calling predators, I used my old army camouflage clothing, which has now been replaced with numerous patterns allowing my partner, cameraman and I to blend in with everything from sagebrush to snow. The new waterproof and lightweight insulation used on and in hunters clothing gives us the opportunity to hunt in the most sever weather conditions.

With our new Gator four-wheel Aside by side, we are now able to get back into areas that not too many years ago were inaccessible, allowing us to get away from traffic and others.

You do not want to overlook any spot when calling coyotes as any wooded area, waterways, terraces, fence lines, creek bottom or CRP field can hold coyotes.

In order to be able to spot an incoming predator, I like to work off a hilltop, ridge or some higher position, allowing me to see out for a long distance.

This can be a ridge top, haystack or on top of a stack of hay bales.

I would not recommend setting up on top of hay bales or a haystack as coyotes are notorious for lying on bales and stacks soaking up the warmth of the sun and you surely do not want someone who is driving by to take a pot shot at you thinking that you are a coyote.

Most farmers and ranchers will give you permission to call coyotes because coyotes can really be a problem, especially around calving time.

In most states, there is no season on predators so they can be hunted throughout the year, allowing the hunter the opportunity to help control the predator population and keep his shooting eye sharp.

I like most predator callers feel that anyone can learn to call coyotes or other predators.

What you need to do is to learn as much as you can about the critter you are after, then get yourself some calls and spend some time in the outdoors practicing with your calls.

Calling predators is an excellent way to take care of the excess predators that raise havoc with our upland birds and deer population.
You will also be able to recoup some of your expenses by selling the furs. It will not be as much as it has been, but every little bit helps now days!

Predator calling can be exciting sport, one that can be enjoyed year around!