- October 4, 2016
- Doug Howlett
Hunter’s Specialties pro-staffer Pat Muffler is a predator hunting maniac. He’s been hunting the critters since the age of 6 in his native Upper Peninsula of Michigan and since his youth, across much of the United States. He offers this advice to get started.
“Whether you’re going deer hunting in the fall or turkey hunting in the spring or just working to plant food plots or clear trails during the off-season, always watch for sign,” Muffler says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s June or January, coyotes will always use the same trails.” Identifying scat and tracks along well-used corridors gives a hunter a starting point for his calling sets.
While night hunting predators with lights is popular, particularly for foxes and bobcats, which seem to come in better at this time, Muffler still prefers to hunt them in the day, like deer, working them mostly in the early morning and late afternoon. But don’t discount other times of the day.
“Anytime around the clock is good for predators, but I like nine to eleven in the morning the best,” he says. Why? “Number one, they are predators. They go all night and when daybreak comes, they’ll bed down and rest. However, as soon as the sun rises good, they get back on their feet.
“They’re also opportunists. A coyote will hear that call a mile and a half away, but for him, that’s too far, he wants something close by and that he thinks is safe.” Luck out and move the right direction and you might pull him your way. For that reason, never hunt sets more than 15 to 20 minutes before getting up and moving to another calling location. Predators will typically move in in that time if they are coming at all.
Muffler recommends going about a half mile and calling again given that coyotes closer than that will have likely been able to hear your calling. He also urges hunters to pay close attention to the wind and always set up where you can see a good distance downwind.
“They will always circle from downwind,” says Muffler. Additionally, you’ll want to take the same precautions to become scent-free here that you did during deer season. In fact, you might even want to take more, washing all of your clothes and items in scent-free wash and spraying yourself down with a scent eliminating solution.
“Coyotes can smell better than a deer,” says Muffler. As for the best time of year to hunt them, Muffler loves late summer and early fall.
“If you really want to stack ‘em up, late September and early October is great,” says Muffler. “There are lots of new pups that have been kicked out of their dens and they’ll come to anything that cries.” Though cold, harsh winter weather can combine to make food hard to find, while driving the animals’ caloric needs, meaning coyotes and other predators will be on the move searching for food and interested in anything that sounds like it.